Central Hotel, early 1900s, decorated for Winter Carnival
01the columns are of ice. Ayer's Emporium is just beyond the hotel, 
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, November 17, 2007
Central House Fire on Berkeley Hill, 1925. 
Historic Saranac Lake Collection, 2022.17.8.75. Gift of the Duquette/Rice Family.
Address: burned in 1927, replaced by Altman's

Old Address: 16-14 Broadway

Year built: before 1899 (enlarged by 1903)

The Central House, or Central Hotel, was a hotel of 25 rooms at 6 Broadway that was owned by William Hennessey. It was converted to apartments in 1922. 1 It burned to the ground in 1927, and was replaced by Altman's, which sold ladies' fashions. The fire also destroyed Crippen's store, Kay's Toggery, the Broadway Cafeteria, the chapter rooms of the Disabled American War Veterans of the World War, a shoe repair shop, the United Cigar Store and Charlie Wing's Laundry.

It was the site of Mary Elizabeth Beauty Shoppe from 1936 to 1948.

The strip of photos at right, from an album page donated to Historic Saranac Lake by Catherine Moore of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, dated this fire as occurring on January 14, 1925.

Chateaugay Record, January 16, 1925

Looking north on Broadway, probably from the roof top of the Coulter Block.  The Mulflur building is at left.
Courtesy of Catherine Moore, Adirondack Daily Enterprise
Another Big Fire At Saranac Lake

Saranac Lake. Jan, 15 — Two three-story business blocks were almost totally destroyed, three persons, two men and a woman, were rescued by firemen and the entire business section of the town, was threatened in a $250,000 fire which swept this town yesterday.

With the help of the Lake Placid Fire Department, working against a stiff wind, the blaze was brought practically under control by 2:30, although streams were being played on the embers until late last night.

Looking north on Broadway.
Courtesy of Catherine Moore, Adirondack Daily Enterprise
The buildings burned are Central House Block, and the Crippen Block, both of which were almost totally destroyed, the Munn Building, the Williams Building, the Feinberg Building, 18 Broadway and the Hennesay Block, at 10 Broadway.

The blaze, said to have started from defective wiring on the top floor of the Central House, 10 Broadway, shortly after 11 o'clock spread rapidly, and by the time the local fire department arrived on the scene, at 11:15 a. m., the top floors of the block were a roaring inferno.

Two men and a woman whose names could not be ascertained, were carried out on ladders from their rooms in the top floor of the Central Block.

Looking south on Broadway.  The Central House is at right.
Courtesy of Catherine Moore, Adirondack Daily Enterprise
The occupants of the first floor of the block, all of whom suffered heavy losses from fire and water, are Kay's Toggery Shop; Broadway Cafeteria; Charlie Wing's laundry, a shoe repair shop, and the offices of Warren Ward, local agent for the United Cigar Stores Company. The rooms of Saranac Lake Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans, on an upper floor, also were badly gutted by the blaze.

Fanned by a strong wind, the blaze in less than an hour spread to the Crippen Block, at 14 Broadway, practically wiping out the block, one of the oldest buildings of the village.

The Crippen Department Store, owned by H. M. Crippen, formerly of Ausable Forks, and the chapter rooms of Temple Emmanuel, a local Hebrew congregation, suffered heavy damage from fire and water.

The biggest loss in the Feinberg Building, at 18 Broadway, resulted, oddly enough, from water. Robin's restaurant, on the first floor and the chapter rooms of Temple Emmanuel, a local Hebrew Congregation, suffered heavily.

Looking south on Broadway.
Courtesy of Catherine Moore, Adirondack Daily Enterprise
Electric light and power service furnished by the Paul Smith Electric Company, was cut off for a few hours last evening as the result of the fire. One man, whose name could not be learned, though he is known to be a roomer in an upper floor of the Hennessy Block, 10 Broadway, saved his life, perhaps, when he stretched over a gap of four feet from one window to another to a room the blaze had not at that time reached. The blaze is the second in less than a month, the Berkley Hotel, one of the town's landmarks, directly opposite the scene of today's fire, having burned on New Year Day with heavy damage.

Adirondack Record-Elizabethtown Post, January 22, 1925


Several Stores Burned and Drenched—Three Have Narrow Escapes

Courtesy of Catherine Moore, Adirondack Daily EnterpriseThe fifth of a series of fires which have been ravaging Saranac Lake within a comparatively short time, proved to be the most disastrous in the history of the village. The blaze was discovered shortly before noon on Wednesday in the basement of the old Central House, the property of William Hennessey, who it spending the winter in Florida. The started in the basement and most of the fire damage was done below the second floor.  In all three wooden buildings were destroyed and it is estimated that the damage from fire and water will fall not far be low $250,000.

Courtesy of Catherine Moore, Adirondack Daily EnterpriseBelow the hill from the Central House, a building owned by I. Feinberg escaped damage by fire, but the water damage was enormous. It is believed that the sprinkler system in this building was of great assistance in checking the flames. The building next to the Central House in which Crippen's store was located, was equipped with a sprinkler system and this helped to bar the flames on that side. Miller's Pharmacy and the Williams building in which it is located, were threatened, but escaped with comparatively slight damage.

Hennessey's Central House, after the 1925 fire. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, November 17, 2007 Destroyed or completely flooded were the Crippen store, two floors of which were occupied by Harry M. Crippen as a dry goods store, the Central House in which were located Kay's Toggery Shop, men's apparel store, owned by H. D. Kabatchnick; United Cigar Store, Warren Ward, manager; Broadway Cafeteria, H. I. Kalkof, proprietor, upper basement; My Shoe Shop, upper basement. In the lower basement was the kitchen of the Pontiac Confectionery Store, Chinese laundry and Hennessey's pool room.

The thoroughly water soaked Feinberg building which stands between the destroyed Central House and the Munn jewelry store, housed Robbin's lunch and restaurant, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Max Robbin, and on the second floor were located Temple Emanu-El and the offices of the Ampersand Realty Company. The quarters of the disabled veterans also suffered much damage.

The fire fighters battled the flames in zero weather with the water practically freezing as it fell upon the buildings. At the time of the sounding of the alarm the Saranac Lake truck was in a garage being repaired and a little time was lost in this manner. The Lake Placid department, which had been called, responded in record time and did valiant work in checking the spread of the flames. Shortly after the fire had been checked at the front of the Crippen building, the water in the mains gave out and the Lake Placid department went to the bridge and pumped water from the river with the Saranac Lake department.

Fortunately no one was injured, but three persons, two men and a woman, had a narrow escape. They had to be taken from the Central House down ladders. One of these, a man named Ayling, works in a lunch cart at night He was sound asleep in his room on the top floor when the alarm was turned in. He was finally awakened by the smoke and clothed only in his underwear fought his way to the open. This man lost all his belongings in the Berkeley House fire January 1st.

The Sanborn map showing the ruins of the fire. 
The map is dated December, 1924, but clearly was later revised.
Malone Palladium, April 2, 1903

Court Proceedings

Four of the indictments were for violation of the excise law; William Hennesey, proprietor of the Central House at Saranac Lake, was indicted for illegally giving away liquor on Sunday. He pleaded not guilty and furnished bail to the amount of $1,000. The case was sent to the county court. Thomas Butler and John Divine, clerks in the Central House at Saranac Lake, were each indicted for illegally trafficking in liquors. They are charged with selling on Sunday in violation of the excise law. Both of the defendants pleaded not guilty and their cases sent over to the county court. Bail was fixed at $1,000 which they furnished.




1. Lake Placid News, July 14, 1922