Le Robinson Restaurant and Boarding House
Update: Click through for some aerial photos of the resort in the 50’s.
In the 1940’s, 1950’s and to some extent into the 1960’s, the Catskill mountains of New York were home to a conglomeration of hotels, bungalows and cabin communities that became known as the Borscht Belt. After my father’s first marriage dissolved, his ex-wife married a Frenchman, Andre Lavielle, and opened a resort in Patterson, NY modeled on the same idea and called it Le Robinson. Miriam was the descendant of Russian Jewish immigrants; it’s unclear whether the clientele came from the same Ashkenazi Jewish population of New York that made the Catskill resorts so popular, or whether they catered to an Italian clientele (the resort featured bocce courts), but the general idea was the same – a place to get away from the City and relax.
I still have memories of visiting the place; the library, table-top shuffleboard games (metal pucks lubricated by some sort of sand), the windmill, the boating pond, and sitting on the screened veranda while an early bug-zapper incinerated unwelcome guests.
Sadly, a fire destroyed the main house, and the resort ultimately became a park. I found a description at “Businesses in the Village of Patterson:”
Le Robinson farm was located on Maple Avenue [in Patterson, NY], and was the former home of Jacob Stahl, best known as the owner of the Putnam Cigar Factory and other buildings in the village of Patterson. The house was a four story frame structure that was built in the fall of 1896, and was a showplace in Patterson when it was built. The property had two or three owners after the death of the Stahl family, and in the late 1950s was owned by Miriam M. Lavielle and Andre Lavielle. The Lavielle’s operated the house as a French restaurant and boarding house known as Le Robinson. The house had room for 50 guests, and there were cottages located on the adjoining property.
Mrs. Lavielle was instrumental in the formation of Boys and Girls Scout programs in Patterson in the 1950s, and was a member of the HAGS social club that sponsored many activities that benefited community programs in Patterson. She was also a president of the Parent-Teachers Association. She was born in New York City in 1913, and died after a long illness at the age of 45 on August 5, 1959.
Andre Lavielle continued to run Le Robinson after the death of his wife, and resided in one of the cottages with his stepson. An early morning fire destroyed Le Robinson in February, 1960. The fire was discovered shortly after midnight, and had already spread through the wooden structure. The blaze could be seen for ten miles. The house was unoccupied. The Patterson Fire Department was summoned, and ran hoses to the nearby pond, but had trouble directing the water on the fire as high winds diverted the spray from the hoses. The winds sent sparks in the direction of the cottages, but they did not catch fire. Patterson Supervisor William Millar had a brush with death when he stepped on a live electrical wire that had fallen on the ground. He warned firemen and spectators away from the wire until power could be cut. The property was purchased byt the town of Patterson for use as a park.
Andre Lavielle also owned the Chez Andre Restaurant, located on NYS Route 22.
Among my father’s papers was this brochure, which gives an idea of what the resort looked like:
The Main House
From left: Louise and Walter Schloss, Unknown couple, Abe and Shirley Goldshlag
The boating pond with one of the beaches; in boat at left, Charles Martens who was a counselor there in 1957.
Lounge and Library
The Dining Area
On the extreme right are Jane Moskowitz and next to her Andre’s mother Angele who was visiting from France. In the back you can see Al Seymann and Nat Rothenberg.
Today the property remains, but has been transformed into a memorial park for veterans. It has been well-cared for and is a pleasant and attractive place, still used by families in the neighborhood.
The Old Wolf has spoken.
Hi David- my parents, brother and I were frequent guests at “The French Farm” and were booked to be there in 1960 when Andre called to tell us it had burned to the ground. We all knew Miriam–she passed away too soon. It’s all memories I’ll never forget!
Larry Bloom , Flushing, NY
Hi, Larry. David is my brother (Miriam was my father’s first wife). Nice to hear from someone who visited Le Robinson and also had fond memories of it. David still lives next to the old property, we visit as often as I can get back East.
Please send him best regards! I miss the place and still go up once a year to play a round at the Dutcher Golf course!
I will do so!
During my adolescence, my family spent six summers (1954-59) at Le Robinson, and I recall the these summers with fondness—Steve Smith
Thanks for writing, Steve. I just came across some lovely aerial photos of Le Robinson in my father’s archive, which I will be posting as an update soon. I also have very fond memories of this resort.
Look forward to seeing the photos. And please give David my regards. We spent a lot of time together as teenagers in the 1950s. I saw him briefly in 1990 or thereabouts when I stopped by during a trip from NYC to Vermont.
I’ll be sure to give your regards to David, Steve. The photos can be viewed at https://playingintheworldgame.wordpress.com/2014/01/16/le-robinson-resort-from-the-air/
If you have no objection, David would like your email address – he wants to write to you.
Sure. Please give it to him. I’d be delighted to hear from him.
He tried writing you at “p….firstname.lastname@example.org” but got no response. I wondered if that’s an active address. Why don’t you shoot me an email at ccdesan (same domain as yours) and I’ll forward it on to him.
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I came across this page. My family did not stay at the resort but at a house down the road. It was a stone house owned by the Huberts. We would come up to this place every summer. We knew the Huberts, Lily Jarden who was a painter as well as her husband and Elmo, Ethel Hudson and their son Albert who owned the farm at the end of Maple ave which I believe became Cushman Road. This was in the 1950’s and 1960’s. We swam in the pond.
Thanks for the memories!
I worked at the “French Farms” during the summer from the age of 14 to 17 (I think.) which would be 1956 to 1958. I knew Steve and David. Thought of Andre as a father figure but did not get along so well with Miriam. I remember Jon Wigderson and an older guy named Chris. I slept in a converted chicken coop that had a beehive in it one year. They drove me nuts…. Anyway, Good times. Never knew its real name.
Glad you came across the post. I’m about 10 years younger than you, so my memories of Miriam and Andre are much hazier, but I do remember my times at the farm with fondness.
Well, I’m very happy you kept these pictures. Brings back many memories. Most fond, some not so fond but that’s life. Thank you for maintaining this site.
George also worked in the summer of 1959..
Chris was my cousin, my mother’s sister’s son.
During summers of 1958 1959 George slept in a building we called the Waldorf. I don’t think it was ever a chicken coop, It may have at one time housed rabbits. There was a barn between the waldorf and another building we called the pavillon that at one time did have chickens. The pavillon was converted into housing for guests. In 1948 before Miriam and Andre bought Le robinson the barn burned. Neither the waldorf or pavillon were affected by the fire.
My parents and I spent many summers at “The French Farm” from 1954 and up until the Main House burned down. We were supposed to stay there for a February weekend, but tragically, it burned down days before. Many of my fondest memories are summers there in the little green cabin. My brother Gilbert worked in the kitchen a couple of summers. I noticed Steve Smith replied to you on this site. His sister Mindy was one of my closest friends during childhood and early teen years, and our mothers were best friends until his mother passed away. I lost touch with Mindy (Madeline) many years ago. I wonder if you might be able to put me in touch with Steve so that I might reconnect with his sister? Thank you for posting these wonderful photos…I actually recognize people in some of them!
Nina, did you attend HCES from oh, 1954 or so until 1962?
Yes I went to HCES. I think it was 1957-1962
♫ I know who you are… ♫
And awfully glad you happened to see this post. Shoot your email to email@example.com and I’ll do my best to get you in touch with Steve.
If you visited the French farm often, you doubtless knew my brother David, Miriam’s son. There’s a lot of intriguing history here that I would love to discuss with you.
In case you’re wondering, I’m in the picture as well.
some of the happiest days of my childhood were spent there.
This is Mindy. Please forward my e-mail address to Nina!
(I found her in the picture…which one are you?)
I will do so, Mindy.
I’m not 100% certain that I’m in the picture, although the fellow crouching on the bocce court looks an awful lot like my dad.Ah, I forgot I had posted our class picture. I’m the little cross-eyed wight on the right side in the second row.
There are some inaccuracies.
Joachim Hubert converted the property to a resort hotel. Hubert sold to Conen / Jordan who then sold to my mother Miriam and step father Andre Lavielle
It was never a boarding house or restaurant but. simply a resort hotel.
The guests were mainly families. They were older parents who had delayed having children because of the depression and WW2.
They were looking for a simple place where the children could have fun and the parents could sit outside. places like le robinson and the catskills died out as this clientelle disappeared
My mother Miriam was Le Robinson. Sadly she died from stomach cancer.
On a rainy stormy night with thunder and lightning the main house burned. It was around Jan 10, 1960..
In the first picture under the tree couple on left are Louise and Walter Schloss
I don’t know middle couple.
and on right Abe and Shirley Goldshlag
Person in boat in lake picture is charles martens who was a counsellor in summer of 1957
in the picture with the bocce court on the extreme right are jane moskowitz and next to her andre’s mother angele who was visiting from france in the back you can see al seymann and nat rothenberg when i first came to lerobinson as a guest the bocce court was a sandbox i don’t know when it became a bocce court
land was sold to town in 1962 and is a general park
itis called a veterans park because some people in town wanted to honor vietnam veterans that name was attached obviously well after 1962.
andre was murdered in may 6 1982 coming home from work i found the body
he had been shot twice with a 12 gauge shotgun and his blood was found in the little house about 40 feet away.
David, my husbands grandmother and grandfather MaryRose and Rene Connen owned the resort for 2-3 years prior to your mom and Andre buying it. My mother-in-law (she was around 10-11 when they moved back to NYC after they sold the resort) says that she remembers them and Andre worked at the resort for her parents. MaryRose died in 2017. I wish I had seen this blog before she passed away, it would have been great to hear her stories and post them. I will send more information when I have time to look up some of the documentation that we have.
Kaycee, thanks for adding to the history of Le Robinson. Just FYI, David passed away in February of 2021. Feel free to send updates and additional information to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several years ago the town removed the windmill. Before electricity came to patterson [well into the 1960’s a farm up the road had no electricity] the windmill was used to pump water to the big house. andre’s first job when he came to le robinson was to paint that windmill.
there was a room off the kitchen of the main house that was dubbed the royal astor.
george and a fellow Hope Farm school graduate russell golden may have slept there in 1957 and 1958 summer but johnny wigderson [who mowed the lawns and rolled and lined the tennis court] slept there in summer of 1959
Thanks for the valuable updates on this post, David.
I may have responded years ago but I stayed there many summers when I was about 10 in the 50’s. I remember Andre and Miriam and their dog Colie (as we called him). I remember him chasing me around the grounds.
I had free random of the household which included the kitchen where I got snacks even before regular meal times.
So many fond memories
Who are you? How did you come to post this?
This is Buck again. I just read through
The comments and knew that Mariam died of cancer but was shocked to read about Andre’s
My father was Miriam’s first husband. We visited there many times as I was growing up.
Hi! Thank you for posting this!!! My husband’s grandmother and grandfather owed this resort before Andre and Miriam did. We would love anymore information you have on the resort.
I wish I knew more, the place has a wonderful history. All I knew I have included here and in my other linked post about the aerial photos.
I may have some information to fill in some gaps before Miriam and Andre bought the resort. Over the weekend I will look to see what information I have. Do you know what year it was when your father took the photos from the air.