It's Fan Friday, so we're answering a Women's History Month question from Katherine: "How did Petrova School get its name?"
Great question! Petrova school is named for Olga Petrova, who was a vaudeville actress, silent film star, and writer. Although her name sounds Russian, it was actually a stage name. She was born Muriel Harding in England. She adopted the stage name Olga Petrova for vaudeville performances in London and eventually moved to the US to star in silent films for Solax Studios. She was Metro Films' first "diva," and was often cast as the femme fatale.
Petrova came to Saranac Lake on several occasions at the height of her fame, at the request of theatrical agent William Morris. She and other stars of stage and screen would perform in Saranac Lake to raise funds and support tubercular patients.
Petrova School was built in 1925 to replace the original Saranac Lake High School, which originally stood where the Hotel Saranac is now. It housed grades K-12 until 1969, when the current High School was built just up the road. Today it serves grades K-8!
Petrova left the film industry in 1918 but continued to act in Broadway plays and appear on stages across the world. She retired just before the Great Depression and eventually settled in Clearwater, FL, where she lived until her death at the age of 93. She was an early advocate for women's equality and empowerment, so we're happy to feature her for Women's History Month! Thanks for the great question, Katherine!
Learn more about Petrova on our wiki!