Adirondack Daily Enterprise, December 26, 1987
Boom times in Saranac Lake
Incorporated only eight years prior to the turn of the century Saranac Lake Village entered an era of rapid growth and prosperity which endured until the big depression of 1930. During those intervening years mercantile establishments flourished shoulder to shoulder along Main Street and Broadway overflowing into many side streets.
It might be interesting to recall some of the more prominent businesses and price tags accompanying the advertisements of that time.
Most numerous of the stores, in one category, were the grocery emporiums due, no doubt, to the profusion of cure cottages throughout the village. Even those patients who were confined still had to eat! Where the Post Office Pharmacy stands today was Gibney's Market one of the outstanding food stores where, during the season, rabbits, ducks, and other game were hung outdoors along the front windows to attract the gourmets of fish and game. A few doors down the street at 72-76 Main, was Munn Bros, selling not only fancy groceries but also wine and liquor with pre-prohibition prices that bring a tear of nostalgia. For example: a quart of rye whiskey at $1.00, a bottle of sherry at 75 cents, a bottle of Port at 75 cents, or all three for just $1.25.
The brothers William and Percy Mullen had rival grocery stores and both were well patronized. When Percy's store was located at 6 Woodruff Street his advertisement read "It pays to walk around the corner." To prove his point he listed such items as fresh liver 15 cents per Ib., frankfurters 27 cents per Ib., pork chops 35 cents per Ib., a dozen pickles 20 cents, package of oatmeal 14 cents, and Del Monte peaches 20 cents per can. Over on Depot Street, Tobin's Market offered Chicago dressed beef, Guinea Hens, roasting pigs, geese, blue point oysters, and Philadelphia scrapple. Who could ask for anything more?
W. F. Straight at 43 Broadway sold his groceries the "straight way" and claimed his customers were always satisfied. Utting's store at 27 Main Street combined groceries with crockery, fancy goods, and stationery to attract the one stop shopper. Mr. F. Purpura, opposite the Town Hall, announced the arrival of a carload of Georgia Peaches at the "home of fresh fruits and vegetables." To mention every grocery store which operated during these early years would require a listing beyond the limits of this article but most readers will remember such names as Duffy, Elliot, Fresher, Bosch, Quin, Towner, Tully, Bedore, Drutz and Effenbach.
Next in line were the clothing stores which were well represented along Main and Broadway offering haberdashery at bargain prices. C.J. Carey at 79 Main Street was the "house of Kuppenheimer" and during a 1917 sale advertised men's suits and overcoats at $12 to $22. Arrow shirts with cuffs attached or separate went for 83 cents to $1.62 each. Across the street T.F. Finnigan asked "Why not go to sleep in style?" in His Master's Pajamas at $2 per set. Incidently this is the only surviving store in this category and is in the third generation of management. Leonard's was the largest department store in town and among its winter clothing items were sweaters at $4.48, leather mittens lined with lamb's wool at $1.98, and a special garment for the outdoors cure chair occupant consisting of a heavy blanket robe with detachable hood and feet at only $6.98. Everett's at 27 Broadway offered men's sport jackets at $5.45 and boy's four piece knicker suits at $10.45. Goldsmith's on Main St. reduced its entire stock during an early 1900 pre-inventory sale. Women's suits went for $16.50 as did women's coats. Such furs as coon-skin, black fox, beaver, martin, and mink were all one third off the regular price. Sam Edelberg at 15 Broadway specialized in fine custom tailoring together with all sorts of fur garments.
The ladies were served by many fine stores on Main and Broadway. The Fashion Shoppe at 72 Main Street had summer dresses for $10.75 while Reader's offered Comfolette corsets. Jacqmor's advertised evening gowns and dinner dresses starting at $8.95. Kennedy's at the corner of Main and Academy Streets, gained a fine reputation over many years as a leading ladies apparel store. Altman's originally at 50 Main Street is still doing business at its present location on Berkeley Hill.
Many specialty shops catered to such items as shoes and hats. Mulflur and Nutter both had shoe stores on Main St. and Cane's, at the corner of Broadway and Woodruff sold Mallory hats and Bostonian shoes. Across from Cane's W.M. Herron offered "drinkables" such as whiskey, wine, brandy, and malt beverages together with cordials and cigars. Up the hill at 7 Broadway was Bouck's Delicatessen where Mother's Bread sold for 10 cents a loaf. In the front window was a large roasting machine which was vented out to the sidewalk. When coffee beans or peanuts were being roasted the pleasant aroma drifted out to lure the passerby into the store. In back of the Saranac Lake Supply Co. was Graeve's Bakery which turned out the popular Carnation Bread and on Shepard Avenue was Barney's Bakery run by the Natowitz family, both long gone.
If you have purchased a new car recently you might agonize over these prices of the 1920's. John A. Gallaway at 15 Bloomingdale Avenue had the Chevrolet dealership and a half ton truck for only $375, P.W. Lattrell of 9 Dorsey Street, put forth the 4-door Nash coupe for $1,990, and Duprea Bros., at 8 Bloomingdale Avenue featured the Oakland Six sedan at $1095. The joint Ford and Buick agency was located in the Vosburg garage at 11 River Street and the Gray-Bellows Motor Company promoted the air cooled Franklin at 122 Main Street. The Pontiac six sold for $825 and the Hudson coach for $1095. The Shelley Tool Company at 135 Broadway boasted a fireproof garage to serve the needs of motorists day and night for all mechanical problems. Frank Lane at 117 Broadway provided Mohawk tires and vulcanizing the electric way to keep the autos rolling. How many of us can remember the Page, the Pierce-Arrow, the Whippet, the Overland, the Packard, or the Winton?
Drifting backwards to the year 1906 local residents enjoyed the luxury of a choice between such rivals as two banks, two telephone companies, two hardwares, and two newspapers. Dr. Frank Kendall had opened the Saranac Lake National Bank to compete with Alfred Donaldson's Adirondack National Bank. The Home Telephone Co. vied with the Franklin Telephone and Telegraph Co. to supply phone service. Most of the stores throughout the village added the notation (Both Phones) at the bottom of their, advertisements so that subscribers from either line could call in their orders.
The two hardware stores were Walton and Tousley at 36 Main, next door to the Town Hall, and George L. Starks in the building presently occupied by Aubuchon. "Carnival Week Specials" at Stark's listed some very nice bargains for winter fun. Nestor Johnson racing skates for only $8, snow shoes sold for $3.75 a pair, a six foot toboggan cost $5.40, and 10 inch high sheepskin lined moccasins went for $1.50. To warm your cold bed the old reliable "stone pig" could be yours for 40 cents. Kenneth Goldthwaite's Adirondack Enterprise was being challenged by Fuller's Gleaner which was published by J.M. Fuller, the "Duke of Saranac Lake" at 5 cents per copy.
Many services were available in 1906 which have long since become obsolete. Livery stables operated by Fowler, Latour and Ryan offered "fine turnouts for all occasions." J.W. Cromie was a harness-maker while John J. O'Leary provided scientific horse shoeing. Mr. Mannix delivered coal with his ox and wagon. Under a picture of his unique rig was printed "You no need to whip him, he likes to haul good coal." Sheldon, Finegan, and Foster each offered to haul baggage to any place in town. A young entrepreneur by the name of Ernest Grice ran the following ad "The hustling newspaper boy, Flatiron Bldg. 34 Broadway. Papers delivered for 25 cents per week. Terms strictly cash. Papers delivered 20 minutes after train time."
Harding and Gray on the ground floor of the Harding Block sold Adirondack souvenirs, sporting goods, and novelties. C.R. Hoadley in the Farrell Block specialized in carriage trimming and painting while Levi Martin's Tonsorial Parlor was located in the Riverside Inn. F. W. Loomis at 21 Broadway ran a variety store featuring everything from eyeglasses to Edison talking machines. A man by the name of Spaulding had a dry goods store and a somewhat taciturn nature. A lady customer pointed to a certain pattern of cloth on the top shelf which caught her eye. Spaulding rolled over the movable ladder climbed up and brought down the bolt of material for her inspection. "How much is it a yard?" she asked. "Eighty nine cents" replied the merchant. "Oh my, isn't that pretty high?" said the woman. Without another word Spaulding picked up the cloth and started back up the ladder. Over his shoulder he said "it's going higher." Many private cure cottages advertised the advantages of their premises. W.C. Rice at the Villa Dorsey claimed the finest location in town with sanitary arrangements for 30 guests at $12 per week. Mrs. A. M. Lonkey at 22 Bloomingdale Avenue ran the Sunnyside Cottage and also claimed the most pleasant location. The Riverdale Cottage at 13 Maple Street (now Riverside Drive) was operated by Miss May Lewis who boasted large pleasant sleeping rooms. The Colbath Cottage at 30 River Street mentioned that electric lights and hot water heat were available with rooms at $2. At 72 Lake Street, the Duso Cottage was open all year with rates starting at $7. Mrs. T. Dewey of the Dewey Cottage at 7 Dewey Place announced the opening of summer camps on the wooded slopes of Lake Kiwassa "for those wishing relief from the heat and dust." Other early cottages were named the Elm, Lakeview, Spring Rock, Mt Pisgah, and Clearview. All of these and so many more came into being to serve the needs of the overflow from the local sanitariums during the early 1900's.
Those health seekers who were admitted to the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium were privileged to take the cure under a most prestigious board of directors. The officers were: Dr. E.L. Trudeau, President; Daniel W. Riddle, Secretary and Treasurer.
The trustees were: Charles M. Lea, Edward H. Harriman, Whitelaw Reid, William H. Penfold, Anson Phelps Stokes, Dr. Walter B. James, Dr. Seward Webb, Dr. E.L. Trudeau, and D.W. Riddle. All of these men, except Riddle and Webb, were members of the Paul Smith Clan on St. Regis Lake. Riddle was the manager of Saranac Inn and Webb, who was William Vanderbuilt's son-in-law, was the builder of the Adirondack Railroad. Dr. Trudeau's own recovery, during his stay at Paul Smith's Hotel, brought him in contact with the wealthy campers who were to back him financially in the construction of Trudeau Sanitarium, as it was later called, and in his battle against tuberculosis which brought fame and prosperity to the village.