The Balsam Shop, 2012 Birk's (undated) Courtesy of the Penobscot Maritime Museum (Prints available) There are murals throughout the interior, including this image of Diana the Huntress. The Balsam Shop, 2012 Lake Placid News, July 21, 1939 Plattsburgh Daily Republican, July 9, 1949 Plattsburgh Daily Republican, June 20, 1941 Birk's Swiss Chalet. Courtesy of Mary Hotaling Birk's ad, 1954 Meet the Town Address: New York Route 3

Old Address: Bloomingdale Road

Other names: The Balsam Shop

Year built: 1923

Birk's Swiss Chalet was operated by Manhattan restauranteur Frank Birk starting in 1923; Birk had come to Saranac Lake in 1911 for the "cure" and opened the Ritz restaurant on Ampersand Bay.

After moving his operation to the Swiss Chalet south of Bloomingdale, he bought the adjoining property and built a house there, completed in 1927, which he operated as the Villa St. Armand. With his wife, Louise, he ran the Swiss Chalet until 1943, when the shortage of food and gasoline caused by World War II necessitated the closing of the Chalet. The Chalet had the reputation for excellent service and some of the finest dining in the North Country. Jazz pianist Marian McPartland was among the many fine musicians who performed there. 1 After the war, the Chalet was sold due to Frank Birk's poor health; he died in 1952. His wife stayed on until in the house until the year before her death in 1979. The house was sold in 1978. They are both buried in St. Paul's cemetery in Bloomingdale.

In 1949, it reopened as the Swiss Chalet, operated by Mrs. Mary Coldiron. In 1954 it was operated by Mr. and Mrs. Peter Loehrer.

Sources • News clippings • A 1993 letter to Historic Saranac Lake from Harold F. Birk, at the time of the third annual TB reunion.


Malone Farmer, August 25th, 1926

Prohibition agents of the Malone office raided two resorts near Bloomingdale over the week-end, the Onondaga Inn and Rivermount Inn. At the former six quarts of whiskey, 10 quarts of wine and 64 bottles of ale were seized. At the latter 12 cases of beer, seven pints of whiskey and a pint of wine were found and confiscated. Martin Jacobson and Frank Birk, respective proprietors, were directed to appear before U. S. Commissioner Prime at Lake Placid Thursday.


Lake Placid News, June 14, 1935

Swiss Chalet Signs N.B.C. Band for Season

The Swiss Chalet, owned and managed by Frank Birk, will celebrate their formal opening a week from tomorrow night, June 22. This unique club, situated about half way between Bloomingdale and Saranac Lake, has reclaimed the atmosphere of Swissland as their entertainment motif.

Mr. Birk has announced that he has secured the services of a seven-piece National Broadcasting Orchestra from Philadelphia under the direction of Al Willie, Jr. Owens Jones, of New York will be master of ceremonies with the Swiss Boys as vocalists.

It is expected this formal opening will be a gala occasion, Mr. Birk now completing plans to make it one long to be remembered.

In the meantime the Swiss Chalet is offering dancing nightly by the Sportsman's Orchestra.

The kitchen is supervised by a chef specializing in Swiss prepared food. This week-end a special shore dinner, with a wide choice of sea-food, will be served daily.


Adirondack Daily Enterprise, February 4, 1975

Guild News June 1946 — The Swiss Chalet on the Bloomingdale Road, formerly operated by Frank Birk and closed for some years, has been reopened by Rosita Rios and Alfredo Gonzalez.

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Footnotes

1. Tissot, Caperton, History between the lines : women's lives and Saranac Lake customs, Jay, New York : Graphics North, 2007, p. 46. ISBN 978-0-9643542-9-4.