Sullivan County lake real estate
Lake Joseph

Lake Joseph real estate

Lake Joseph is a 250 acre private non-motorboat lake the straddles the towns of Thompson and Forestburgh, 4 miles south of Monticello. Lake Joseph has an interesting history. It started out as a private hunting estate for a wealthy New Yorker in the late 1800’s and after his death, in the early 20th century, was sold to an order of Dominican Sisters who transformed it into a retreat, which also served as the summer home for a number of cardinals of the Archdiocese of New York. While most of the buildings from that era have been demolished, the main lodge of the original Talmadge estate, near the southern end of the lake, is now the charming Inn at Lake Joseph, and an old lakeside chapel sits astride Lake Joseph’s community beach.

In the 1980’s, a developer saw the potential of Lake Joseph, and launched the initial phase of Lake Joseph as a residential community. About 50 parcels were sold and 30 or so homes, lakefront and non-lakefront, were built on the western shore of the lake. Further expansion stalled, and as of this writing, this is the only development on the lake. Houses in the original subdivision are generally on 1/2 to 3/4 acre lots. The lion’s share of the shoreline surrounding Lake Joseph remains unbuilt, but may be built out in the next few years. However, the ‘new; section of the lake will likely follow the current trend of larger parcel sizes and covenants to protect the natural shoreline.

Lake Joseph offers one of the best values for buyers looking for something between the smaller parcels on older traditional lakes, and the pricier offerings at Black Lake, Kenoza or Chapin. Lakefront houses come to market here in the $300,000 to $500,000 range, while non-lakefront houses are typically in the $200,000 range.

Most houses here were built in the late 80’s to early 90’s, in a ‘mountain contemporary’ style, with cathedral ceilings and more open plan layouts. Exteriors are all wood, required by covenants. But there isn’t a lot of tree separation between houses, and it has a bit of a ‘suburban subdivision in the mountains’ feel, which is a turn off to some buyers. Buyers, though, can score a lot more house on a very pretty lake for the same price as a house on a smaller, more ‘rustic’ lake like Wolf.

An added bonus is that the Lake Joseph community has an inground swimming pool and tennis courts for owner use, one of the few lake communities here with those amenities

One caution to note. The Monticello Motor Club, a private membership race track and club for fast car afficionados, isn’t far from the north end of Lake Joseph. When drivers are racing on the motor club track, there is some noise spillover to Lake Joseph. Some people don’t mind it, for others it’s a deal breaker. The motor club operates in warmer weather, and is more active on weekends and weekdays. So if you’re considering a house here, be sure to make at least one visit on warm weather weekend day when it’s not raining, when the club is most likely to be operating.

Lake Joseph Quick Facts
  • Non-motorboat lake
  • Approx. 250 acres
  • Private, no public access, not not gated.
  • 88 miles from the George Washington Bridge
  • Parcel sizes: approx. 1/2 acre
  • Rentals permitted
  • House prices: Lakefront $300,000 to $500,000. Non-lakefront $175,000 to $250,000.