We spend a lot of time looking at porches, thinking and talking about porches, even drawing porches, all in an effort to create a concrete set of plans for the creation of the Cure Porch on Wheels. This project is important to us and the community we serve, which is why we spend so much time trying to make it great.
One aspect of the project that is both a challenge, but also gives a sense of purpose is the idea of the porch itself. There are other organizations, including museums, with mobile exhibit spaces, but none of those look like a cure porch. Many such spaces are made from remodeled ice cream trucks, public buses, or even something like an RV. They’re the perfect fit for that organization, but they’re not quite what we want to do, what we think will be an ideal space not just for HSL activities, but also for the community organizations we’ll be partnering with to promote local artists, cultural activities and more.
So why a cure porch? Why a porch at all, why not just a boxy mini house or revamped Airstream (I love Airstreams, so please send us one if you can)? Because those things aren’t emblematic of Saranac Lake. A cure porch isn’t just an open space you travel through to get to the house. It isn’t just a pretty piece of architectural decor. Cure porches were the places where countless people from all over the United States and abroad spent their days and nights, in all seasons, getting well. On cure porches, tuberculosis patients laughed, cried, felt better, felt worse, read letters from family members, listened to the radio (WNBZ was the local station), and made lifelong friends. There were cure porches on cottages and at sanitoria. Simply put, they were an important part of life in Saranac Lake for a so many people. Now, they adorn many houses in town and remind us of the village’s fascinating past.
Historic Saranac Lake is developing the Cure Porch on Wheels, an exciting mobile exhibit space that will allow HSL to present mini exhibitions and oral history projects to audiences at locations throughout the area.