Pine Grove Lakes Community Forum


 


Robert H. Gittins

Senator Robert H. Gittins was the founder and first president of Ramapo Heights Corporation, the original developer of Pine Grove Lakes, then known as Ramapo Mountain Lakes.  Mr. Gittins was also a lawyer, a U.S. Congressman and a New York State Park Commissioner (see Congressional Biography, below).

In 1935, Mr. Gittins formed the "Ramapo Heights Club," a private sportsman's preserve, out of the mountain wilderness.  The Club existed until 1939.  Click here for a map of the original Ramapo Heights Club.   
 
In 1939, Mr. Gittins abandoned the Club and formed the homeowners' association with the execution of our first Declaration of Covenants.  According to Mayor Carl Wright, Gittins' stated vision was to create a "poor man's Tuxedo Park."  The groundbreaking occurred on February 23, 1939. Click here to see it, along with a picture of Mr. Gittins.
 
Along with his family, Mr. Gittins built what we now know as the Pine Grove Lakes community.  According to Clarence Conklin, a Sloatsburg resident since 1908 and a well-known local historian, Mr. Gittins and his brother excavated and constructed the two lakes that we now know as Pine Grove Lake and Mirror Lake.  Unfortunately, Mr. Gittins brother died in an accident during the construction of one of the lakes.  Mr. Gittins resided at 5 Allen Place (on The Green) until he passed away on December 25, 1957.
 
Congressional Biography
 
GITTINS, Robert Henry, a Representative from New York; born in Oswego, Oswego County, N.Y., December 14, 1869; attended St. Paul's Academy,  Oswego, N.Y.; engaged in the lumber, grain, and coal business; was graduated from the law department of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1900; was admitted to the bar in the States of Michigan and New York in 1900 and commenced the practice of law at Niagara Falls, N.Y., in 1901; member of the State senate 1911-1913; delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1912; elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-third Congress (March 4, 1913-March 3, 1915); unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1914 to the Sixty-fourth Congress; owner and publisher of the Niagara Falls Journal 1914-1918; postmaster of Niagara Falls, N.Y., from October 16, 1916, to January 21, 1920; resumed the practice of his profession; appointed commissioner of the State reservation at Niagara Falls in 1918 and served until 1940; moved to New York City in 1923 and continued the practice of law until 1956; resided in Sloatsburg, Rockland County, N.Y., until his death December 25, 1957.  Source:  Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress.
 
Thanks to Mayor Carl Wright, Clarence Conklin & Daphne Downes for contributing this information. If anyone else has information to share about the history of PGL, please .

 



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