History

Where did the Braes get it's start

The story begins with a man named John Davidson, a wealthy New York City lawyer whose passion for trout fishing led him to buy a mile of the Salmon River along with 450 wooded acres in the Town of Redfield. In the 1890's he began to build a 21-room manor house on the hill overlooking the river. He named it "The Braes" which means hillside as it reminded of his ancestral Scottish homeland.

When he died in 1910, Davidson had left about 600 handwritten pages from his Journals describing fishing and winter holidays with notable guests at his beloved Braes. In the flyleaf of one of these journals he wrote these words, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Gal. 6:7. John Davidson quoted a divine principle, but he could never have guessed what the final reaping would be.

About 63 years after Davidson died, a couple by the name of Ron and Lorraine Hodge, who were leasing property next to the Braes, were out for a hike when they came across some a striking series of waterfalls while exploring Stony Brook one afternoon. "What a magnificent spot for youth retreats," they thought. For years they prayed the Lord might lead them into a missionary venture, especially with youth.

Not long after, a call came from an elderly couple, the Hodges did not know, who asked if they would visit the neighboring property and report on the condition of the long abandoned buildings. Ron and Lorraine drove up an overgrown , winding road and, at the top of the hill, discovered the Braes.

Contact The Braes
High Braes Refuge
196 Waterbury Rd
Redfield, NY 13437
Phone: (315) 599-7362
Fax: (315) 599-4005
contactus@highbraes.com
The Manor House and Stables were surrounded by weeds and brush. Doors hung open, the veranda sagged. Every windowpane had been broken and the roof leaked. Inside they found trashed rooms. Vandals had burned the doors and all but one rail and post of the cherry-wood staircase.

Though it seemed at first the best solution was to take the building down, Ron's contractor eye noted that the building stood plumb and square. So they prayed, and God oppened the door for the purchase of the Braes.

The story of The Braes restoration would fill a journal. As the project progressed, Ron and Lorraine sold their suburban home, surrendered their thriving contracting business and moved into a small 1812 farm house just down the hill from The Braes. With help from many friends and volunteers the Hodges converted a rich mans fishing lodge into High Braes Refuge, a Christian Retreat Center.

A Board was formed and the High Braes Refuge incorporated. Though restorations would take several years, the Hodges were recieving their first guest just one year after starting. Ron and Lorraine entered their missionary venture without salary. In time a staff of volunteers and missionary-supported workers joined them. Fall, winter and spring weekends found retreat groups gatherings around the restored fireplaces.

In 1980 a secondary objective was adopted - reaching out in Christian love and witness to an economically depressed area of Central New York. A free summer camp was provided each year for children and teens of nearby families who would not normally be unable to attend a summer camp program.

There is much more to tell about the History of The Braes and how it has developed to this day. One thing is clear, there has been a consistent pattern of Gods faithfulness and provision to this ministry. It has been used in many ways in the lives of both children and adults.

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