The Saranac Lake Industrial Settlement was a short-lived charitable experiment to enable recovering tuberculosis patients to earn a living. By the turn of the twentieth century, more and more people were living with tuberculosis which led to a need to assist them to find employment and remain in healthy climates. A similar experiment, sponsored by the Y.M.C.A, had been started outside Denver. By the fall of 1903, Denver's Association Health Farm had 28 furnished tents. Residents, all of whom were in the early stages of tuberculosis, paid between $20 and $30 per month and were expected to participate in the Farm's agricultural activity. 1
The Saranac Lake Industrial Settlement was established on about five acres of land leased from Mrs. Norse. It was located on a south-facing slope of the shoulder of Mt. Pisgah, the location has excellent solar exposure, as good as could be found for gardening in this otherwise marginal climate. The parcel is located along Bloomingdale Avenue across from the Pine Street bridge. It is bounded by Bloomingdale Avenue, private property, an extension of Old Military Road and Grove Street. In May 1907 a truck garden began there on a previously-existing farm, and chickens were raised, all for sale at market prices. 2
Like the Association Farm, the Industrial Settlement paid workers a modest hourly wage and charged them room and board if they resided on the farm. In its first year, it received donations from Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Carnegie and the Russell Sage Foundation. A diary kept by its founder 3 suggests that internal conflicts and and inability to attract ongoing financial support led to its demise at the end of 1907.
The site became a housing development, built around some existing houses, known as Cantwell Estates, and later owned by Earl Arnold, who rented many apartments there; at that time it was called Old Military Estates.
New York Times, May 26, 1907
SARANAC HOME NEEDS FUNDS.
Aid Sought to Lease a Farm for Tuberculosis Convalescents.
Financial aid is asked by the Saranac Lake industrial Settlement for the maintenance of a home for persons who, having reached the arrested stage in pulmonary tuberculosis, can no longer remain in institutions for incipient cases.
A desirably situated dwelling, with five acres of arable land, together with a small cottage for leather and other industries has been leased for a term of two years, with the privilege of purchase within six months, it is estimated that the expense of the first year will aggregate $5,000. Contributions toward this sum may be sent to Dr. Joseph L. Nichols at Highland Park, Saranac Lake.
It is the purpose of the society to provide light employment for the inmates of the home, either in gardening or light manufacturing work, which maybe carried on in the open air. A market is, assured for the products of the settlement, which it is hoped may thus become in a measure self-supporting.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, December 22 and 23, 1969
The Year 1907—
350 Guests Attend Opening of Saranac Lake Industrial Settlement
Everyone of prominence in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid and in many camps in this locality was present and all were charmingly entertained by Mrs. Scott, the superintendent, assisted by a number of young women from the sanitarium.
Everything was open for inspection and the guests were shown through the settlement which, besides the superintendent's house, included a cottage where the leather crafters are employed and other industries are followed, and five acres of land where poultry raising gardening of vegetables and flowers and other industrial work are carried on. The superintendent's house was thrown open to guests, the large commodious rooms being beautifully and artistically decorated with flowers from the garden. One large sitting room was devoted to a display of fancy articles made in the settlement and offered for sale.
"Rooms were designed for accommodation of those persons who are forced to remain here in order to effect a permanent cure and wish to master some paying occupation. Here they may obtain suitable living rooms and excellent board at a nominal figure while they are at the same acquiring a trade or occupation by which they may become self-supporting."
One room contains a reference library on subjects in which residents are interested. For women sewing, embroidery, the making of garments, lingerie, etc. are taught. Mending will be done. Later the managers expect to inaugurate weaving, the making of jewelry and ornamental work, and taking up other artistic handicrafts.
On the farm, a young lawyer will raise poultry. An engineer is tending the garden. It was said that he did not know a dandelion at the beginning, of the summer but now he can pick out weeds.
After everything was inspected, tea was poured by Mrs. Larom, Mrs. Howell, Miss Howland and Miss Nash.
The Industrial Settlement is in the experimental stage and will be closely watched. With Mrs. Scott at the head of the settlement it truly is in judicious and capable hands. She is the wife of Prof. William Earl Scott, curator of the department of ornithology at Princeton and an author of some standard works on ornithology. At present he occupies a cottage in back of the settlement.
1. "Denver's Association Health Farm," in Journal of the Outdoor Life, v. 1, #11 (December 1904), p. 135.
2. "The Garden of the Saranac Lake Industrial Settlement," by William E. D. Scott, published in Charities and The Commons, December 7, no year given, but likely 1907 or 1908.
3. The diary is archived in the library of the Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, NY.