Skip to main content

The Mountain Airstrip Farm

A venue Wedding Dreams are Made of

“Look,” he tells me. “The bride and groom always remember where they got married, right? – It’s one of the biggest events in their life together. At the end of the day, it’s all about making memories. Here, at the Mountain Airstrip Farm, we help customize them.”

About ten minutes prior, my GPS led me to 35 Dean Mountain Road, where a pristine white wooden fence and dirt road lined with trees opened, presenting the star of the show – a fantastic farmhouse with old stone steps and an expansive front porch built during another era - one more genteel than ours. 

Now, I find myself speaking with Chandler Atkins, owner of this stunning 170-acre property in Hadley, New York, where both Hollywood and Broadway elite once lived, relaxed, and played. I know – Hadley? Hollywood? Broadway? Who would’ve thought?

Just over half an hour from Saratoga, Hadley is a small, charming hamlet – covering 32 square miles of curving roads, sandy soil, stellar views of creeks, the Hudson and Sacandaga Rivers, and mountains that form a gateway to our famed Adirondack Park.

We’re sitting at the bar inside the main six-bedroom house – I marvel at the natural light streaming in through the windows, highlighting the white walls, black floors, and touches of red throughout. The place oozes comfort, an arms-wide-open welcome, and the peace and quiet people crave when traveling in from the city or towns nearby. 

When I ask Chandler how he named the location, he points to the barns and airstrip just beyond my view. “The 3,000-foot grassy area is where many celebrities flew in for a visit, one being movie-starlet Veronica Lake, who lived here with her stage and film lyricist husband, Joseph McCarthy Jr. She loved spending time at their country home and was host to the likes of Mickey Rooney, Marlon Brando, James Cagney, Ziegfeld Follies, chess legend Bobby Fischer, and more.” 

“We just opened and have already booked 15 nights. We’ve also hosted our first wedding. Our tents, set up on the lawns, can hold up to 200 people. We aim to book unique weddings, events, and vacation stays from early spring to November each year.” He grins, sharing how he’s not fond of the cold and tends to travel during winter when the venue is closed.

Atkins walks me through each room and bathroom of the house. All the little touches he and his events planner Katie Hawkins have incorporated into the home strike me with romance and a nod to the past. Framed photos of the movie star and lyrics her husband wrote adorn the walls, a small red airplane rests on the fireplace mantle, and chess piece bookends are arranged on open shelving units that separate one room from the next. Each bedroom is called by the name of the people who slept there. Nameplates are set at the dining table where Hollywood and Broadway's stars once leaned back, probably stretching their arms or rubbing their bellies after a great meal – to point out a few of these purposeful decisions. (Don’t worry; more history surrounding the property and owners will come in my next story!)

Purchased in 2021, Chandler has done extensive work in the house and on the property – and I can tell you it shows. “There was no plumbing, no heating. You could see straight outdoors from the inside,” he explains with a laugh and a deep sigh. “It had truly been neglected for the last half-century.” Gosh, had the man bitten off more than he could chew? Not from the looks of it!   

Chandler explains there’s enough room for 16 people here at what’s known as the McCarthy Farmhouse– most often more than the wedding party. The overflow of wedding guests can rent and stay at his other property just a few miles away, The Elms Waterfront Cottages and Lodge, in Lake Luzerne. It sounds perfect; who wants to drive home after enjoying a fantastic wedding when you can stay on the shore, build a roaring campfire before bed, and wake up to the sunrise after a good night’s sleep? “Many people aren’t aware that what some call Phelps Bay was originally named Tiosaronda Bay by the Iroquois Indians. It means ‘meeting of the waters,’” Chandler explains. “And that’s what I say to potential couples when considering us for their wedding needs; after all, isn’t it exactly what they are doing?”

When we wander outside, I see Adirondack chairs surrounding a fire pit, a massive hot tub, a place for grilling, and even a functioning outhouse and shower! It honestly seems as if you don't need to leave once you’ve arrived on the property for a weekend or extended stay. 

“I want people to enjoy the outdoors while here,” Chandler tells me emphatically. Five monster-sized ATVs and one UTV side-by-side sit down in the barns – one of which is named ‘Veronica Lake Studio and Movie Barns,’ another nod to yesteryear. Chandler grins at me. “I will ride this one, and you’ll take that one. Come on – I want to show you something.” Um, uh, okay? We don helmets and goggles and make our way into the woods, where I’m thrilled to see he’s cleared the way – taking down only what he needed to make a road for this cool outdoor activity.   

When we finally stop for a few minutes, he points to another white fence where, just inside, there is a private cemetery, once belonging to the original owners, the Ellis family. “People staying at the farm can rent the ATVs and come here to check out headstones dating back to the late 1700s - early 1800s, visit the river, or make their way into the mountains. First, we take them on our Dual Track System, introducing them to ATV riding. This helps build their skills and makes them feel confident before heading into the woods. We also offer 2-hour guided tours, where we travel around the property along winding trails, across bridges, along the river, and over slopes and hilly terrain.” It’s easy to picture the wedding party shaking off stress and having fun in the wild before the big day. Besides that, they even offer safety certificates and riding lessons to young people who don’t own or know how to ride an ATV. 

Chandler says he plans to offer hiking and repelling adventures off a ledge on Antone Mountain. “We’ll drop them off and pick them up later with the ATVs, allowing them to rock climb, hike, and repel down the cliffs for a few hours. It’ll be quite an outdoor experience and should be ready in the next few years.” Over at The Elm’s, a property he’s owned for 29 years, people can enjoy plenty of R&R, swimming, and all kinds of watercraft rentals. “My focus is all about the great outdoors,” he tells me. Kayaking, lazy-river rafting, sup boarding, tubing, boating, fishing – you name it, he’s got it.

“I’m the third owner of Mountain Airstrip Farm. But I feel as if I’m more of a caretaker,” Chandler states, looking off into the distance. “Down the road, someone will take over the job. Right now, I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of those who were here before me. I just want to make them proud.”  

Want to learn more about this property and its history? See the 2023 Fall issue of Simply Saratoga. 
For more |