AN ADIRONDACK LEGACY
Bearhurst was built as early as 1894, with two major expansions in the early 1900s. The earliest photos show the main home in 1905 and capture the charm and character of the early days when the home was accessed by steam boat. Originally, the property was owned by the Meyrowitz family, a New York City maker of optical glassware. The property served as a rustic hunting retreat for the better part of the twentieth century. Much of the original glass, the original moose taxidermy, and large andirons which adorn the central fireplace remain in the home. Abandoned during the great depression, the home and outbuildings fell into disrepair. Overrun with animals and with many of the original treasures of the home ransacked, Bearhurst laid in rest during the 1940s. In 1952, teenager Helen Funfschilling, along with her sisters who had long enjoyed summer vacations on Lake Pleasant, convinced their parents to purchase the property. William (Willy) and Freida Funfschilling, Swiss immigrants and owners of a successful New York City Swiss pastry shop, finalized the purchase of the home in 1953, making the $500 deposit with the money Frida had been saving to buy herself a new fur coat. The property was purchased for a total of $17,500. Prior to purchase by the Funfschilling family, developer Gallop subdivided the original Bearhurst estate which historically reached east over what is now South Shore Road and partially up Speculator Mountain, and west towards Cubs Cove. The Cubs Cove home was constructed for the daughter of Mr. Meyrowitz. There is much debate as to the whereabouts of the mating boat house that stored the steam powered boat when not at Bearhurst with remnants and pictures supporting various locations near the Village. The causeway crossing Cherry Creek was finishing in 1953 allowing the first road access.
The Funfschilling family spent many years commuting to Speculator each weekend to work tirelessly restoring the property to its former glory. Prior to construction of the New York State Thruway the family would leave New York City on Saturday evening after closing their shop, drive eight hours, work all day on Sunday, and drive home Sunday night. The main home was decorated in the victorian period style. Many antiques that occupy the bedrooms including beds and dressers were purchased from the Grand Hotel in Saratoga by a former owner. Upon completing the restoration of the main home, the family began operating a small boarding house business while they undertook the subsequent renovations of the various outbuildings on the property. The former kitchen building, which had been previously moved from behind the main home to the front of the property, became Cherry East and West, the stable and icehouse were transformed into a year-round cozy cabin aptly named the Icehouse, the pumphouse and likely the coking gas oven on the water's edge became a charming two bedroom cottage called Cubhurst, and the Boathouse, which had previously served as the servants quarters, still maintains much of its original functionality. By converting these buildings into summer cottages, the Funfschilling family was able to offer seasonal rental properties to families looking to enjoy a summertime country escape. Many families became regular tenants and close friends of the family, helping with the various projects to improve and maintain the property over the years. In 1986, Helen and her husband Richard Armstrong (who met in a staged sailing incident in front of Bearhurst on Lake Pleasant in 1955) took over responsibility for the home and business, continuing to provide a retreat for both family and renters with the continuation of both seasonal and weekly housekeeping cottage rentals. In 2012, the Bearhurst property transferred to the next generation within the family. The current owners, Rich and Diana Armstrong, take pride in maintaining this piece of Adirondack history while enjoying new memories with friends and family each summer and throughout the year.