Henry Graves, Who Gave Girl Scouts A Million-Dollar Gift
Member of the Graves family gave the camp to South Orange and Maplewood Girl Scouts
The large extended Graves family included philanthropist Henry Graves of Orange. Graves is memorable to South Orange and Maplewood residents because, along with other significant bequests, he deeded Eagle Island to the Girl Scouts of the Oranges and Maplewood.
Henry Graves was the brother of Edward Hale Graves of Scotland Road, South Orange, and the uncle of Jean Graves. His father, also named Henry, was an avid art collector. When he died in 1909, the collection of Henry Graves Sr. totaled some 50 paintings and more than 650 porcelains. In his Orange home, he displayed three Corot landscapes including “The Hay Cart,” “Twilight” and “An Old Mill at Ville d’Avray.” Rousseau’s “Autumn Evening in Sologne” and “Summer Morning on the Oise” were among the highlights of his collection, along with a work by Delacroix. The collection was sold at auction.
His son, Henry, was described by The New York Times as “being identified with large cement interests.” In whatever form that took, Graves was successful: he owned Eagle Island on Saranac Lake, valued at $1,000,000. He used it as his summer residence for 30 years. Previously it was the summer home of New York Governor Levi Morton.
Graves gave it to the local Girl Scouts simply because he was asked.
The local Girl Scout troops were looking for a site to replace their camp at White Lake, NJ. Mrs. Archer Bachman of South Orange, chairwoman of the camp committee, heard that Eagle Island might be for sale.
Bachman approached Graves. She reported that the camp was available for “the astoundingly low figure of $20,000,” according to The New York Times. Both parties agreed, and plans were made to raise funds “and then came the surprise gift,” according to The New York Times. Graves made the gift in memory of his late sons, Henry 3rd, and George. At the time of the gift, Graves had two other children living.
Graves’s gift included the island, its 14 cabins and large Adirondack-style lodge, tennis courts, and a number of boats valued at $5000. The island was able to accommodate more than 100 Girl Scouts.
Graves gave that rare thing, a gift that lives on, that keeps on giving, well beyond the years of the giver.