News came this week that “Glenotia Island” is up for sale (for a mere $91,000). Growing up in Scotia, I never heard it called “Glenotia” — if anyone had a name for it, it was Isle of the Mohawks, and it appeared as such on maps of the time. Maps from around 1905 failed to name any of the islands except Van Slyck, the southernmost of the group of islands in that stretch of the river, which with the filling of the Binnekill has long since ceased to be an island at all, but instead is part of the grounds of SCCC.
This ad from 1917 is for the Mohawk Swimming School, which was located at Glenotia Park, on the Isle of the Mohawks. It sounds like a recreational paradise: “Large Bathing Beach — Big Diving Tower & Floating Tables. Swimming Taught in Scientific Way.” Plus tennis courts, a race track, baseball diamonds, football grounds. Even a roller skating and dancing pavilion, which were the things my grandmother and great grandmother remembered best. There was a set of stairs down from Riverside Avenue and a pontoon bridge across to the island. There was electric light, bands, dancing and romance.
The Mohawk Swimming School was established, according to the Schenectady County Historical Society’s Acadia book “Glenville,” by Werner Gewecke, who ran it from 1915 to 1930. He lived at 151 Riverside Avenue in Scotia. He was a German immigrant who listed his occupation in 1920 as “constructor” for a boat company.