The property that today we call Gell: A Finger Lakes Creative Retreat was developed by Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth Gell, beginning in 1929, to be their private home. The Gells spent two and a half years searching for the perfect spot, and found it in this secluded 24-acre spread in the Bristol Hills. The breathtaking views, wildflowers and animal life were the perfect contrast to their life in the city of Rochester, conveniently located only 50 minutes away. They nicknamed their house “The Beagle”, after the ship that carried Charles Darwin on his voyages.
Dr. Gell was a man of diverse interests, with a passion for the arts and education. He and his wife, Geraldine, traveled to Canada every summer to attend the Shakespeare Festival, which they both loved. The Gells, after living here for many years, discussed ways in which their dream home could be used to benefit others.
Their ultimate goal was for their space to be used for creative purposes. They wanted the spirit of creativity and the quest for learning and growth to continue on when they could no longer live here. Today, Writers & Books carries on that spirit of lifelong learning and a respect for nature at Gell, now consisting of the Gell House which has two writers’ suites, the Gleason Lodge, the Thoreau Cabin, and the Tree House, which is currently under construction.