Prospect House, undated. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, April 25, 1987 The Saranac Inn, originally called Hough's, and then the Prospect House, was a large, luxurious hotel located on a peninsula at the northern end of the Upper Saranac Lake in the town of Santa Clara. It was frequented by US Presidents Grover Cleveland and Chester A. Arthur and New York Governors Charles Evans Hughes and Al Smith. It closed in 1962, and burned to the ground in 1978.

Saranac Inn is also the name of a small hamlet, also called Upper Saranac, that grew up in the vicinity of the Inn, and of the public golf course that was originally part of the Inn. The par 72 Saranac Inn Golf Course was recognized by Golf Digest as one of four U.S. courses that are one hundred years or older that received four and a half stars.


Originally built as Hough's (for Daniel S. Hough) in 1864, and later called the Prospect House, by subsequent owner Ed Derby, it started as a small hotel that accommodated 15 guests. It was gradually enlarged to handle up to 100. In 1886 it was purchased by a group of investors headed by Dr. Samuel B. Ward who renamed it Saranac Inn, and began a program of renovation and construction that brought the capacity to 250 by 1909.  They also bought the surrounding 26,880 acres, including fifty lakes and ponds. The opening of the Mohawk and Malone Railway in 1892 had a major impact on the hotel, as it dramatically reduced travel time from major east coast cities to the Adirondacks.

Saranac Inn between 1890 and 1910.  Detroit Publishing

Saranac Inn, 1912

Women on a putting course beside the main building of the Saranac Inn.
Courtesy of the Adirondack Experience.
In 1916 the hotel was purchased by the owner of the Harrington Hotel in Washington, DC, who completely rebuilt the structure, adding two stories, elevators, and a private bath in each room. It underwent further enlargement in the 1920s, and noted Saranac Lake architect William G. Distin was responsible for much of the design work. At its height, between the enlarged main hotel and the many lakeside cottages and platform tents favored by some guests, it could accommodate a thousand guests.

Post card with an aerial view of Saranac Inn. TCR 302After the Great Depression, the hotel's business dropped sharply, and it changed hands several times. In 1946, it was purchased by a national hotel chain, who brought in large conventions, briefly improving finances. It changed hands again in 1957, but closed in 1962 as unprofitable. Finally, it was bought for $400,000 by auctioneers, who sold the property piecemeal, the golf course, the cottages, the hotel all going to different owners. In the mid-1970s, the hotel was partially dismembered for salvage materials. Finally, on June 17, 1978, a spectacular seven-hour fire destroyed what was left.

The small collection of cottages that grew up around the Inn (the first dozen were built by the Inn owners) still exists, however, as do some of the Great Camps built in the area. World War I, the Great Depression and the Income Tax combined to put an end to the Great Camp era, however; and like the Inn, many of the Great Camps were abandoned and/or lost for unpaid taxes, burned or left to crumble.

Three articles on the Inn's history follow, published in 1987, 1994 and 1978, followed by contemporaneous news accounts from 1883 to 1968.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, April 25, 1987



Upper Saranac Lake's topographical history is quite interesting since, over the years, it has been split three times into two different civil divisions.

Before the Revolutionary War, all of northern New York State was made up of only two counties, Tryon and Charlotte. The north-south boundary line between these two huge counties traversed the entire length of Upper Saranac. When Franklin County was formed in 1808, a map shows the lake was divided between the Townships of Margate and Killarney in the Town of Brandon. These two townships were originally owned and named by the early land baron, William Constable, and Margate plays a major role in our story. The third and final division placed the northern three quarters of the lake in the Town of Santa Clara and the southern quarter in the Town of Harrietstown.

Saranac Inn in a year when Grover Cleveland was a guest, probably in the 1880s.
HSL Collection.
Long recognized as one of the most attractive of Adirondack waters, Upper Saranac Lake has enjoyed a popularity due, in part, to its favorable location. During the 1850s, when boat travel was the only means of wilderness transportation, the nine-mile, north-south configuration of the lake provided a most convenient waterway to all points of the compass. Its many islands and verdant shores offered choice campsites to the early hunter and fisherman. Also, wherever a carry entered the lake, some sort of lodging was soon to follow. As early as 1859, Jesse Corey had built Rustic Lodge at the extreme southern tip of Upper Saranac where the old Indian Carry came overland from the Raquette River and the Fulton Chain. From the east, by way of Bartlett's Carry came boats from the Middle and Lower Saranac lakes, and from the west, over the Sweeney Carry, arrivals from the Tupper Lake region could bed down at the Wawbeek Inn.

The hotel we're concerned with was situated at the northern head of the lake where the "Seven Carries" route ended. To this spot guides brought their parties from the Paul Smiths and St. Regis Lakes area. Here, in 1864, a former Paul Smith's patron by the name of Hough decided to build a hotel of his own. He chose an ideal site on a promontory extending into the lake. It boasted an excellent vista down the water to the distant mountains. Although he was most astute in his site selection, he apparently lacked that rare ability attributed to such men as Paul Smith and others: the necessary shrewdness to operate a remote hotel. The place was simply called Hough's, surviving for nine years of rather rocky operation before failing.One of the original Saranac Inn cottages, on the site of the old hotel. This cottage is known as the Riddle Cottage.

Ed Derby became the next owner. Among other changes, he rechristened his purchase The Prospect House. Living up to the new name, the hotel prospered until Derby's death in 1884. Two years later his widow sold out to a group headed by Dr. Sam Ward of Albany, who had a camp on Markham Point. This transaction proved to be the turning point not only in the destiny of the hotel but for the entire area as well.

Tenting at Saranac Inn, 1909 Started Upper Saranac Association

Ward formed and became the first president of the Upper Saranac Association. It soon purchased all of Township 20's 27,000 acres. This was the township that Constable had previously named Margate. Besides the northern third of Upper Saranac, it included more than 30 remote ponds. The hotel was enlarged and renamed Saranac Inn.

During the ensuing years a garden, a dairy farm and a sawmill were added to the complex. A steam boat ran from the front dock to the other hotels and private camps carrying passengers and the mail. One member of the group was Quincy Riddle whose brother, Daniel, had arrived in Saranac Lake at an earlier date to take the cure. By 1913 [1881] Daniel Wiltshire Riddle had regained his health and [in 1886] was appointed general manager of Saranac Inn; 2 a better choice could not have been made. Riddle was a man of great integrity, sound judgement and managerial ability. Under his guidance the hotel grew in popularity and the association prospered as the wealthy and the famous began to gather at its portals. From Hough's humble beginning Saranac Inn grew into one of the best known Adirondack resorts.

Many of the Inn's early guests decided to purchase land along the lake shore and build their own summer homes. A colony of these so called "Great Camps" soon blossomed on Upper Saranac, but the owners continued to make the Inn the center of their social activities.

Postcard Courtesy of Nora Bouvier."President's Cottage"

Noted in this group was Thomas Blagden, who owned a log cottage adjacent to the hotel. As a guest of Blagden, President Grover Cleveland spent his honeymoon there. The house became known as either the "Honeymoon Cottage" or the "President's Cottage." Blagden later built a larger camp across the bay from the Inn which he named Deerwood. In a fenced area surrounding his camp and extending to the hotel grounds he maintained a sizable herd of deer. A portion of the deer park bordered the highway between Deerwood's driveway and the entrance road to the Inn. Guests and the public could enjoy deer watching.

Another prominent guest and frequent visitor was New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes, who chose to vacation here between 1907 and 1910.

D.W. Riddle died in 1913, and Dr. Ward passed away two years later. Both of these men played a very important role in the hotel's prosperity and in the general development of the entire area. The next major phase in the growth of the Inn took place when the property was purchased by Harrington Mills. Owner of the Harrington Hotel in Washington, D.C., Mills brought considerable management expertise to the resort. Under his administration the plant was enlarged and many attractive features added. Over the years an 18-hole golf course was built, a hydro-electric generating station on Lake Clear's outlet furnished power to the Inn, and a steamboat left the front dock to deliver passengers and mail around the lake. Riding stables and aquatic sports amused guests outdoors while music and dancing combined with a fine menu satisfied indoor appetites. At its zenith, the hotel could accommodate 700 guests with the addition of lakeside cottages and platform tents to house the overflow from the main building. A huge work force found employment on the premises; the payroll brought a welcome boost to the community's economy.

Under Mills, Willard Boyce served as superintendent for 42 years until he retired in September of 1928. Still not quite ready to take life easy, he moved to the Village of Saranac Lake and, with the firm of Boyce and Roberson, furnished the village with coal, wood, and feed products for many more years. After Mills died his son-in-law, Laurence Slaughter, managed the Inn while James Gillmett took over Boyce's old position of superintendent. By now the popularity of the large summer hotels had begun to wane as a more mobile public no longer wished to spend an entire season in one place. Taking this adversity in stride, the Inn concentrated on attracting conventions. The move paid off.

Aerial view of the Inn, 1925. (postcard)
1. Tennis courts, 2. Main hotel building, 3. Laundry room and power plant, 4. Waitresses dormitory, 5. Guide house, 6. General store/ice house buildings, 7. Casino, 8. Water tower, 9. Car barn/stables/church, 10. Garrages and chauffers quarters, 11. Golf course, 12. Flower gardens, 13. Guest cottages, 14. Boat house, 15. Floating boat house, 16. Church of the Ascension
The 18-hole golf course was a big plus during this period, but the physical condition of the aging hotel was beginning to tell. The Mills family sold out to the Kirkeby Chain in 1946, and this group continued in the convention business until 1957. The ownership changed once more when Sharp Hotels, Ltd., gave it a try for the final four years of the Inn's operation. One of the last of the famous old hotels had finally taken count and closed its doors.

An auctioneer from Cortland, Charles Vosburgh, was quick to realize that although the hotel was a lost cause, the property itself held tremendous real estate value. Before any local entrepreneur recognized the opportunity, Vosburgh acquired the entire complex. Starting a series of auctions on Sept. 18, 1962, he proceeded to dispose of the buildings, golf course, and some very choice waterfront lots. The venture proved to be a bonanza.

All of the major characters connected with the Inn are now gone. The main hotel building was being razed when a fire completed the demolition. Deerwood Camp became the Adirondack Music Center in 1941, but after a few years that too passed out of existence and the building was removed. Area activity, however, has not perished.

The golf course is more popular than ever. A new community of camps has blossomed among the subdivided lots. A post office has been established. Apparently the name of Saranac Inn is destined to live for many years to come.

The President's Honeymoon Cottage at Saranac Inn Adirondack Daily Enterprise, October 22, 1994

A look at Cleveland's honeymoon hotel


There was once a time, here in our North Country, when we could never be quite sure whether a president might come knocking at our door. In more recent years, however, the region seems to have suffered a dearth of presidential visits.

In 1890 President Harrison came to our village to dedicate Saranac Lake's new high school and certainly all Adirondackers are familiar with the story of how Teddy Roosevelt was summoned down from the side of Mt. Marcy in 1901 to become president upon McKinley's death. President Cal Coolidge came frequently to Saranac Lake in 1926 while spending the summer at White Pine Camp on Osgood Lake near Paul Smiths. During another summer in 1935, FDR came to dedicate the new Whiteface Mountain Highway, but prior to all of these memorable occasions another president spent his honeymoon at Saranac Inn.

In the national election of 1884 Democrat Grover Cleveland won over GOP's James G. Blaine to become the 22nd president of the United States. A former mayor of Buffalo, as well as governor of New York state, he had campaigned under the banner of "clean government," but during the race the "clean" definition did not apply to the bitter mud slinging tactics practiced by both parties. It had been reported that in his youth Cleveland had sired a child out of wedlock and the GOP pounced on the seeming advantage with great glee by using derisive cartoons and a malicious little ditty that went: "Ma, ma, where's my pa? Going to the White House, ha, ha, ha."

Cleveland faced up to the charges and his honesty in the matter apparently gained support rather than having the opposite effect. If he felt any degree of worry over the accusation, it did not cause any lack of appetite since he maintained his normal weight of 260 pounds! The Cottage owned by Thomas Blagden that preceded the Inn; US President Grover Cleveland used it for his honeymoon in 1886. Photo by Seneca Ray Stoddard, Chapman Museum  

During the summer of 1886 Cleveland was married to Frances Folsom in a wedding that became the first such ceremony to be held in the White House. The bride was a mere 21 years old while the bachelor groom was 49. A friend of Cleveland, Thomas Blagden of Washington, owned a cottage at Saranac Inn which he made available to the couple for their honeymoon vacation. The little log cabin was adjacent to the main hotel. A letter written by a guest at Saranac Inn during that time is worth sharing here in full:

Aug. 25, 1886 My Dear Sister:

How I wish you might take one look at my surroundings tonight as I endeavor to write a few words to you. In a snug little tent about ten feet square, with an awning to form a porch in front, situated in the woods, several hundred feet from the Hotel I am assigned for night quarters.

The floor of my abode is nicely carpeted, the furniture consists of a bed, two stands, two chairs, a cute little stove, looking glass, wash bowl and pitcher, towels, etc. There is also a pair of rubber boots (altogether too small) and an umbrella to go to the House for my meals in case of rain. It's really a charming place to stay. I have fastened the door with a string and feel quite secure. The Hotel is full. I had to choose between this and sleeping on a cot in the parlor after the other guests had retired, so I chose this, probably it will be the only camp meeting I will have this year.

Saranac Inn between 1900 and 1910

My coming to this place was very unexpected. Learned this morning that our man I must see was here, and that the only way for me to see him was to come, so I started from Keeseville at seven o'clock this morning and have ridden ten hours on top of a four-horse tally-ho coach over a plank road most of the way and to say that I am tired doesn't quite express it. The houses on our route were nearly all made of logs, most of the country very rough. The distance is 53 miles, the last four or five of it being through dense woods. It is eight miles from here to another house, in any direction. A few feet from the Hotel is the little log cabin where Grover and Frances are spooning away their vacation, and they come to the Hotel for their meals. I had the pleasure of seeing them this evening. Mrs. Cleveland is very nice looking, indeed, but, I cannot see anything so wonderful handsome as the papers make her out to be. She looks very young to be his wife — think he might better have married her mother. They are friendly to the guests of the house and seem to be enjoying themselves.

These two houses are all that there is here, they both face the lake and have nice grounds around there making it a quiet and very desirable place for rest.

But I must say goodnight and go to bed. Am too tired and sleepy to write more."

The letter is written in longhand on Saranac Inn stationery and a little guess work was necessary here and there to make out the handwriting. It was composed by a Mr. C. M. Fellows and affords an interesting insight to the time and place. The little log cabin mentioned in the letter was, of course, the Blagden cottage. The tent occupied by Fellows was one of several adjacent to the hotel to house the overflow from the main building and in later years were replaced with regular cottages (without any kitchens so that the guests would have to come to the hotel for meals).

Although the hotel is long gone the little log cabin remains and has been christened with separate designations. To the formally correct it is called the "President's Cottage," but to the more romantically inclined it will always be the "Honeymoon Cottage."

Etching of Saranac Inn 1880's, courtesy of Nora Bouvier. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 19, 1978

Inn's demise shows changes


SARANAC INN - The glorious history of the Saranac Inn, and its sad, slow demise mirrors the social changes in American society in the past century.

The heyday of the inn, which employed as many as 400 persons during the height of the season, was a time in America of great social and financial division — when the rich were very rich, and then there were the rest of the people.

With the rise of the middle class and the redistribution of wealth in the United States, such resorts catering to the rich and famous become more and more of an anachronism.

The early days of the Inn are described by Alfred L. Donaldson in his famous A History of the Adirondacks, "this now famous hotel at the north end of Upper Saranac Lake, was originally built by a Mr. Hough, as early as 1864. He was a man of means and social position, who was among the earliest patrons of Paul Smith's, on St. Regis Lake. Mr. Hough always occupied the same suite of rooms, which he had fitted up luxuriously at his own expense. Long after he had ceased to occupy them they were known as the "Hough suite." He gave them up because he suddenly lost most of his money, and was confronted by the necessity of earning a living. It occurred to him — not unnaturally, perhaps — that a hotel in the Adirondacks might be a paying proposition. So he bought land and built one. He ran it for nine years, till 1875, and then failed.

"When Hough was forced out, the hotel passed under the control of Ed Derby, who ran it, much more successfully, until his death in the spring of 1884. After that his widow continued to run it for two seasons, with Edward L. Pearse as manager — the same gentleman who later was for years the popular and well-known manager of the Saranac Club.

Lakeside, from a 1907 postcard

Mrs. Derby sold the Prospect House, in 1886, to Dr. Samuel B. Ward of Albany, and some other gentlemen, who incorporated as "The Upper Saranac Association." At the same time they secured control of the entire township surrounding the hotel — Township 20, Macomb's Purchase, Great Tract I. This contained 26,880 acres, and twenty-five years before had been lumbered over by C. F. Norton.

"They continued to run the hotel as a public house, but changed its named to "Saranac inn." As such it has become one of the most popular and successful hotels in the mountains. It has been enlarged and improved, of course, but the original building has never been torn down. "One of the organizers of The Upper Saranac Association was Quincy Riddle, a lawyer of New York. He had a brother D.W. Riddle who had gone to Saranac Lake for his health several years before. His condition having greatly improved, he was offered the position of manager at the new Saranac Inn. He accepted, and remained with the association, until his death in 1913. During the later years, owing to failing health, his duties were lightened and he was given the title of superintendent. He died at a cottage of his own — "The Gables" — which he had built near the hotel.

From a 1929 postcard, courtesy of Janet Bristol

"Dr. Ward, the first president of the association and an ardent Adirondacker, was an Albany physician of note. He died in 1915. During his life he numbered many distinguished people among his friends and patients, and lured many of them to the inn or its neighborhood. Grover Cleveland spent several summers there, occupying a cottage belonging to Mr. Thomas Blagden, who owns a large estate near the hotel."

During those years President Grover Cleveland's second honeymoon occurred at the hotel and the following letter written from the hotel and made available to The Daily Enterprise yesterday gives a wry look at that occasion through the eyes of a guest writing to her sister on August 23, 1889:

[Here the letter in the article above is quoted.]

In later years the hotel was purchased by Mrs. Evelyn Sharpe and Sharpe Hotels Ltd. In 1958 she spent $300,000 to redecorate the hotel which was part of a chain consisting of the Beverly Wilshire, in Beverly Hills, Calif.; The Stanhope and The Gotham in New York City.

Later the hotel changed hands again and was sold to the Fields Organization, a holding company.

One of the large verandahs overlooking Upper Saranac Lake. A boathouse is visible at right. 1930s In 1961 the massive structures and 3,500 acres of prime resort land, including thousands of feet of frontage on the upper lake, and the entire shoreline of Church Pond, and a large portion of the private land on Hoel and Green Ponds was put on the market.

According to Charles Vosburgh, the Cortland auctioneers who purchased the holdings in 1961 from the Fields organization, the total price at that time was $400,000. He said yesterday that he had paid $100,00 down. "It has turned out to have been a very good investment," said the ailing auctioneer. "Others have not worked out so well."

Vosburgh has a great deal of memorabilia from the hotel, including the old registers which included names of famous wealthy families such as Thaw and Seligman.

Vosburgh sold the inn at auction in 1961 to Ralph H. Bowles of Deland, Fla., for $75,000. It was never reopened and Vosburgh reacquired title in 1962 and resold the Inn in 1963 to Robert Duley of Pittsburgh, whose company, the Ellenburg Creamery, is the owner of record today, according to Santa Clara tax rolls.

During the auctions many parcels of waterfront property were sold for as little as $15 a foot. Today Upper Saranac Lake frontage sells for as high as $200 a foot.

Over the years Vosburgh has sold off much of the land in sub-divided parcels, and, according to the county, records, he himself holds more than 300 mortgages on parcels he has sold.

In addition, Vosburgh, a colorful character, has been involved in numerous public squabbles with purchasers over such matters as rights-of-way and property lines. Vosburgh subdivided all of his property before the Adirondack Park Agency law took effect and therefore was virtually untouched by its restrictions on lot size.

Over the years there have been numerous rumors and allegations by owners of nearby camps that Vosburgh himself was the real owner of the Saranac Inn itself. Those properly owners— fearful of fire — were trying to force the demolition of the inn.

Contemporaneous news accounts:

Essex County Republican, June 21, 1883

E. M. White, of Bloomingdale, is running the steam sawmill at the Prospect House this summer for Mrs. E. R Derby.

New York Times, May 26, 1895

SARANAC INN, Saranac Lake, Franklin County, New-York. L. W. Riddle, Manager; J. Ben Hart, Assistant Manager. Opened about May 15, closes about Oct. 15. Accommodates 200 persons. Board, $2.50 to $5 per day; $17.50 to $35 per week. Ten hours from the Greater New-York. Reached by the Adirondack Division of the New-York Central and Hudson River R. R.

The Inn has been enlarged this year by the addition of a .wing, which will contain a dining room capable of seating 200 persons, and twenty-two sleeping rooms/increasing the capacity of the house to about 200 guests. The old house has been thoroughly repaired and renovated and a new office and sitting room added, and many changes have been made to add to the comfort of its guests. Mr. J. Ben Hart, for six years chief clerk at the Inn, has been appointed assistant manager.

New York Times, June 27, 1897


The Numerous Adirondack Resorts Now Ready to Receive the Summer Visitor.

Saranac inn, at the head of Upper Saranac Lake, will be conducted this season on the same methods as of yore. For a generation this inn has been one of the favorite resorts of sojourner's in the Adirondacks. It remains under the management of D. W. Riddle, with J. Ben Hart as assistant. Old patrons of this place will be interested in learning that the operation of the township reclamation land law will deprive Saranac Inn of a very large slice of its landed estate. The inn is reached by a two-mile stage ride from Saranac Inn Station, and from the convenient steamboat landing near the inn the tourist may board a small steamer and go to the foot of the lake, where are situated the Hotel Wawbeek, Rustic Lodge, Saranac Club, and the Hiawatha House. The Wawbeek, which is one of the largest and best-known hotels in this region, will continue under the management of Uriah Welch, the same as last year. Some minor improvements, were made about the premises this Spring.

Malone Farmer, May 29, 1901

A Saranac Inn dispatch says that the first floor of the annex, in which the company's store has been located for the past few years, has been changed over, making a number of very desirable rooms, and is now used entirely for guests. A new store has been erected north of the hotel, which will meet the requirements of the rapidly increasing business of the Upper Saranac Association. Under the supervision of Road Commissioner Willard Boyce, of the town of Santa Clara, the highway from Saranac Inn to Saranac Inn station, a distance of two and one-quarter miles, is being macadamized. The road will be sixteen feet wide and will be top-dressed with, lime-kilned stone, making it one of the best macadamized roads in the Adirondacks. It is expected that the work will be completed about July 1st.


New York Times, June 8, 1902

Frederick H. Gibbons, Treasurer of the Saranac Inn Association, is completing a new cottage, containing ten rooms. A feature of the cottage is a Scotch fireplace in the living room. It is of brick and is something new for the Adirondacks. The fireplace connects with a great gray stone chimney, which is erected on the southeast side of the cottage.

New York Times,July 6, 1902

The Evolution of the Saranac Inn

Steady Growth of the Resort at Which Grover Cleveland Had a Summer Home.

Special to The New York Times.

Post card illustration of Saranac Inn Waterfront

SARANAC INN, N. Y., July 5.—The development of the resort at Saranac Inn has been interesting.  The original building was a log affair now incorporated in the cabin of Thomas Blagden of Washington, who resides throughout the Summer and late Into the Autumn near Saranac Inn. When the people found the old log cabin no longer adequate for their increasing numbers, it was removed to one side and occupied for several seasons by Grover Cleveland, who was at that time President of the United States. Succeeding the log structure was a modest frame building which has been enlarged from time to time until now it slightly resembles a butterfly because of its many wings. Now it is proposed to add another wing to accommodate the many persons who desire to come here for the Summer, and this new edition will be constructed during next Autumn and Winter. The annex will not seriously affect the present form of the inn, which isconsidered very homelike and pleasant by a great many people who have been coming here regularly for many years.

The steamer Saranac began its regular trips down the lake on July 1. Saranac Inn, which is the Post Office as well as the hotel and supply store for the Upper Saranac Lake, arranges the mail for the campers along the lake, and it is delivered from the Saranac. There are three other Post Offices in this locality, one at Wawbeek Lodge, one at Bartlett Carry, and the other at Axton, which is the home of the Cornell Forestry School.

In speaking of post offices it might be well to call attention to the great confusion of Saranacs in the Adirondacks. There are three post offices and express offices all having the name of Saranac connected with, them, but as each is many miles distant from the other there is much delay and loss arising from unfamiliarity with these places. Saranac Inn is in Franklin County, on the northern end of the Upper Saranac Lake. The hotel and offices are two miles from Saranac Inn station on the Adirondack division of the New York Central Railroad. Saranac Lake, on Lake Flower and the Saranac River, is a village called the metropolis of the Adirondacks. The village of Saranac is reached via the Chateaugay Railroad, and a drive of a few miles into the mountains from Cadyville. Saranac Junction is now called Lake Clear Junction, and in this manner some confusion will he avoided.

The Saranac at Saranac Inn, c. 1909, Detroit Publishing Company

New York Times, August 21, 1904


Special to The New York Times.

SARANAC INN. N. Y. Aug. 20.—The feature of the week at Saranac Inn was the cakewalk which took place Tuesday evening, the proceed of which were devoted to the fund for the benefit of the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium. The various numbers and parts of the entertainment were contributed by the visitors to the Inn, and it was a very successful affair.

New York Times, July 12, 1908


Easiest Thing in the World to Get a Ducking, if You Are Not Careful.

Special to The New York Times.

SARANAC INN, N. Y., July 11—The Adirondack guide boat, a craft especially adapted to the Adirondack lakes and streams, is a cranky boat and soon instills the mind of the unwary with a wholesome respect for itself. In the hands of an experienced oarsman it rides the water gracefully and easily, but to the beginner it is often for a time full of terrors, for any attempt at acrobatic feats usually result in a good ducking before the unfortunate has had time to realize what is happening.

Miss B. J. Carwell of New York, who is spending the season at the Inn, was the victim of an unfortunate upset in front of the Casino. While attempting to leave the dock the young woman made a false move and in an instant was plunged into the water. Mr. Searle, who happened to be near, came to the rescue and assisted her from the perilous position. Miss Carwell, however, was undaunted and has since proved that the accident was not due to inexperience, for she is one of the best and most enthusiastic oarswomen at the Inn.

William L. Rich, Jr., of New York has arrived at the Inn and is taking his friends on pleasure trips in his Buick motorcar. Mr. Rich has launched a new three horse power motor canoe this season, and also has a yacht with which he will contest in the Upper Saranac Lake Yacht Club events.

Commodore S. M. Colgate of the club has arrived and is daily going over the race course in his yacht.

Bass fishing has been improving rapidly in the Upper Saranac Lake, and many of the fishermen at the inn are devoting their attention to this fascinating sport. The largest bass taken as yet this season was that by E. J. Ferber and weighed 2 1/2 pounds.  Gov. Charles E. Hughes is visit-[…] have joined the members of their family at Saranac Inn for the season.

Miles Farrow, musical director of St. Paul's Choir School of Baltimore, has taken a tent at the Inn.

Mrs. John Philip Sousa and Miss Helen Sousa have arrived at the Ward camp near Saranac Inn, which they will occupy for the Summer. Hamilton Abert of New York is a guest at the Sousa camp.

Alexander E. Blackmar, Justice of the [New York] Supreme Court, accompanied by Mrs. Blackmar, Miss Beatrice L. Marx, and A. E. Blackmar, Jr., visited the Inn en route to the Rustic Lodge on Upper Saranac Lake.

Mrs. Frederick H. Stevens of Buffalo has arrived, and Mrs. Harry M. Dunn. Miss Dunn, and D. W. Dunn are at Camp Sunrise.

Dr. J. P. Munn, accompanied by James Buell Munn, arrived and Joined Mrs. Munn and Miss Munn, who have a cottage.

New York Times, August 31, 1913
Courtesy of Yvonne Wall

The Rev. and Mrs. L. W. Richardson, Miss Richardson, and L. W. Richardson. Jr., of Albany are spending the season here at the Inn, where the Rev. Mr. Richardson is acting pastor at the Summer chapel.

Malone Farmer, October 14, 1914

Eldredge & Mason are advertising a big auction at their store on Saturday, having purchased the entire livery equipment of the Saranac Inn, which has been acknowledged to be the best equipped livery in the Adirondacks. All will be disposed of at public sale: The property embraces 20 horses, 25 wagons and carriages, 20 sets of harness and other articles going with a livery.

New York Sun, August 25, 1918

Mr. and Mrs. W. Averell Harriman, who have taken a cottage at Saranac Inn for the remainder of the season, are entertaining the mother of Mr. Harriman, Mrs. E. Henry Harriman, who has accepted an invitation to serve on the New York War Camp Community Service Finance Committee. While here she has called at the camps of a number of friends who are spending the summer in the mountains.

A view of the waterfront, c. 1955
Undated post card, courtesy of Barbara Stevens
February 16, 1940. Engine K-11e # 4555 passing southbound through Saranac Inn after a recent snowfall
F. Ray McKnight photo, courtesy of Tim Mayers
Lake Placid News, August 16, 1946


Famous Summer Resort Is Sold to Nationally Known Hotel Operator

Sale of Saranac Inn, famous summer resort center, now entertaining the greatest colony of guests in its history, was announced Monday by Laurence A. Slaughter, president of the Upper Saranac Company.

In his communication to members of the summer colony Mr. Slaughter stated: "At a meeting of the stokholders of Upper Saranac Company, Inc., held Monday, an agreement was signed under which on Dec. 1, 1946, A. S. Kirkely, Frederick E. Altemus and their associates will take title to Sararac Inn. Until Dec. 1 the hotel will be under its present management."

Frederick Altemus of Washington, named is an associate of the group of new owners of Saranac Inn, is here with his family passing the summer at Lady Tree Lodge, their summer home on the shore of the Upper Saranac Lake. He confirmed Mr. Slaughter's statement and added that Mr. Kirkeby, controlling spirit in the new management who has been his guest for several days, is expected back from New York shortly. Until then he preferred to make no statement as to future operation of the inn other than to assert that policies of the late Harrington Mills, founder of the New Saranac Inn, will be followed closely in the future as at present. Mr. Altemus and Mr. Slaughter are sons-in-law of the late Mr. Mills, Mrs. Altemus being the former Miss Florence Mills and Mrs. Slaughter the former Miss Dorothy Mills.

Mr. Kirkeby is a nationally known hotel owner, operator of Hampshire House, the Sherry Netherland and Warwick hotels in New York City, the National, Havana; Blackstone, Chicago and Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills, Calif. Also he is the former owner-operator of the Bellaire at Bellaire, Fla.

To what extent the various interests will be presented in the new control of Saranac Inn has not been determined. The entire estate, including 2,000 acres, has shore frontages on Upper Saranac Lake, one of the largest in the Adirondacks, and embraces many of the contributing waterways. With its numerous cottages and bungalows Saranac Inn accommodates nearly 600 guests.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, July 24, 1959
On April 7, 1958, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise published a letter to the editor from Dan McMasters, who by then was working for the Los Angeles Examiner. The Enterprise reprinted their own front page on April 15, 2006. In part the letter read: "In 1933 and 1934 I worked in the summer as a chore boy at the McAlpine camp on the slough between Upper St. Regis and Spitfire lakes. . . The next four years I spent in college and worked summertimes at Saranac Inn, on the newsstand. There I developed a taste for Havana cigars (that I never since could indulge) and could read omnivorously in the newspapers of the day. We got the best of them . . ."

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, September 18, 1962

Saranac Inn Sold For $75,000

Ralph Bowles Tops Bidders For Huge Resort Hostelry

Florida Buyer Registers Amazement; Auctioneer Expresses Deep Concern

Bowles may either keep the property intact or sell the personal property.

At the beginning of the auction Vosburgh estimated the value of the Inn and adjacent property included in the first lot at four to five hundred thousand dollars. An insurance company appraised the Inn building only, last year, at $1,078,250. Vosburgh also said that the Inn took in a gross of $1,200,000 during its last year of operation which was 1961.. During that year the Inn also had received, on  one day, $38,000.

Vosburgh commented during the bidding that even if the building were torn down the new buyer would be getting fine shore frontage on Upper Saranac Lake at under $15 per foot. 

The bidding opened at $10,000 and rose quickly in $5,000 jumps to $50,000 but then the pace slowed. Vosburgh alternately coaxed, insulted and ribbed the bidders for almost an hour until the property was finally sold.

Before the bidding began, the attorney for the auctioneer answered many questions concerning the property. It was stated at the outset that the title offered was free and clear. The water and sewage systems will belong to the owner of the Inn itself unless the Inn is torn down, in which case it will revert to the cottage owners. Under the present contract, cottage owners will pay $35 a year for use of water and sewage facilities and the golf course will pay $500 per year for the same.

Total taxes on all the Inn property which includes 3,000 acres of land, are presently $16,700. As separate parcels are sold taxes will be distributed proportionately  to sale price. 

The golf course was sold at 1 p.m. to Harry Litman, a Washington, D.C. attorney. The price was $48,000.

Ten cottages will go on the auction block this afternoon.

Saranac Inn on Upper Saranac Lake was sold at auction this morning for $75,000. The purchaser was Ralph Bowles of Deland, Fla.

When asked what he would do with the property, Bowles replied, "I have no idea. I'm as surprised as you are."

Auctioneer Charles Vosburgh of Cortland rapped down his gavel at 12:35 p.m. after an hour and a half of slow bidding. Just before the final bid was made Auctioneer Vosburgh commented , referring to the amounts offered, "This is the worst thing that has ever been done in this locality."

Earlier in the bidding Vosburgh speculated that, with prices being offered, potential buyers seemed to be interested only in salvage. The general feeling among the 400 spectators, who crowded Stanhope Room of the Inn, was that the famous Adirondack Resort hotel would never open its doors again. But the new buyer, Ralph Bowles, was not prepared at the time of the sale to comment one way or the other on possibilities of opening the inn.

Vosburgh announced during the bidding that he had received a firm offer of $50,000 for salvage of personal property in the hotel building itself. The new buyer has the option of selling this personal property for $50,000 before the end of the auction today.

The personal property includes all furniture, rugs, beds, sprinkler systems, boilers, and other fixtures in the main building.

The purchase by Mr. Bowles of the first lot includes the inn itself, with nine acres of land and approximately 1100 feet of lake frontage, the yacht club and several small cottages, the post office building, dormitories, and most of the fixtures in them.

In response to a question from the floor, Vosburgh said he had already received offers from several companies that would be willing to tear down the inn building for salvage. Today the building itself is in extremely good shape. Almost all fixtures are in place and judging from the appearance of the downstairs in the main building, the inn could be opened with little difficulty.

The parking lot of the inn was crowded this morning with automobiles from several states. A large percentage of the audience consisted of area residents and former visitors to the inn.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, October 1, 1968

Saranac Inn Landowners In Answer to Supervisor

Four members of the Saranac Inn Lake Front Association, headed by its president, Frank Goldman, have sent The Enterprise a bitter reply in the form of a "press release" to the statement issued recently by Santa Clara Supervisor David B. Vanderwalker on the issue of the Saranac Inn and the extent of danger stemming from its deterioration and the fire hazard.

The other three signers were J. W. Lang, Aaron Newmark and Daniel H. Mahoney.

Claiming that Mr. Vanderwalker's statement "gave off a lot of heat but not much light," the statement insisted that "His emotional outburst to the press was fraught with misstatement and pregnant with prejudice."

The four said that "Our fear grows with each passing day, especially as the hay surrounding it (the Inn) grows drier and the dirty pine needles more numerous..."

The statement points out that two other large buildings "on or near this beautiful peninsula" had become "raging conflagrations and the adjacent structures were only saved by "the valiant work of the Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake fire departments."

1932 Canaras: Pauline Dewey, "Puds", Saranac Inn, Canaras (3, 4); Red and White (4); Public Speaking Class Play (3); Girls' Glee Club (2, 3, 4); Basketball (3); Cantata (2); Chorus (2, 3, 4) Taking issue with the Supervisor's claim that "Santa Clara is a very small town" with big city taxes, the four property owners maintain that local residents and a few wealthy long-time owners are favored in the assessments.

The statement further says the property owners do not ask that the Town pay for the tearing down of the Inn but that it "serve notice on the titular owner (or owners) and if they fail to do so then tear it down, sue the owner and if the cost is not realized this way, sell the land."

The signers of the statement estimate the value of this "prime land" at "at least $75.00 the front foot or approximately $30,000.00."

They also say that at the "heralded inspection tour on September 21 no member of the association was invited to appear although its president and one other member were present. The statement says that two men "both having been titular owners" were present and names "Mr. Vosburgh and Mr. Duley."

The statement claims that a number of aspects of the Inn's condition were not shown, including the water in the cellar, the "sagging and dangling fire escapes, the disrepair of the roof... the antiquated and defective wiring.

It is also maintained that taxes on the property have not been paid "for at least four years."

The statement concludes that "the awesome size of the Inn, the fact that it is unattended, unoccupied and in disrepair and the danger that it represents is the essence of our complaint." Saranac Inn from the Lake. H. M. Beach; February, 19, 1912.

Though the main building of the Saranac Inn is gone, what's left from the property includes:

1) the 18-hole, par 72 golf course of 6535 yards, an historically important sport in the area. The golf course is not mentioned in the Stoddard Guide of 1898, but does appear in 1901, and the 1902 guide describes the golf course "being extended."

2) the Church of the Ascension (known as the Saranac Inn Chapel from 1935 to 1953). In 1951 the church property of about 2.4 acres was bought from the Upper Saranac Association for $2,600 on the basis of about $1,000 per acre. No value was ascribed to the church building which had not been built or enlarged by the Association but rather with funds and labor contributed by individuals. Source: Samuel T. Bodine & William T. Hord, Church of the Ascension: The First 100 Years, 1884 to 1984, (Saranac Inn Post Office, NY: Church of the Ascension, 1984), 12.

3) about 10 cottages, including President Grover Cleveland's 1888 Honeymoon Cottage and Lady Tree Lodge.

4) a possible historical connection with the Fish Hatchery.

The Adirondack Collection of the Saranac Lake Free Library has a couple of maps of the property.

The above is from research done July 8, 1996 [by whom?].

Letter Sent from Saranac Inn, August 17, 1890 

Saranac Inn
August 17th
One o'c

Dear Edgar,

Brochure from Saranac Inn, 1890. Courtesy of Andrew Terhune.Yesterday I received yours of Friday & ___ to that the other one directed here. Am glad to hear that all are well.

We reached here Wednesday night about 10’30 o’c after waiting six hours at the “Inn Station” which from “Childwold” is a drive of eight miles in __ & 20 minutes by car on the Northern Adirondack road. We telegraphed to be met the day before but it was not received. The woman at the station gave us some Bread & butter & a cup of tea. About 3.30 Jack left us to walk the 9 miles & inform them that we were there. He reached his destination about 6 o’c after meeting a large fox on the road. They left for us at once.

Reverse of Saranac Inn brochure, 1890. Courtesy of Andrew Terhune.The next A.M. Mr. Tucker spoke with us at once. Of course we expected to leave at once as this place is always full, but Mr. T. spoke with his manager & told him we were people that should not be sent away so he twisted & turned things so that he could give us two rooms in the ‘Annex’ and a tent for Jack. It is a pretty location on the Lake. Co? & a full set of bed room furniture, stove & lots of Blankets. I go there after dinner & take a rest. There are two beds in it. It is just lovely. Mrs. Tucker has taken me out twice in her large row boat. We landed at a camp that was deserted the same if we took it everything was furnished for House Keeping, a guide to do the cooking & his wife for the chamberwork & we need only bring our clothes. “That would suit me.” Mr. Peabody nephew of George P. has a cabin to which he has been coming for 12 years. The Chandlers Cooks & many other are here in tents also the Rector of Ascension Dr. Brown of St. Thomas is at Pauls. The docks were never so full as this season. Mr _____ the ___ said that he was brought here 12 years ago on a bed & for 3 years was quite miserable but now he is as well as any of us.

We have been entertained with “slight of hand” & last evening had a Phrenologist . Several has their heads examined Jack among the best. He told him he was lacking in faith – could never be a minister & if he were would probably quarrel with his congregation as he had large combativeness also that he never gave a direct answer to anything. Had a fine table for good eating but what he ate would never make him fat etc. We were more than fortunate to get in here. I was always any possible spot thanks to Mr. Tucker.

They have a fine large garden, fresh vegetables – ‘corn not so good as ours – plenty of fruit. Here there is no snatching & grabbing & waiting as at Pauls. No one is taken when they cannot be accommodated & the service is excellent. Also the cooking.

The Sahles family of N. Y. & the Warings of Yonkers are here the former have their daughters & the later two. The Tuckers have an only daughter I should think about 20. A brunette & quite pretty. This place has the best company, although the Childwold? may be better next season, it is owned by Adelisan Child & H. G. Dorr of Boston. The have 28 hundred acres & were offered 100,000 for it by Paul Smith who does not like competition. Mr. Child left in company with us, said he would not sell & next year would enlarge it. He is said to be very wealthy. This place is owned by Dr. M? of Albany except one & that is owned by a brother of M. R. the manager. Yesterday the new little steamer was launched. We all witnessed it. It was named by little Miss Wood who also broke the bottle.

It will be run twice a day between this house & the Wawbeek on the lower end of this lake. Miss Dayton who was with us at Mrs. Oliver’s “now Mrs. Sherwood” is here with her daughter. We were complimented by the manager for our great patience in waiting at the station – said he expected to get a good scolding as they are or should be there daily. Jack said our strength was experience. They all think when we have been here our weeks we should go to the ____ & then to Lake Placid as Jack in anxious to see all of the docks so I presume that will be the ___”Mirror Lake House at Placid” & get home by the first of Sept. I think Jack is improving, but still thin.

President Cleveland comes here Sept. 1st for hunting and has a cottage right by the hotel. That would be a good time for Eddie to come. How peaceful it would be to have you & he with us. It has just commenced to rain. Much love from all to you & Ed.


Return Address on envelope


Addressed to:

Mr. Charles E. Appleby 55 Liberty Street
New York City N. Y.

Postmarked on front SARANAC INN N.Y. AUG 18 1890

Notes on the letter from Andrew Storm Terhune, great grandson of John Storm Appleby.

Edgar: Charles Edgar Appleby
Sara: Sara Elise Storm Appleby, his wife
Jack: John Storm Appleby, their son who was at the Saranac Inn
Eddie: Edgar Storm Appleby, their son

(Historic Saranac Lake Collection, TCR# 353, courtesy of Andrew Terhune)


See also:


  • Tolles, Bryant F., Jr., Resort Hotels of the Adirondacks, University Press of New England, 2003. ISBN 1-58465-096-6.

External links

Other historic properties


    2012-04-12 01:16:03   In 1961 my parents attended the auction mentioned above with the idea of just enjoying the experience and with no intention of bidding. At the time they lived on Long Island, 5-6 hours away. They came home with the astounding news that they had purchased the "Prospect House" parcel! For $6,000! Our large extended family and many friends spent close to 16 wonderful summers at the Saranac. I have several pieces of memorabilia that I treasure. My father was the only person who had the patience and skill to keep the antiquated heating system going. The row of evergreens that lined the roadway down to the lake were all planted by my dad. All the summer residents grew into a close community through the years, helping each other out when necessary and socializing often. When my Dad died unexpectedly in 1977, Mom felt that she couldn't keep the place up by herself and sold it. We still speak lovingly of our summers there.

    I and my children have enjoyed reading this interesting information - thank you.

    Judith Wexler Rosenbaum —

    2012-04-12 07:51:52   Thanks, Judith. Sounds like it was a great impulse buy! —Mwanner

    When Walter Smaklow owned the Saranac Inn Golf Course, a person remembers Mr. Smaklow where the housing for Black staff was over the garage. White staff was housed elsewhere. It was a long building about where the state launch is now located at Back Bay. There may have been a number of pictures, taken from an airplane commissioned by the Inn. Mr. Smaklow had worked there as a caddy when he was a boy and bought the golf course years later.  - Amy Catania



    1. This article appeared originally on "Wikipedia" as Saranac Inn; its edit history there reflects its authorship. It is licensed under the GDFL.
    2. These changes are according to a note appended to the article in the files of the Adirondack Research Room, Saranac Lake Free Library.