The Orendaga on Northville Lake in Johnstown

The historic Orendaga inn on Northville Lake in Johnstown, NY is an overnight destination for guests from around the world.

By Jessica Mozo on April 29, 2011 at 3:58 am EST
Owners of the Orendaga on Northville Lake


Husband-and-wife team Michael Intrabartola and Michele Drozd have a knack for turning straw into gold. In 2002, they purchased a dilapidated historic inn on Northville Lake and breathed new life into it, making it an overnight destination for guests from around the world.

The Orendaga on Northville Lake had been a destination for travelers for many years, possibly ever since the first cabin was built in the early 1900s by Mr. C.H. Small,” Drozd says. “When we acquired the property, the cabins, motel, outbuildings and circa 1850 Main House had all fallen into complete disrepair. We felt the lakeside property had potential, and we wanted to create an alternative place to stay that utilized our skills as fine carpenters, gardeners, artists and world travelers.”

Bellwether Ceramic Studio

Both graduates of the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, the couple also has a knack for turning clay into beautiful pottery. Guests at The Orendaga can take a pottery lesson at the inn’s Bellwether Ceramic Studio, housed in the property’s restored carriage house.

Situated on 2.5 acres within the bustling village of Northville, The Orendaga includes the circa 1850 Main House & Gallery (restoration in progress), the Bellwether Ceramic Studio, three private cabins and two gracious suites. The rooms are decorated with the owners’ handmade pottery and fresh-cut flowers from their garden.

“As artists, we wanted our guests to be surrounded by fine craftsmanship and a variety of artwork, both in their rooms and in the gardens,” Drozd says. “When restoring the cabins and redesigning the suites, we wanted to maintain all the positive aspects, keeping the vintage feel and emphasizing the beauty of lakeside property while taking advantage of our Main Street location within the village.”

The result is the best of two worlds – guests can feel like they’re a million miles from nowhere in the private lakeside oasis of The Orendaga, yet still be within walking distance to all Northville has to offer, including shops, restaurants, the Northville Public Library and Java John’s coffee shop.

The cabins and suites have fully equipped kitchenettes, where guests can prepare meals flavored with herbs cut from The Orendaga gardens.

“We also have organic handmade soaps, our own pottery on the shelves and organic and fair trade teas and coffees in the cabins and suites,” Drozd says. “Guests can take a pottery lesson in our studio, take the kayaks or rowboats out for a paddle, ride our vintage bicycles into town or have a cookout in our picnic area.”

Committed to Conservation

Besides its artistic vibe, The Orendaga is unusual for its commitment to conservation and the environment, from the energy efficient bulbs in the light fixtures to the compost and recycling bins in the kitchens. Instead of air conditioning, the rooms are cooled by fans and fresh breezes, and linens dry on a clothes line in the sunshine instead of in a dryer. The owners even use only all-natural and biodegradable cleaning products.

“Our family has been visiting the Adirondacks for generations, and as avid outdoors people, we recognize the importance of the environmental responsibility that comes with choosing to live and work within the Blue Line,” Drozd says. “Our guests come to enjoy the beauty of the Sacandaga Valley and Southern Adirondacks, and it is only natural that we work toward sustainability and make choices that help protect our environment for future generations.”

In 2011, Drozd and Intrabartola plan to offer private ceramic lessons and create an artist residency position in the studio. They also plan to open a gallery to showcase their artwork on the first floor of the Main House.

“The upstairs will become private quarters, and the downstairs will be the reception and gallery,” Drozd says. “We are looking forward to finishing the house and opening it up to guests and the community. It will be a beautiful spot to view artwork, have a cup of coffee and relax on the deck overlooking the lake.”

Learn more about the arts in Johnstown, NY.

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