In 1916 the hotel was purchased by the owner of the Harrington Hotel in Washington, DC, who completely rebuilt the structure, adding two stories, elevators, and a private bath in each room. It underwent further enlargement in the 1920s, and noted Saranac Lake architect William G. Distin was responsible for much of the design work. At its height, between the enlarged main hotel and the many lakeside cottages and platform tents favored by some guests, it could accommodate a thousand guests.
Unfortunately, after the Great Depression, the hotel’s business suffered and ownership changed hands many times. It was eventually sold off piecemeal at auction, and in the mid-1970s, the main hotel was disassembled for salvage. Finally, on June 17, 1978, a spectacular seven-hour fire destroyed what was left. A small collection of cottages that grew up around the Inn (the first dozen were built by the Inn owners) still exists today.
In its heyday, the Saranac Inn played host to Presidents Grover Cleveland (on his honeymoon!) and Chester A. Arthur, as well as New York Governors Charles Evan Hughes and Al Smith. To read more about the extensive history of this luxury hotel, see more photograph, and read letters sent from the Saranac Inn, visit our wiki!