QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Every year, the Queensbury Hotel dresses into the nines for Christmas. Holly, lights, and a towering tree in the lobby are a normal sight, while across the street, City Park lights up its trees for the season. This year, there’s something new in the hotel lobby – and you may have to hold back the urge to take a bite.

The Queensbury Hotel lobby is home to a life-sized gingerbread house, 11 feet tall and 14 wide, crafted from gingerbread handmade by hotel chef Adam Savage and his team. Decorations outside and within include enormous lollipops and hundreds of candy canes, all provided by The Candy Space in Lake George. Just under 1,000 pounds of gingerbread came together over several weeks.

“There’s a lot that goes into constructing this – first and foremost, that the structure is sturdy and stable,” Savage explained on Tuesday. “It’s all edible – all the gingerbread, candy, cookies – so it was pretty neat for us to do.”

Savage and his kitchen staff were in charge of baking the gingerbread, and collaborated with hotel construction head Art Belden to design it. Belden and his team were the ones in charge of putting it all together. Savage has spent years in kitchens, and Belden in construction – but this was new territory for them both.

“I saw the plans, and the scale, and went ‘This is a gingerbread house we’re building?'” said Belden. “I felt really fortunate to be a part of it.”

queensbury hotel gingerbread house
Santa peeks through the window of the Queensbury Hotel gingerbread house.

How to build a gingerbread house

The Queensbury Hotel gingerbread house took a lot to come together. Those sweet somethings include:

  • 987 pounds of gingerbread, all baked in-house
  • 223 pounds of icing
  • 152 pounds of assorted candy
  • 247 work hours

The gingerbread may be completely edible, but it’s not quite what you would get from a classic cookie. The chef found a recipe for “structural gingerbread,” an unleavened version designed to not swell up. Although incredibly dense and not a lot of fun to bite into, the structural gingerbread has all the sugar, cinnamon and spice as the traditional kind.

Likewise, just because it’s gingerbread doesn’t mean that it can’t handle some human weight. When the house is that big, it needs to. Workers spent about two and a half days on top of the house, installing the green-dyed slabs of gingerbread that make up the roof.

“You don’t really get into construction thinking you’ll be using food for building materials,” Belden said with a laugh. “Or that you’ll be using icing for glue.”

A layer of icing covers the house’s ceiling, resembling a popcorn-style ceiling. Inside, over a fake fireplace and jolly Santa Claus, one thing is decidedly not edible. A very real light fixture hangs down, keeping the scene illuminated for all who come by.

The fixture has had its own journey. Belden purchased a 130-year-old Glens Falls house a couple of years back, and found it in the renovation process. It had been sitting in his basement for some time, and got a fresh coat of paint before becoming part of the fresh attraction.

A season for all

The gingerbread house will be up in the hotel lobby through to January. While it’s up, there isn’t much upkeep to be done – apart from keeping a keen eye for any ambitious kid coming to take a bite out of it.

“People are very excited – it’s very fun and festive for the holidays,” said Savage. “It was a blast being a part of it, and the community is really enjoying it.”

Kids may not be allowed to get up close and touch – or bite, or lick – the house, but they can interact with it. A train track runs in front of it, then loops around and shoots right through the inside, carrying a model train provided by Upstate Model Railroaders, a train enthusiast group based out of South Glens Falls. Kids can get the train running at the push of a button.

Once the holidays are done, the house will get torn down. Savage and Belden are both thrilled by what they and their teams have done, and can’t wait to get cooking again in another 11 months.

In the meantime, anyone can visit the hotel and visit the gingerbread house. The hotel has two holiday open house events set for the next two Saturdays, Dec. 10 and 17, both from noon to 2 p.m. Both will feature refreshments, children’s crafts, and a chance to get a photo with Santa Claus.