Alice Wareham's 2007 article (below) does not mention any maple trees, but the following appeared in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on July 8, 2009, under the headline, "Partly dead maple trees by WWI Memorial to go": [photo] The village will remove two of the partially dead maple trees, seen here, next to the World War I Memorial at the intersection of Church and River streets in Saranac Lake. Village Trustee John McEneany said Monday evening this will open the space for some other group to plant trees there."
World War I Veterans’ Memorial Park (Veterans’ Triangle)
Corner of Church and River streets
by Alice R. Wareham, for the Saranac Lake Village Improvement Society, May 2007
Originally known as Triangle Park, the World War I Veterans’ Memorial Park at the corner of Church and River streets holds a special place in the Saranac Lake Village Improvement Society’s history for it was the first in a string of Lake Flower parks which VIS created to bring an Olmsted Plan for the Improvement of Saranac Lake to reality.
Created in 1912 from a marshy lot, it was sold to the Village in 1921 for the World War I Veterans’ Memorial with proviso that it remain a park in perpetuity.
Master Mason Matthew Winderl laid the granite bench. The plaque, donated by the late Mr. and Mrs. Charles Palmer, is of a special weather-resistant bronze. Andrew Fortune, Jr., researched the plaque material during VIS’ 1984 re-landscaping and determined it was crafted from the weather-resistant bronze which remains and is not meant to be cleaned.
In the early 1970s, a then four-lane highway expansion on River street widened the entry to Church street and drastically cut the park’s size. The tip of the original park now melds into three lanes directing traffic from Church street onto River.
Gradually the memorial deteriorated and the unkempt native trees behind it became so overgrown they obscured the memorial, endangered the adjacent Christian Science Center roof and their roots began to unsettle the memorial’s granite foundation.
In 1984, under the presidency of Patricia Bentz, the VIS received Village permission and co-operation in re-landscaping the re-titled “Veterans’ Park”. Robert Winderl, son of the mason who had done the original work, volunteered his time to repair the memorial with VIS buying his supplies and Andrew Fortune, Jr., researched cleaning the plaque, determining it should be left alone. Prisoners from Camp Adirondack had been planting an appropriate star garden in the park’s center. The VIS later undertook the garden planting which, currently, the Veterans’ Association does.
During the re-landscaping three memorial gifts were received: two French lilacs in memory of Harold Bentz, Sr., given by Col. and Mrs. Harold Bentz, Jr.; another for John S. Ridenour given by Alice Ridenour Wareham; and two flowering crabapple trees in memory of Arthur and Marie Pratt given by their son, Russell Pratt. The Village removed the overgrown hedge behind the memorial and VIS replaced it with a cedar hedge.
The original memorial design had flagstone paths leading from Church and River street sidewalks to the memorial. These had become partly lost, assumed removed, during the street widening until WWII Navy veteran Thomas Flynn, who had been voluntarily cleaning the park of litter daily, unearthed some of the stones.
In 1992, through the offices of Village Development Director David MacDowell, Adirondack campmen returned to lift and reset the flagstones, completing VIS Veterans’ Park’s first restoration phase.
In 1995 VIS returned to undertake the second phase of Veterans’ Park restoration under Diane DeLair’s presidency. The memorial itself was deteriorating quickly, a problem which had to be tackled at once.
Peter LaHart, Gerald Macy and Gary Sovey of Madden’s Transfer and Storage, supervised by Master Mason Fred Winderl, who was repointing the monument, removed the 50-year-old plaque Aug. 11. The plaque was stored at Madden’s warehouse until work was completed.
The monument’s repair involved several local family connections. Matthew Winderl, whose name is listed on the plaque and who laid the granite bench, was Fred Winderl’s father. Also listed are James and Raymond Madden, uncles of William Madden, Sr., whose firm donated the moving and storage.
VIS planned the restoration’s first phase in five steps. Winderl repointed the memorial’s base. Step two included removing the plaque, repointing the masonry behind it and replacing the plaque. Next the seat needed to be repaired, then Winderl sealed the memorial against dampness, a step he donated to the project’s preservation. Finally, the Veterans’ Association graded behind the structure to prevent water seepage from damaging the foundation.
VIS President DeLair next sought estimates from several monument companies for the bench repair to accomplish phase two.
In 1996 Scheefer’s Plumbing and Heating cleared the clogged seat drains and Gilette General Construction, Inc., began work to repair the monument’s right hand seat, recently damaged by an auto accident. The seat was recast, left to set and finally treated to match the left one.
In 1995 Ann Flynn donated two more lilacs in memory of her husband, Thomas Flynn, and in 2002 George Bedore placed an American flag at the Veterans’ World War I park.
In the late 1990s VIS took over planting the star garden in the currently titled Veterans’ Triangle. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3357 assumed responsibility for the park’s maintenance and planting the garden in 2005.