Other names: The Clothes Line, Goody Goody's, Miss Mary McCarthy Dressmaker
Other information: Mary Hill was the manager of Altmans for forty years.
Irving Altman was born in New York City in 1900. By 1922, he was running his own ladies’ wear store in Manhattan and coming down with tuberculosis. He was told, "You want to get well? Go to Saranac Lake for six weeks." He followed this advice and took up the curing regimen at Evergreen Lodge off Catherine Street. One of the best of the private sanatoria, it was also one of the most expensive: "$45 a week — a fortune!"
While at Evergreen, Irving Altman met people who had been there not six weeks but a year — or two years: "forever". For him, getting well in six weeks turned out to mean six months at Evergreen and an additional year at Trudeau Sanatorium. By then, he felt healthy enough to open a store in Saranac Lake, which he did at 50 Main Street in Little Joe's building. The place was called, simply, Altman's. In 1925, he decided it was time to go back to the city. "I lasted three weeks," he said. He suffered a relapse and came back north.
There is a process called pneumothorax in which air is injected into the chest cavity to put pressure upon an infected lung, thus restricting its movement and thereby forcing it to rest — rest being an essential part of curing.
So, Mr. Altman went back to his store at 50 Main Street and "took pneumo" instead of going to a sanatorium.
In the winter of 1926-27 the Central Hotel was destroyed by fire. This building was built by William Hennessy in the 1890s and was immediately north of the Ayer Block which he also owned for some time. In the summer of 1928, Irving Altman and Morris Edelberg, brother of furrier Sam Edelberg whose store he managed across the street, purchased the hotel property from Hennessy's widow, Emma. (For more on Sam Edelberg, see the discussion of Hogan Block.)
In September, 1931, Altman bought Edelberg’s interest in the property, and, in 1932, he built a single story building on the 57 x 70 foot lot. The building had four narrow storefronts. He moved his ladies' apparel store into one and leased the others to a shoe shop, a beauty salon, and an electric appliance store. In the basement was Sam Sherman's billiard room. As Altman's business grew, he would displace the adjoining tenant when their lease ran out and expand into its space — knocking an archway out of the intervening wall to allow movement from space to space without the need of going outside. By 1938 Altman's occupied the entire ground floor (Sam Sherman was still downstairs), and the Altman’s slogan became "Four doors to four stores of fine feminine fashion".
The selection of wares and the charm of its proprietor made Altman’s a favorite for quality conscious women for nearly three generations.
In October, 1980, Irving Altman retired. He sold the building and the business to Robert Rice and William Reuben of G. Carver Rice, Inc., owners of Rice Furniture. They remodeled the store, eliminating two doors and changing the exterior in such a way as to make it look both newer and older than it had before.
Original text by Philip L. Gallos, 1983
From a fragment of newspaper, likely an Adirondack Enterprise of Summer 1931, found in the Village Water Department building during renovations, 2012.
FINISH LAYING CONCRETE BASE OF NEW BLOCK
Work on the foundation of the new block being erected by Morris Edelberg and Irving Altman on the long vacant site boarded-off directly opposite the Pontiac theater is rapidly progressing, and the base should be completed today, according to William Winderl, contractor in charge of this stage of construction.
Onlookers who attempted to follow the work through crevices in the high fence observed a beehive of activity with little change apparent from day to day. The reason for this delay, as advanced by the contractor, was that a sewer line lay directly under the rear wall as first planned, and necessitated moving the wall itself nearly four feet.
The completed block, for which the firm of Scopes and Feustmann, Saranac Lake architects designed the plans, will contain three stores, rising one story above the street level, with provision made in the construction of the foundation for later addition of other floors.
It will be chiefly a brick and tile structure, with a front of genuine Vermont Verde antique marble, topped at intervals with ornamental urns. The use of the most modern materials and construction methods will make it as nearly fireproof as a building can be. #
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, April 4, 1952
ALTMAN PLANS GALA OPENING
Altman's newly completed shop, the only one of its kind in the North Country, will be officially opened at 1:30 p. m. tomorrow, with Mayor Alton B. Anderson cutting the ribbon at the center door of the four-shop building.
And the occasion marks the 27th year of Irving B. Altman as a Saranac Lake merchant.
Opening ceremonies will be broadcast over WNBZ and will include greetings from the stations owner, Jacques De Mattos; Thomas Stainback, representing the Chamber of Commerce and Harry B. Nason, editor of The Daily Enterprise.
In addition, many prominent citizens of the Village will be interviewed over the roving microphone. There will be special prizes for these people as well as souvenirs for everyone.
Store personnel some of whom have been with the Altman organization 15 to 20 years, will present informal modeling of new Spring and Summer fashions.
The present location is a far cry from the original Altman store Opened at 50 Main street in 1925. The Broadway shop has a 60-foot frontage with seven newly decorated display windows.
Exclusive features include one shop devoted entirely to accessories; another completely stocked with merchandise for Teens and Tweens and a Misses Shop. Part of the expansion includes one shop for smart styles in proportioned sizes.
Interiors are appealingly finished in soft pastel tones and sandalwood trim. Windows feature novel sandalwood treatments of shadow boxes and a welcoming door trimmed with burnished antique copper.
There are nine fitting rooms and a complete alteration department.
So, make it a date to be a part of one of the Village's outstanding events.