Old Address: 48 Franklin Avenue
Other names: Wilcox Cottage (1911), Black Cottage (1912), Parker Cottage (1928); Bryant Cottage(?) (1932), Alta Vista (1948-1953); DIS. Jordan Cottage (1916)
Year built: Before 1902 Library of Congress photograph
The Alta Vista started as two separate, nearly identical houses built before 1902, that were combined into a single building about 1924. 1 It was owned by H. Stanley Parker and then Camilo Panerai. It closed in the late 1950s, and burned to the ground, November 2, 1960. 2
Camilo Panerai is best remembered as the owner and operator of the exclusive Alta Vista cure cottage on Franklin Avenue. Mr. Panerai was born August 9, 1910 in Havana, Cuba, the son of Camilo and Elvira Panerai. On September 22, 1933, Camilo arrived in Saranac Lake seeking a cure for tuberculosis. He was 23 years old, and a student at the Havana University School of Architectural Engineering. In 1933, he stayed for a brief time at the Gonzalez cure cottage at 144 Main Street. Within a month, the Gonzalez moved to 14 Park Place, and it is unclear how long or where Camilo continued his cure. He returned to Havana to finish his studies and work at the Purdy and Henderson architectural firm in Havana, from 1934 to 1941.
By 1941, Mr. Panerai had returned to Saranac Lake, again in search of his health. This time he cured at the Alta Vista, one of the most exclusive cure cottages in the village. Mr. Panerai met a dietician employed at the Alta Vista named Helene A. Anderson. The couple married and soon took over ownership of the Alta Vista, operating it from 1941 to 1959, when they sold it; it burned to the ground a year later. Interestingly, Tuberculosis Society records list Helen Panerai as not only the owner of the Alta Vista in 1941, but a patient as well. On April 4, 1941, she cured at the Alta Vista for tuberculosis.
The couple lived out their years in Saranac Lake, both living into their eighties. Helen died in 1991 at age 81. Camilo died at age 83 in 1994. At the time of his death he was living at 117 Forest Hill Avenue. Mr. Panerai was a prominent businessman in the community, but he did not actively cultivate connections to visiting Latin Americans, and he did not cater to Latin Americans in particular. Our survey of Latin American patients shows eight having stayed at the Alta Vista, two before his ownership in 1944. The six Latino patients that stayed at the Alta Vista in the forties and early fifties were from all over Latin America — Venezuela, El Salvador and Cuba, and one four and a half year old boy from Colombia.
One resident was Gerald Haxton, the secretary and companion of W. Somerset Maugham. On July 6, 1944, he was examined by Dr. J. Woods Price. He was 52 years old and was staying at 48 Franklin Avenue; his former address was the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York City. He died the same year.
- "Camilo Panerai" (obituary), Adirondack Daily Enterprise, 22 February, 1994.
- Camilo Panerai, TB Card.
- "Helen Panerai" (obituary), Adirondack Daily Enterprise 20 July, 1991.
Unidentified clipping, Armstrong Scrapbook 13, page 39
D. L. McGibbon Dies at Home in Montreal
"During his stay in Saranac Lake many years ago he owned the residential property on Franklin avenue now known as Alta Vista lodge and maintained a most elaborate private ménage. Distinguished personages of the financial and political worlds were frequent visitors at the McGibbon residence."
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, July 28, 1959
Philadelphians Buy The Alta Vista Lodge
Dr. Leonard L. Feldman, physician and surgeon, and Leonard S. Wissow, attorney, both of Philadelphia, are the new owners of Alta Vista Lodge at 48 Franklin Avenue. Final purchase arrangements were made yesterday with Camilo Panerai, former owner. Mr. Panerai will continue on as managing director.
The new owners said they have great faith in the area because they feel it is better suited for recreational developments than any other part of the United States.
Dr. Feldman and Mr. Wissow will bring their families here for a vacation this summer and hope some day to live permanently in Saranac Lake. The Feldmans have three children and the Wissows have two.
The new owners say they have already worked out package deals for bus tours from Saranac Lake surrounding points of interest such as the St. Lawrence Seaway, Montreal and Saratoga. They also said they are planning external renovations at the Alta Vista.
The fine cuisine and service which Mr. and Mrs. Panerai have been noted for will continue, they said. Mr. Panerai owned the 35-room Alta Vista for 16 years, purchasing it from Henry Stanley Parker.
Mr. Wissow has been a member of the bar in Pennsylvania for ten years and Dr. Feldman is director of the Diamond Street Hospital in Philadelphia and has practiced medicine for 10 years.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, November 2, 1960
Alta Vista Lodge Is Destroyed By Fire
Flames of epic proportion signaled the end of one of Saranac Lake's resort hotel buildings this morning as firemen of three villages battled futilely to bring the raging fire under control.
The three-story Alta Vista Lodge at 48 Franklin Avenue was demolished in a matter of two hours. Hampered by a lack of water, Saranac Lake firemen on the scene at 5:20 a.m. were forced to stand by in near blast-furnace heat with a few hoses hardly able to reach the front verandah section which seemed to be the only point where the fire was evident on arrival.
The fire was discovered at 5:12 by "Bud" Smith who resides at the Schreiner Cottage on the opposite side of the street. Smith reported that he first observed flames near the ceiling light fixture on the enclosed porch of the vacant building.
A mutual aid emergency call was sent to other villages and both Lake Placid and Bloomingdale departments responded. The flames were well contained within the building until the roof section erupted in a plume of fire visible for miles around.
The disintegrating unoccupied building sent up a shower of sparks which endangered houses over a wide area and the Hays building at 46 Franklin Avenue was badly scorched on the end section. Firemen poured water on the Hayes residence continually as occupants were forced to flee.
The heat was so intense that the crowds were driven back 100 yards or more to escape its searing intensity. At one point telephone poles near the building caught fire and flames danced in a circular path towards the pole top.
With the arrival of help from other departments and the resurgence of direct water pressure from Lake Flower the firemen were able to move in closer and for awhile it seemed that they might win the battle to save some of the huge, sprawling structure.
The vacant building opposite the Alta Vista caught fire briefly at a cornice but the spurt of flame was quelled immediately.
At one point firemen were endangered when the front portico of the building began to topple, but SLFD Chief Francis Gladd withdrew his men and deployed them to more strategic areas of operation.
Sheds and garages at the rear of the Lodge also were partially destroyed and the helps quarters charred through.
Standing at 8 o'clock this morning was a portion of the end section still in flames, the elevator shaft, chimney and a heap of burning rubble which firemen were spraying on four sides.
The building was originally twin cottages which had been joined together about 1924. The original structures were put up in 1910. H. Stanley Parker conducted a cure cottage there until the 1940s when he sold it to Camillo Panerai. 3
1. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, November 2, 1960
2. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Novemeber 2, 1960
3. This is incorrect: the buildings appear in photographs as early as 1902 and on the 1908 Sanborn map of the area, and the TB Society's disinfection records show two cottage operators prior to Parker.