Historic Saranac Lake: A walk through town

The last weekends are approaching for the Historic Saranac Lake walking tour. The 45-minute walk may be a stretch for the very young so for my excursion, I indulge in some alone time.

Mary Hotaling, now the Architectural Historian, leads my tour. We meet at the bridge overlooking Lake Flower and from then on local facts and history are dropping like rain. Thankfully Hotaling encourages questions, thrives on them actually.

I won’t give a blow-by-blow because taking the tour and then going to the museum is half the fun. Even for someone born and raised in the area would find some interesting tidbits in Saranac Lake’s multidimensional past.

The tour is only available one more week, October 9 at 11:00 a.m. at Harrietstown Town Hall, for a small $5.00 donation. It is worth a walk around town to see how an industry arose from an illness.

As we walk Main Street I am slowly taken back in time as Hotaling peels away the various architecture to its bare bones and shares glimpses of empty fields where buildings now stand and fires that changed the landscape.

We end the walking portion of the tour at the Laboratory, the headquarters for Historic Saranac Lake. Currently two exhibits are on display. The recently renovated Saranac Laboratory of Dr. Edward Trudeau hosts “125 Years of Science in Saranac Lake” highlighting the hopes people pinned on the research and treatment of tuberculosis conducted by Dr. Trudeau in this very location. Pictures show doctors at work struggling for a TB cure. Display cases show the various tools of the time. Since this is in a currently unheated section of the building this display will close for the season on October 10.

The second exhibit is in the John Black Memorial Room, a wing donated by the Black family in 1928 in memory of their son who succumbed to TB in 1923. It is only fitting that this room would house a “Great War” display as Black became infected with tuberculosis while serving in France. The exhibit not only highlights Black’s involvement but the many locals’ contribution and sacrifice to World War I. After October 10th this exhibit will be available through 2010 by appointment only.

Historic Saranac Lake is located at 89 Church Street. Open Thursday – Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. or by appointment. For additional information please call 891-5606 or on the web atwww.historicsaranaclake.org.

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