In the latter part of the 19th century, Thomas Hunt Talmage, a businessman from Brooklyn, built the structure as a summer residence which included the lake and 2000 acres of wilderness. Just prior to its completion, he died.
A few years later, a group of lost Dominican Sisters from Long Island were looking for property for a new retreat. With horse and carriage, they accidentally turned onto a secluded road and came across Talmage House. Mrs. Talmage sold the estate to the sisters and became a close friend and supporter of the order. She lived in the home the remainder of her life, as a guest.
As time passed, they developed a self-contained retreat which included farming, schools, children’s camps, a convent and a drug rehabilitation center. In addition, Lake Joseph became a major family vacation facility with many guest houses and cottages.
In the thirties, the Talmage House became the vacation home of Cardinals Hayes and Spellman. The house hosted hundreds of international dignitaries and celebrities over the years and became known as the Cardinal House.
The facility known as Saint Joseph reached its peak in the late sixties and closed after 120 years of service in the late seventies. Most of the existing buildings were raised and the land was returned to its original wilderness state leaving the Talmage House standing.
In the early eighties, two lost Sunday drivers turned down a secluded road to seek directions back to the main highway. There stood the Talmage House, a bit ruffled but in reasonably good condition waiting to be discovered again.
They immediately envisioned the dwelling as a fine country inn and welcomed its first guests in 1982.