A gathering in the main room of the Saranac Lake Free Library, sometime in the early 1910s. The photograph includes some big names in the local community, including Mary Baldwin, Adah J. Hallock, Ernest H. Baldwin, Alice M. Vosburgh, Margaret Duryee, and others. The purpose of this meeting is unknown, but the photograph was taken in the very early days of the Saranac Lake Free Library. The single-room library building was built in 1910 on a parcel donated by George V. W. Duryee, husband of Margaret Duryee. The original building had room for 5,000 volumes; today, the circulating collection has more than 82,000 volumes! Stop by the Saranac Lake Free Library and see what features of this room you can spot today!
[Historic Saranac Lake Collection, TCR 708. Courtesy of Barbara Baldwin Knapp.]
This week's Tuberculosis Thursday is a special one. Yesterday we were honored to spend the morning with Betty Gaffney talking about her time as a patient at Trudeau Sanatorium in 1947-1949. Betty came to Saranac Lake after she contracted tuberculosis at the end of her nurse's training at Bellevue. We sat down to record an oral history with Betty and her sister Pauline, and we really enjoyed hearing about their memories of that time.
Betty graciously donated some photographs to our collection, and said she had nothing but good feelings about her time here. We also took a ride over to Trudeau Sanatorium so Betty could tour the campus for the first time in more than 72 years! We had a great morning with Betty and her family, and we can't wait to share more. Thanks for visiting us and sharing your story!
[Images: Betty Kelly [Gaffney] about age 21 on the steps of Baker Memorial Chapel, c. 1947. Historic Saranac Lake Collection, TCR 712. Courtesy of Betty Gaffney. Betty Gaffney at age 95 in front of Baker Chapel, August 25, 2021]
This article is from February, but we enjoyed reading about the history of fresh air as a disease-fighting tool. We know all about fresh air up here, and it's interesting to read about how it influenced architecture!
This Tuberculosis Thursday, we’re celebrating the belated birthday of a baseball great and big-name TB patient, Christy Mathewson! But who was Christy, and why was he such a big name in Saranac Lake? Christy was considered one of the greatest baseball pitchers of all time, and he contracted TB after WWI. He came to Saranac Lake in 1920 to seek the cure, and originally stayed at the Santanoni under the care of Dr. Edward Packard. In 1924, Christy, his wife, and son moved into the house on Park Avenue that is now known as Christy Mathewson Cottage.
Over the years, Christy’s health slowly improved to the point that he became a part owner of the Boston Braves and got involved with charity efforts to support tuberculosis patients and research. Unfortunately, he was involved in a car accident in 1924 that injured his arm, and by the end of the year his health had deteriorated again. He caught a cold that wouldn’t go away while at spring training with the Braves in April of 1925, and returned to Saranac Lake for bed rest. The baseball world was stunned when he passed away on October 7, 1925. His wife remained in the house on Park Avenue until the 1950s, when she returned to Pennsylvania. Christy was one of the first five inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 along with Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, and Walter Johnson.
Have you visited our friends at the Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center yet this summer? We really enjoyed this post on the history of the Fadden family, and we encourage you to take a visit to Onchiota to learn from them and their incredible collection. Get out there before the end of August! We can't wait to see their new Cultural Center!
Want to get involved as a docent with Historic Saranac Lake and the Saranac Laboratory Museum? Join us for walk-in training hours Wednesdays and Fridays from 10AM to 12PM, August 18 through September 3. Training may also include administrative tasks as interests dictate.
No registration is required, but you can fill out our volunteer form in advance. If you cannot join us during open hours, fill out the above form or contact Mahala Nyberg by email or at 518-891-4606.
Today's Tuberculosis Thursday feature is gone but certainly not forgotten! The Alta Vista Lodge was a grand cure cottage on Franklin Ave. in the Helen Hill neighborhood. It originally began as two separate identical houses, and was combined into one large facility around 1924. It was remembered as an exclusive cottage, and it tragically burned to the ground in 1959.
Learn more about the Alta Vista Lodge on our wiki.
Stay up to date on all the news and happenings from Historic Saranac Lake at the Saranac Laboratory Museum!