Jus Haven

Historic marker on the site of The Colony.

Historic marker sign for "The Colony".

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Known Name(s)

Jus Haven


Greenwood Lake, NY (Primary) (1963, 1964, 1966)
(Off Route 17A and Nelson Rd, Sterling Forest State Park Warwick, NY) (Modern Address)

Establishment Type(s)


Physical Status



While images of this building are not available, the structure was part of a community of 70+ residential buildings in a rural residential district. The entirety of this community was referred to as Sterling Forest Farms, more colloquially known as “The Colony."

Detailed History

Sterling Forest Farms (also known as Greenwood Forest Farms and colloquially, “The Colony”) was founded in 1919 by the Sterling Forest Farms Corporation, which was headed by a group Black Brooklynites, who initially met as part of a Foreign Trade Study Club in the Carlton Avenue (Brooklyn) YMCA. The group of nine initially were interested in conducting an import and export business with emerging South American republics, but World War I made this type of foreign trade impossible. As five additional investors joined the initial nine men, the focus of the group shifted to creating a vacation site that was different than those they had previously visited— a site that would not place any racial restrictions on Black vacationers.

Upon its founding, lots at the site were offered to the public at a price range between $150 and $300. The property initially consisted of 143 acres of land in the Ramapo Mountains. The New York Amsterdam News reported on The Colony as early as 1933, with the paper’s “Brooklyn Society” column informing readers of the visitors to the site. For example, in 1933, the Amsterdam News reported that Mrs. Walter Taylor hosted Mrs. Willard J. Price and her daughters, and that the guest party of Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Webster drove from Baltimore, MD to vacation at The Colony. A large number of socialites from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts were early residents of The Colony. The Colony became popular with Black vacationers very quickly, with nearly 200 guests visiting just for July 4th weekend 1938. In 1938, the exclusive summer colony contained 28 residences. By 1971, this number was up to 75. Some of the buildings on site, such as “Justice House” (owned by Harlemite Robert W. Justice) were built to accommodate up to sixty guests at a time. The Colony advertised its proximity to forests, high mountains, and other of “nature’s gifts,” along with a private lake that cost $5,000 to construct during the Great Depression and stabled horses for vacationers to ride. The private lake had to be constructed because African Americans were barred from recreational use of nearby Greenwood Lake.

The Colony would later feature live music, dance, poetry readings, swimming, boating, tennis, billiards, and a nurser school called The Beehive. Commercial businesses were banned from operating on the site, with milk, baked goods, ice, and vegetable vendors delivering their products to the site. According to the Amsterdam News, The Colony was a steady source of employment for both “Negro men handy with tools” and “native whites” from nearby Greenwood Lake. Prominent visitors to The Colony include: Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Douglas, Lanston Hughes, J. Rosamond Johnson, James Farmer, the Honorable Myles Paige, Cecil McPherson, Dr. Gertrude Curtis, Robert J. Elzy, and Harold W. Cruise. The community began to decline in the 1960s as younger descendants of regular residents vacationed elsewhere or moved away from the region. A historical marker was installed in 2006, and the site was designated as a protected part of Sterling Forest State Park on January 11, 2022.

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