It takes a keen understanding of the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States to appreciate the central role nature has taken in the community of Mountain Lakes. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Arts and Crafts school of thought inspired a movement towards simple living that incorporated a reverence for the soothing effects of nature and its ability to heal both spiritually and physically.
Mountain Lakes’ developer, Herbert Hapgood, incorporated many of those values into both the landscape and the homes of the community. Hapgood’s homes were meant to reflect harmony with nature by using the natural materials in the surrounding area. Chestnut trees became wainscoting, rubblestone was used for foundations, and the plentiful boulders were transformed into landscaping walls. The homes had upstairs sleeping porches designed to take advantage of the naturally cool nights. Large windows let the sun shine in. While the substantial homes lured many new residents to Mountain Lakes, the early promotional material advertised the community as “The Home of Nature Lovers”. It listed features such as its mountains, hills, valleys, strings of lakes, eight miles of shoreline, pure air, and cool temperature in the summer and shelter in the winter. Through its adherence to the original founding values, the steadfast diligence of its citizens, and good planning, Mountain Lakes could still advertise the same community today as it did a century ago.