By Holly Fiorella, Chairperson Lake Mohawk Historic Committee
White Deer Plaza was added to the New Jersey and National Register of Historic Places in 1988 because of its unique architecture which led to the development of the style “Lake Mohawk Tudor.” Lake Mohawk Tudor defines buildings built between 1927 and 1935, under the supervision of the Crane Company.
In mid-1929, West Shore Trail was completed and the gatehouse was built with a small residence for Jasper Greene, the gatekeeper hired by the Crane Company. Lake Mohawk Co-Founder Herbert Closs had travelled to Montreal, Canada, and was given a uniform from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police which was copied for the gatekeeper. The gatehouse was designed by architect Edwin Closs. Unfortunately, this property commonly referred to as the Sparta Gatehouse, was not included in the application to the National Register of Historic Places, yet it truly represents the style “Lake Mohawk Tudor.”
In 1938, the Crane Company hired Chief Big Mountain, a Comanche Indian, as the gatekeeper for the south gatehouse (now commonly known as the Byram Gatehouse). He and his wife, Princess White Dove and their six children, added to the Native American influence of the Reservation. In the early forties, Princess White Dove gave birth to one of their sons in the thatched roof cottage, the first Native American to be born in Sussex County in 121 years. Chief Big Mountain and his family participated in many parades and special events during their time in Lake Mohawk.
The architectural significance of the Sparta gatehouse and cultural importance of the Byram gatehouse considerably impacted the foundation of the Reservation, leading to its success as a planned community from inception, throughout the Great Depression, and to the present day. They represent an important part of our history and remind us to acknowledge those who helped make the Reservation what it is today.