Hotel St. Regis. Clearly the same photograph as the one at left, hand-tinted and retouched to remove the wires and light. Hotel St. Regis, Early 1900s. Henry P. Leis Pianos is visible at left. Address: burned on January 14, 1964

Old Address: 75 Broadway

Year built: 1908

Richard H. JewtrawThe Hotel St. Regis was at the southeast corner of Broadway and Bloomingdale Avenue, opposite the Arlington Hotel. Later, the Alpine Hotel would be built across Broadway from the Arlington. It originally had thirty-seven rooms, and a dining room that seated 28; it was later enlarged to 65 rooms, with 40 baths. 1 It was Saranac Lake's first brick hotel. It burned to the ground in a spectacular 1964 fire.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, January 14, 1964

St. Regis Hotel Is Destroyed by Fire; Not Known If Anyone Perished in Blaze


At 9:45 this morning, the fire at the Hotel St. Regis was under control and the adjoining buildings bad been saved by combined efforts of four fire departments.

The hotel itself was totally demolished and there was no positive report by early this afternoon as to whether anyone had perished in the fire.

 Began at 8:10

The drama began between 8:10 and 8:15 this morning when the fire was first reported in the basement. Within forty minutes, the Saranac Lake Fire Department had evacuated everyone they could find. Some were brought down by ladder and some jumped into nets. They were rushed to the Saranac Lake General Hospital by rescue truck, ambulance, police car, and private vehicles.

Fourteen Treated

Fourteen persons were taken to the Saranac Lake General Hospital this morning. Five were admitted, seven were transferred to the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital, and two were treated and sent home. All were described as in good or fair condition.

The two worst injuries were possibly fractured vertabrae. This amounts to a not very serious broken back.

Jumped in Nets

The fractures apparently occurred when they jumped into the fire nets which were not held high enough, and they hit the roof where the firemen were standing.

Those with the back injuries were Charles Jaquis, 21, Saranac Lake and Joseph Lalond, 55. The three others admitted to the hospital with minor bruises, burns and shock were Gabrielle Bergeron, 25, and her daughter, Ruth Ann Bergeron, 4; and Lucille Rannie. 46. The Bergerons are from Keeseville. Mrs. Rannie is the wife of Arthur Ranrrie of Montreal.

At Will Rogers

Those admitted to the Will Rogers for smoke inhalation and described as in fair condition were: Cornelia Juranick, George Utting, Horace and Lurette Walsh, Percy Richardson, and Loretta Sanfasin, all of Saranac Lake. Grant Field, whose address was unknown this morning, was also admitted for smoke inhalation. It is expected they will be released tomorrow.

The, two treated and discharged to their homes were Robert Byrne of Loon Lake and Donald Hazelton of Saratoga Springs.

Others left homeless by the fire had appeared at the Red Cross headquarters in the Harrietstown Town Hall; the Hotel Saranac was quickly set up as emergency disaster headquarters by the Red Cross.

The organization is looking for clothing for the fire victims and any clean clothing donated should be taken to the office in the town hall.

A coffee line was also set up by Mary Gonyea in the P&G Home Center across from the gutted hotel.

The Red Cross was trying to compile a list of those who were in the hotel.

Gil Jones, owner of the hotel, was in the building himself when the fire started. He sought refuge from the cold in Drutz's Market across the street. A little before nine this morning, he said that by his tabulation, everyone was out of the building.

Caught on the Ledge

The scene was one of drama this morning. Judge George Utting stood quietly in a window with a handkerchief over his face and waited for the firemen to come to his rescue. Percy Richardson the piano player, and another unidentified occupant were caught on the top ledge. One man had on no shirt and his arm was cut, yet he hung to the window sill in the subzero temperatures until firemen could reach him.

Showed Courage

Jack Sweeney was one of the volunteer firemen who showed outstanding courage. He climbed his ladder through the asphyxiating smoke on the Broadway-Bloomingdale Avenue corner at least three times to bring people from a window. One woman got caught with her legs through a rung in the ladder and had to be extricated before she could be lowered to the street. Other firemen performed similar feats.

Many hotel occupants were wearing only pajamas or whatever they had been able to throw on with the short warning they had. One little girl was described as having "blue feet" from the cold when rescued.

Little water was trained on the fire until 8:45. Prior to that time, the firemen had been concentrating their efforts on removing those in the building.

Aid From Placid

But as soon as the rescue operation was completed, the Saranac Lake firemen, now with the help of the Lake Placid fire department on the way, began to train their hoses on the windows.

At 8:45, for the first time, flames licked out of the ground floor windows. The smoke coming from above was dirty gray, but would then turn black and be followed by a streak of bright orange flame shooting from a window as if from a flame thrower.

Within fifteen minutes, at 9 o'clock, the fire had reached the top floors and looking down from Berkeley Square, one could see the outlines of windows as the flames reached forty and fifty feet into the sky.

Hits Oxford Market

At about this time, the fire traveled to the adjoining Oxford Market. It was quickly put out, but the firemen continued to pour water on the frame structure, as a safety precaution. Ruth Effenbach had returned to the building to get her mother out. She said she had had a difficult time persuading her to come but had finally been successful. Although it was impossible to estimate the  damage to the market this morning, it obviously suffered smoke and water damage.

Hot and Cold

Despite the fact that anyone standing across the street from the fire was in danger of having his eyebrows singed, the adjoining buildings were covered with icicles from the water being sprayed on them.

The heat caused the paint to peel on the Potter Block across Bloomingdale Avenue. The empty Hotel Alpine stood undamaged , with the heat shadows playing across its facade. Smoke was so thick at times, people at the scene had to feel their way along the walls across the street.

Damage to other adjoining buildings could not be definitely ascertained at press time.

The fire was throwing debris high into the air and one piece of flaming material landed on the awning at the Sears-Roebuck store, four doors down the street. The awning caught fire and several spectators stood looking at it, just out of reach while the firemen were busy with the greater blaze. After a minute, however, a fireman trained his hose on the small fire and easily put it out.

At. 9:25, the Broadway side of the hotel caved in. Persons had been evacuated from the P & G. Home Center across the street and firemen in the area scurried for cover. Most of the debris fell back into the hotel framework and no one was injured.

The heat was so great that even the brick seemed to be melting. While it was fortunately a calm day. the heat from the fire made its own heavy winds in the immediate area.

Brought Under Control

By 9:45 this morning, the fire seemed to be under control. The smoke color had changed from a dark gray to an almost pure, steamy white as the water began to cover the flames. The huge cloud continued to rise over the village all morning as the clean-up operation began.

Since the hotel register was apparently lost in the fire, it may prove impossible to determine exactly who was in the building when the fire broke out.

As of this morning, there was not yet any official word as was speculation that it might have started when an oil burner exploded. Neighbors reported hearing an explosion but a man working in the hotel at the time, said he had heard nothing.

$90,000 Cost of Renovation

A year ago the Hotel St. Regis was undergoing a $90,000 renovation designed to restore it to its former standing as the outstanding North Country commercial hotel and to make it attractive to the newer resort and winter sports trade.

The owner, Gilbert J. Jones, started the refurbishing soon after he bought the hotel in May of 1959 from the, late John English. At first he planned minor alterations but, as he said later, one thing led to another and he found himself in the midst  of changes that called practically for the gutting and rebuilding the inside of the hotel. Originally the work was planned for completion in February of 1963 but it was so extensive it continued all this past summer and there may have been some uncompleted details when the fire broke out this morning,

The former 65 rooms and 40 baths were redesigned to make 48 larger rooms, each with private bath and the old wooden beams were replaced with structural steel. A new banquet room housed in an addition next to the old rustic, open beamed tap room was opened Dec. 15, 1962. The addition included space for guests' cars in the basement. The new 40 x 24-foot banquet room had a large open fireplace and had been used by a number of organizations during the past year.

All bedrooms and halls were paneled in walnut and furnished with new pieces. The wall- to-wall carpeting laid throughout the hotel is estimated to have cost $23, 000.

One apartment was made at the rear of the business office on the second floor and had been occupied by the owner. One of the most difficult passes of the renovation was dismantling and rebuilding the old elevator shaft and replacing the old Otis water-powered elevator with a new push-button, electric-powered Otis. Mr. Jones said at the time the new elevator cost $18,000.

The main-floor coffee shop, barber shop, and the lobby used as a waiting room for the Adirondack Trailways Bus passengers were all redecorated.

Except for a fresh coat of cream-colored paint, the outside of the hotel was left looking very much as it had since it was built in 1908. Flower boxes were added to the railing of the porch that ran on the Bloomingdale Avenue and Broadway sides of the building.

The A. P. Designers of Burlington, Vt. designed the interior of the new hotel. The Langra Construction Co. did the work with a number of side contracts being given to Saranac Lake firms such as Frank Ryan, Fobare and Sons, Tyler Co., Gendron Lumber Co., George L. Starks.

The hotel had been built in 1908 by John Morgan as a four-story hotel. In 1917 a fifth floor was added. At that time the hotel included a lobby, dining room, kitchen, writing room, bar, billiard room, barber shop, office and rest rooms. One of its features was a sample room for the many salesmen who came to the North Country to use for the display of their wares.

The hotel was sold to Mr. English and Ed Murnane in the early 1920's. Mr. Murnane died in 1939 and Mr. English continued to run the business with the help of his grandson, Hugh McLaughlin.

Mr. Jones said last year that the Federal Savings and Loan and the Northern New York Trust Co. were helping finance the renovations.


An excerpt from History is lost to fire, demolition and remodeling, by John J. Duquette, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, November 10, 1990

For a great number of years the St. Regis Hotel was a familiar landmark at the corner of Broadway and Bloomingdale avenues. A substantial building of brick and stone it would appear to be impervious to flame. It was built in 1908 by John Morgan as a four-story building, in 1917 the fifth floor was added, a tribute to its successful operation. Among its features were a water-powered elevator, a billiard room, a taproom, a barber shop, a dining room, and a display room for traveling salesmen. For many years Sean Dyer offered secretarial services at his desk. John English purchased the hotel in the 1920s and ran it for the majority of its existence. It changed hands again in 1959 when Gil Jones acquired the hotel and completely renovated it at a cost of some $90,000.

Early in the morning of Jan. 14, 1963, fire broke out and the walls came tumbling down. It was a disastrous conflagration but, fortunately, no lives were lost. Guests were forced to jump from windows into the firemen's nets. According to old-timers it was the worst fire in 40 years. Another historical building was nothing but a heap of charred rubble.

An excerpt from Saranac Lake hotels and the House of Morgan By John J. Duquette in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, December 11, 1993

In 1908 John Morgan purchased property at the comer of Bloomingdale Avenue and Broadway and proceeded to erect a fireproof hotel of brick and stone. He christened the new four-story building the St. Regis Hotel, and was open for business. As it turned out business was so good a fifth floor was added in 1917. The place featured a main lobby, dining room, bar, billiard mom, barber shop, sample room, and a water-powered elevator. During the early 1920s the hotel was sold to John English and Ed Murnane and after Murnane's death in 1939 English continued to operate the hotel with his grandson, Hugh McLaughlin. The hotel changed hands for the-final time in 1959 when it was purchased by Gilbert Jones who spent $90,000 renovating the structure. Five years later, on Jan. 14, 1964, the hotel went up in flames.



Other historic properties



1. "In 1911 Saranac Lake was a hotel town!", Adirondack Daily Enterprise, March 17, 1966