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Origin Story: The Short Version

Pete Lyons

The impulse that would eventually result in the creation of Focus Retreat Center happened while driving along the narrow forrest roads winding along lake shores in Adirondack State Park. The area was dotted with summer camps in its heyday and I remarked off hand I should buy one of these old summer camps and invite a bunch of coders to vacation there. This was in the summer of 2019 and at that point it was just a fun offhand daydream. Nothing more than a chuckle.

As we crossed one year of pandemic restrictions in the winter of 2021, the lasting impact on our jobs and hobbies (mostly in the live music industry) began to set in. We were reminded that many of our familiar comforts were subject to impermanence. Good health was not guaranteed. And we ourselves were subject to mortality. This brought both a sense of detachment from the roots of our lifestyle as well as urgency around pursuing our dreams. We started browsing commercial real estate listings, starting with a pancake restaurant listing a family member sent us, and covering houses, inns, taverns, offices, and motels.

Most of these places were no-gos for one of many reasons: stark disrepair, insufficient bedroom capacity, literally being the subject property on an episode of Ghost Hunters (shout out to Toboggan Inn!), no high speed Internet service available, or way out of budget. There was one interesting listing of a big building originally constructed as a Catholic Schoolhouse in a town just outside the boundaries of the park with a Spectrum office in town and high speed Internet available. But the listing was super sparse and shrouded in mystery: no interior photos at all. No details on condition, heating, etc.

Since this is the short version of the story, I'll skip the fiasco ordeal we went through between seeing the listing and eventually purchasing the property, but in that building is what we ended up turning into Focus Retreat Center.