Undated subdivision map, showing the Algonquin School, near the bottom, and the "School on the Hill" just above From the cover of an Algonquin School brochure Tupper Lake Free Press and Herald, October 22, 1942 The Algonquin School was started by Mrs. Alice Worden in 1935 at 34 Algonquin Avenue as a residential school for developmentally disabled children. (Not to be confused with the School on the Hill, sometimes called the Algonquin Avenue School.)  The building was built by Alice Worden's husband, psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Worden, who erected the two large buildings on several acres as a mental hospital. In 1941, Lee W. Knight and his wife, Evelyn, bought the school.

The same area today.  The Lapan Highway (State Route 3) was built from near the north end of Algonquin Avenue to Main StreetGlenn T. Manning taught there in 1944. Charlotte B. DeSormo also worked there.

It was taken over by the Knights' daughter, Glenda Clayton and her husband Ray. It burned in 1976, and was closed shortly thereafter.

Marie Leis Pearce, Henry P. Leis: The Man from Saranac Lake, Chapter VI, pp. 5, 6

The triangular piece of land to the south of the school house lot was owned by Mary Eppe in my childhood. There was a large house and barn built towards the back of this piece of property. I'm not sure who built this but I believe that Mary was perhaps a widow when we were growing up. I believe there had also been a bowling alley coming out towards the street. This was no longer used in my day but a small wing was attached to this which contained a "Mom &, Pop" type neighborhood grocery store. It stocked staples and some other items such as bread, lunch meats and dairy products. When we were left home alone (which happened fairly frequently), mother would give us money so we could go over and get something for our lunches. It also possessed a wonderful "penny-candy" counter. I can still remember our figuring out how to get meat and bread for sandwiches and still have enough for two or three pieces of candy. My special favorite was a coconut concoction made up to look like a strip of bacon.

By the time that we were in high school, a Dr. Worden and his wife had purchased the place and made it into a luxurious private psychiatric hospital. He was a psychiatrist who had tuberculosis, I believe. He was also the high school doctor and the first to tell me that I had an elevated blood pressure. My brother, Lee, drove him and his family to the Chicago World's Fair since the doctor was not well enough to drive that distance. Later this hospital was made into the Algonquin School, which was a residence home for problem children. It burned later.

Potsdam Herald-Recorder, June 10, 1938

Miss Schwartz was an honor student at St. Lawrence University where she graduated in 1937. For the past year she has been teaching in the Algonquin School at Saranac Lake,

Plattsburgh Daily Republican, December 29, 1941


Lee Knight to Operate Alonquin School at Saranac Lake

The Algonquin School for Backward Children located on Algonquin Avenue, Saranac Lake, was purchased Saturday by Lee Knight, Lake Placid, a graduate of Plattsburgh State Normal school. He will take possession January 15 and will continue operation of the school on the system it has been following.

Mr. Knight purchased the school, consisting of two large buildings and several acres of land, from Mrs. Walter Laidlaw, who was Mrs. Alice Worden until her marriage two months ago to Mr. Laidlaw of Syracuse. She established the school after the death of her first husband, Dr. Stephen Worden, a psychiatrist, who erected the buildings as a mental hospital.

Following his graduation from State Normal school here Mr. Knight did postgraduate work in psychology and psychiatry at St. Lawrence and Boston universities. Until recently he had been employed in the welfare office of the town of North Elba.

Adirondack Record-Elizabethtown Post, January 1, 1942

Lake Placid Man Buys Saranac Lake School

The Algonquin School for Backward Children, consisting of two large buildings and several acres of land, was sold Saturday by Mrs. Walter Laidlaw to Lee Knight of Lake Placid.

Mr. Knight will take possession on January 15 and will continue operation of the school on the system it has been following.

Mrs. Laidlaw, who was Mrs. Alice Worden until her marriage two months ago to Mr. Laidlaw of Syracuse, established the school after the death of her first husband, Dr. Stephen Worden. Dr. Worden, a psychiatrist, built the institution in Algonquin Avenue, close to Route 3, as a mental hospital.

Mr. Knight was graduated from Plattsburg Normal School and took postgraduate work in psychology and psychiatry at St. Lawrence and Boston universities. He has been employed in the welfare office of the town of North Elba. He will make his home at the school.

Essex County Republican, August 4, 1944

Student Dies While Swimming In Lake

Nine-year-old Marion Hardyk of 2262 Sedgwick drive, New York city, a pupil at Algonquin school, Saranac Lake, died shortly after 2:30 p. m. Tuesday while swimming with a group in lower Saranac Lake, near Crescent Bay.

Whether her death was due to drowning was undetermined, however, and Coroner William A. Wardner scheduled an autopsy for Tuesday night. The girl had been ill for some time, it was said, and may have been stricken while swimming. Companions reported that Marian suddenly fell back in the water and was immersed for only seconds before Glenn Manning, camp director for the school, took her out. Efforts to resuscitate the girl with a pulmotor failed. Witnesses said the girl was in fairly shallow water at the time of her death and that the depth "wasn't over her head." She was the daughter of Mrs. Margaret Hardyk of New York city.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, April 1, 1963

ADIRONDACK Personalities



Had lunch the other day with a delightful couple so busy living life that they have little time to sit around and talk about it. Or even about themselves. Before the after-luncheon coffee had cooled enough to drink, they had dashed off in all directions on errands connected with their profession — leaving a bewildered columnist with a pamphlet and a confused feeling that he had somehow missed the boat — and had gotten only a glimpse of greatness that could never be captured and put in printed words.

W. Lee Knight and Evelyn Walton Knight are the people involved; and a busier, happier couple would be hard to find. They are the proprietors of the Algonquin School of Saranac Lake, a year-round school for mentally retarded children. It is always a miracle when a normal, healthy baby is born. A never-ending miracle. But every so often, by some strange mischance, a mentally retarded child is born of healthy, normal parents.

The reasons for this are too abstruse to deal with here. What can be dealt with is the plight of the suffering, heart-broken and sometimes guilt-ridden parents and what they should do with the child. All they can give it is love. And, while love is an essential ingredient, love alone is not enough. The child should be turned over to experts on the education and up-bringing of retarded children.

Experienced teachers of retarded children such as Mr. and Mrs. Knight literally have done wonders with them; have brought them to their fullest potential through hard-gained knowledge of the child's problems, plus the objective attitude of constant teachings, attention and compassion. Handsome, athletic, slightly more than quinquagenarian Lee Knight, who looks to be in his middle 30's, laid it on the line.

"This isn't a bleeding-hearts proposition. That attitude would be fatal to teaching. This is a well-thought-out academic attempt to reach the child's mind; to find the areas where he's bright and the places where his lack of comprehension exists. We give the children love because we genuinely love them. It's impossible not to love them.

"They live with us in our 3-floor home-school — we can accommodate 24 — and they range in age from 4 to the 20's. They come from as far away as Venezuela and as nearby as Keeseville, N. Y. They usually come recommended from Montreal, New York or some other medical Center. My wife and I are there all the time, participating personally in the daily program and maintaining the atmosphere of a family. Each child is allowed to set his or her own pace. The varying ages complete the effect of a normal family life. The constructive role of competition is used and every child is enabled to compete successfully at that level without strain or pressure.

"You have to teach some of them what is up and what is down; what is under and what is over; what the difference is between first, second and third. When a child shows himself ready for it, he is given responsibility in keeping with his ability. And his joy and pride in completing his task is really something to behold."

Lee Knight was born in Oswego, N. Y. a little over 50 years ago. His younger wife, the former Evelyn Walton, is a Lake Placid girl, a N. Y. state Certified Teacher and graduate of Russel Sage, Troy N. Y. She is tall, slender, smiling, active and has the classic features of a Grecian Goddess. And, when she takes them off her wristwatch long enough, you look into the loveliest green-grey eyes you ever saw in your life. Both are grads of N. Y. State Teachers College. They were married in 1932, have 2 adopted children, Lee, Jr. 17, a folk-singer, guitarist and lay preacher who is going to be a Methodist minister. And Glenda, 16, who is going into special education eventually so as to teach retarded children herself one day. The Algonquin School was started by Mrs. Alice Worden in 1935, and the Knights took it over in '41.

"President Kennedy's program for retarded children will undoubtedly be of enormous help" said Mrs. Knight, after a glance at her wrist-watch. "When a baby is born today, the doctors can make special tests to detect incipient retardation. Sometimes, in a matter of weeks, they can cure this condition permanently. The future outlook is optimistic — but, in the meantime, we have our own brood to take care of, and, if you will please excuse me, I'll get on with it, and leave Lee here to fill you in on the details." And off she went.

The "details" are lengthy, enough to make another column. The school has an outdoor program in the summer, and it's carefully planned as the winter one. Playing games in the out-of-doors, swimming, hiking, boating and picnics — all carefully supervised, as are the sleds, skis and other play equipment are in the winter. The school is a lovely, old manor house on 2 acres of lawns and pines. The 3-story building has 25 rooms, each furnished to suit the child's age.

A governess lives on each of these floors.

"Quite a few have grown up with us, some having stayed 12 to 15 years. We offer a complete educational program from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. The children are our love, our life and our livelihood, and teaching them to learn and develop is the most rewarding work in the world." said Lee Knight. "And, now, if you will please excuse me I must get back to school. I mustn't keep the children waiting," and Off HE went. That left the reporter to finish his coffee alone with his thoughts. He felt immeasurably lifted in spirit and deeply enriched in heart by having met these two gracious charming and integrated people and learning of their work. He felt and gave into—an unusual desire: To say a silent prayer that they be spared to go on with that work in the sometimes heart-breaking but always inspiring teaching of mentally retarded children.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, March 26, 1976

Fire strikes Algonquin School: Children flee burning school


SARANAC LAKE — Twenty eight youngsters and four supervisors were safely evacuated from the burning Algonquin School this morning before 7 o'clock but the building suffered heavy damage from smoke and water as well as the fire.

Firemen from the Saranac Lake Fire Department were able to contain the fire within the north end of the three story wooden structure.

Police who were at the scene said that the youngest were out on the frozen lawn and that they wakened Marie Fogarty at the Algonquin Bar and Restaurant across the street and she opened her dining room to the boys and girls who were wearing only their night clothes.

The firemen were able to get at the interior from roofs and ladders in both front and rear, but it appeared that extensive damage would prohibit the use of the building for some time.

The students at the school for the retarded were taken to Sunmount State Developmental Center in Tupper Lake where the authorities were more than ready to take them in the emergency.

It was reported that the medical and other records at the school were saved but that the children lost their clothing. A call for clothing was aired over Radio Station WNBZ during the fire, and the response was immediate.

Later Sue Markiewicz, executive secretary of the local Red Cross chapter, issued an appeal for more items, mainly clothing, including shoes, for large teen age boys. The clothing may be left at the Methodist Church.

Children from the school were comfortable during the fire, and most of them watched it from the front window of the restaurant and bar.

Saranac Lake police said that if Marie hadn't offered the school residents a warm place they probably would have suffered discomfort since they were nearly all barefooted, and the temperatures were below freezing.

The origin of the fire was not immediately determined, according to Fire Chief Donn Garwood. Village manager Gerald Oxford was at the scene coordinating the effort of various departments under his command.

The youngsters were exceptionally well behaved, according to the policemen who first arrived, though the excitement of the early morning fire caused some individual reaction. The supervisors were able to marshall the ranks and get them safely housed across the street.

Glenda and Ray Clayton are co-directors of the school. They started this morning looking for property for more permanent housing for the students.

A fire department spokesman said at press time that 31 men had reported for the fire and that a mutual aid call was not broadcast.

Six trucks were at the scene including the snorkel, and nearly all the hose and ladder equipment was brought into play at one time or another.

Some indication that the fire started in the living room was apparent to the firemen, but the cause remained a mystery.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, March 31, 1976

Algonquin School to move into Pius X temporarily


SARANAC LAKE — The Algonquin School children, displaced by a fire last Friday, will be moving into the back wing of Pius Hall, formerly the Pius X High School, as a temporary measure. The building has been inspected by the state and has passed muster for temporary use.

Glenda Clayton, co-director of the Algonquin School, is very pleased with this arrangement and grateful to North Country Community College, which now rents Pius Hall, for providing the space. It is a particularly good solution, according to Mrs. Clayton, because the children are already familiar with the building. They use the gym once a week for exercise.

Beds from the American Management Association are being moved into the Pius building, and the cafeteria, which is used for the Senior Citizens nutrition program, will be used for meals. According to Mrs. Clayton all the children now lack are some personal items because the community was tremendously responsive to the emergency caused by the fire at the Algonquin School.

Moving into Pius is only a temporary solution and finding a permanent home is going to be much more difficult. The school was operating under the state's "Grandfather Clause" in its other building and therefore, regardless of the amount of damage done, cannot simply move back in.

The "Grandfather Clauses" in various state laws exempt schools currently in operation from various standards. For instance, homes such as the Algonquin School are now required to be in two story buildings. Therefore the school in acquiring a new location must find a two story structure which can readily be remodeled to meet state health and fire regulations. If a proper building cannot be found in the area, the future location of the school may depend upon the size of the insurance check. The insurance adjuster will be arriving later in the week to evaluate the damage.

Many of the students at Algonquin have been together there for as much as seven years and have come to regard the school as their home and the other children as their family. This sense of family is very important to the children which is one of the reasons Mrs. Clayton wants to get the children back together at Pius.

Without the tremendous community support shown them after the fire, life would have been much more difficult for the residents. Many of the children come from out of state, and it would have been virtually impossible to return them to their homes. Many of the homes are not equipped to take [care] of the children which is one of the reasons they are at The Algonquin School. With the immediate shelter at Sunmount Developmental Center at Tupper Lake, and the temporary quarters at Pius, they can all be together until a long range solution is found

Whether or not the burned Algonquin school can be restored to use is not clear at this time. The future site of the school depends in large measure on how much money the insurance company pays for the damage done to the school. The burned portion would have to be torn down and anything new built to replace it would have to meet state standards.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, May 13, 1976

School for retarded to close on Aug. 1

SARANAC LAKE — The Algonquin School for retarded children, formerly located on the LaPan Highway, will officially close on Aug. 1. The school building was burned in a fire early on the morning of March 26.

After the fire, the 29 students were transported to the Sunmount State School in Tupper Lake for temporary lodging and care and are now housed in Pius Center.

Glenda Clayton, director, said this morning that between now and August she and her husband, Ray, will be working on finding other schools for the students. To date 15 have been placed, many in a brand new school downstate. She does not anticipate that any will return to their families.

The grounds of the school, was established in 1935 by Mrs. Clayton's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lee Knight, are up for sale.

The Claytons are planning to move south. Mrs. Clayton will seek a position in special education and her husband will go into business, she says.