The Feisthamel-Edelberg Cottage

McCormick Cottage French Hill is one of the earliest neighborhoods in Saranac Lake. It is comprised of east-west streets McClelland, James, Charles, Prospect Avenue, McIntyre, Neil, and Olive Streets and Arnold Drive; and north-south streets Hope, Fairview Avenue, William, Virginia and McComb. It is about forty acres in extent.John Little Cottage

James McClelland, a guide for Paul Smith, came to Saranac Lake from Elizabethtown before 1870. James later purchased 60 acres of land from Smith, on the hill west of Broadway, what was to become the French Hill section of Saranac Lake. When it was developed, many streets including James, Virginia, Charles, William and Neil, were named by his widow, Mary E. (Wise) McClelland, for members of her family. James and McClelland Streets, named in memory of James McClelland, run parallel to each other. Present day McIntyre Street was originally named Lena Street, after another of Mary's children.

The place name is presumably derived from original settlement by French Canadians. There are places called French Hill in Malone and in Hopkinton.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 7, 1976

HUD plan progressing well SARANAC LAKE Fred Neese, in charge of administering the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plan for the rehabilitation of French Hill, reported at last week's meeting of the Village Improvement Society (VIS) that the plan is not only progressing but promises to be part of a continuing process.

HUD has already approved the village board's new application for a 1976 grant of $125,000 and approval of the grant itself is expected before July 15. The sum is less than the $300,000 originally requested, but will be sufficient to effect a greatly needed improvement of the outmoded village sewer system.

Neese cited other grants that could be made available for many projects that have been on the VIS planning board but have been thwarted thus far by lack of funds. He listed desirable ideas that federal funding now brings into the realm of possibility, among them reclamation of the river bank and demolition of derelict buildings.

Of the initial $300,000 French Hill program, Neese said that eight buildings have been acquired for demolition. Three other dwellings will be rehabilitated on a grant or grant-loan basis. Another is in the process of condemnation. During the last six months, 50 additional applications have been filed for rehabilitation loans and grants.

The initial stage of the program, he explained, has  proceeded slowly because of the enormous amount of duplication that is involved in the requisite filing and refiling of copies. Although the year allotted to the present operation expires in July any residue of unexpended funds will be carried over to the completion of the project.

Questioned about the proposed demolition of the Alpine Hotel. Neese replied that the village board has been advised that it is structurally sound, and has put it on the market in the hope that a buyer will restore it to the tax rolls and assume the responsibility for its reconditioning.

The Potter Building is not within the French Hill district but could be purchased by the Department of Transportation (DOT) with funds that would be made available with the adoption by local merchants of one of the traffic-management surveys that the DOT has provided. Should one of these plans be accepted, other HUD funds could then be sought for improving store fronts as well as exteriors facing potentially attractive parking spaces at the rear of shops and office buildings. It is only by such reclamation of shabby downtown shopping areas, Neese said, that the exodus of business to out-of-town shopping-malls can be averted.

In pointing out the motivations behind the HUD approach to urban planning. Neese listed the creation of local jobs; stimulation of local purchasing; payment of bills for services within 30 to 60 days; and raising community standards by calling attention to building codes of health and safety.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 3, 1977

French Hill progress described to VIS

SARANAC LAKE  In the second year of the planned rehabilitation of the French Hill District, funded by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 24 dilapidated buildings have been either made relivable or demolished and their former residents relocated elsewhere. Facilitating the arrangement, relocation money has been obtained from Community Development Funds for payment (beyond the appraisal price) of an outright $200 in dislocation allowance and moving expenses (not to exceed $350) up to a distance of 50 miles.

The ultimate goals of the program as described at yesterday's meeting of the Village Improvement Society (VIS) by Fred Neese, Village Rehabilitation Officer, is not only to improve the visual aspect of the community but to provide jobs in an area of high unemployment and to rebuild an eroding tax base...

7 Olive Street Silver Cottage Hay Cottage 44 Neil Street 30 James Street 1 Virginia Street

Sanborn map coverage of French Hill was non-existent in 1916. In 1924 they covered more.  The 1931 maps give almost complete coverage, except for the most western area.

Sanborn map of the northern part of French Hill

Sanborn map of the south-central French Hill.  This map has north oriented about 20 degrees east of true north.Sanborn map of southernmost French Hill, 1931

See also