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Lake Living: Attol Tryst

Located in Breslin Park, the original summer lake cottage of actress Lotta Crabtree was built in 1886 and considered one of the more impressive structures in what once was a community of millionaires.

 By the time Lotta Crabtree was 20 years old she had gained great fame and fortune as a comic actress. Her celebrity status could easily be compared to that of today’s Julia Roberts.
Attol Tryst

Attol Tryst (Attol is Lotta spelled backwards) is an impressive 20-room house designed by famed Philadelphian architect Frank Furness, who was known to combine styles. The Attol Tryst is a blend of the styles Queen Anne and Swiss Chalet.
 The house has had six owners over the years. Thanks to its current owners of the last two decades, Robert and Sherry O’Donnell, who painstakingly restored the house to its original design, it once again has the grace and grandeur of yesteryear. In fact, one could expect Lotta Crabtree herself to answer the original massive Dutch front door or meander down the homes elaborate walnut staircase.
In the entrance way of the grand home is an ornate fireplace, complete with large gargoyles adorning each side of the structure.

“Honestly, I think this fireplace is what sold my husband on the house,” said Sherry O’Donnell.

The O’Donnells restored woodwork, walnut paneled walls, doors, hardware, light fixtures and other original items in the house. What could not be restored was milled or reproduced as a replica or to fit the era of the structure. Although the garage looks like an  original structure to the site, it was built by Robert, who included details that make it fit perfectly into the architectural design of the house.

Over the years, items-which were part of the original structure or décor of the home had been sold or destroyed by previous owners. With the help of Marty Kane, President of the Lake Hopatcong Historical Society, some of those precious items have returned “home”.

“We were so happy to find the original stain glass windows which lined the staircase. We plan to put them back in their original place by reconfiguring the windows,” said O’Donnell.

Another great find was Crabtree’s own billiard table, which was the focal point of her game room. The game table was actually attached to the wood floor back in 1886.

“It came back to us in pieces. But with a lot of work it looks like it once did,” said O’Donnell.

Also original to the game room is the green light fixture above the billiard table and the wooden score keeper suspended from the ceiling. The fireplace mantel in the game room originally spelled out “18 LOTTA 86,” in colorful gemstones. However most of the stones are long gone having been shot out with a gun by a former homeowner-either the bootlegger who secured and locked the house like a fortress, or the gambler who used the house as a casino.

Over the years the family has acquired photos of the actress that are displayed throughout the home and blend nicely among the O’Donnell family pictures.

The home boasts 10 original fireplaces, eight bedrooms, third floor servants quarters-where the O’Donnell children played when they were little and entertained as teens.

A massive porch overlooks the lake and is the perfect spot for entertaining. A wine cellar and the kitchen were originally in the basement where all the meals were prepared. The servants used dumbwaiters to bring the meals to the second floor.

“My favorite spot in the house would have to be my master bathroom though,” said O’Donnell. “It is a very relaxing place.”

Attol Tryst
Attol Tryst, back during the era when actress Lotta Crabtree used it as a summer retreat.

A gargoyle stands guard. ll_-_odonnell_gargoyle.jpg

A gargoyle stands guard at Attol Tryst (left). Right: These ornate gargoyle figures adorn the left and right side of the foyer fireplace and may be Robert O’Donnell’s favorite item in the house.





Stairs to the dock overlook Van Every Cove.

Attol Tryst Attol Tryst

The powder room and second floor full bathroom each have Victorian charm.

Attol Tryst - circular deck

A large circular deck overlooks the lake and provides a breezy, shady place to relax.

The original kitchen in 1886 was in the basement, where servants prepared the meals.

The billiard table is original to the Crabtree home but was missing for years. Thanks to historian Martin Kane, the billiard table was located and returned to the home.   The original billiard game score keeper is mounted in the game room, as is the infamous gem stone fireplace with few stones remaining. Before being shot at by gun by former homeowner, the colorful stones spelled "18 LOTTA 86."

Attol Tryst dining room
The O’Donnell family dining room. Above is an ornamental wooden door topper found by Robert O’Donnell.

Attol Tryst gems Lotta Crabtree  Wedding Veil
The home is tastefully adorned with memorabilia and antiques, including those that recognize the original owner — such as gemstones in the fireplace that once spelled "18 LOTTA 86" and pictures of actress Lotta Crabtree herself — as well as personal mementos. Among the antiques are family wedding photos and a wedding veil worn by Sherry O’Donnell as a bride. A picture that was part of the original home decor was tracked down and now hangs on the wall.

ll_-_odonnell_desk.jpgAntique desk
An antique writing desk perfectly fits in among the intricate wood paneling.

Hand painted cabinetry and antiques make this master bathroom Sherry O’Donnell’s favorite room.

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The third-floor hallway connects what were once the servants’ quarters and now serve as bedrooms. The O’Donnell children used the area for playing and having friends over.

The staircase that dominates the home’s entryway is original.

The house, built in 1886, has many of these little visually pleasing and warmly inviting nooks for sitting.

The master bedroom features a lovely combination of antique furniture, as well as its own fireplace.

Pocket doors and decorative drapes provided privacy by seperating rooms and contained heat in the cold weather. Sherry found the drapes in an antique shop.

The living room is warm and inviting with period antiques and original walnut wood work. This is one of ten original fireplaces in the home.

One of Attol Tryst’s nine bedrooms.

Original light fixtures and other hardware can be found throughout the O’Donnells’ home.

The wood floors were done by Robert O’Donnell, who went to great lengths to renovate the house to its original beauty.

Homeowner Sherry O’Donnell stands at the front door of her historical Lotta Crabtree home. The Dutch door is original to the home.

View from the street Car park
The house’s grandeur is visible from the street, and a circular driveway with car port makes parking a breeze. It’s just one more example of how a beautiful historical home fits comfortably into the O’Donnells’ lifestyle.

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