Today’s sunshine and blue skies reminded us of this next National Postcard Week pick! This linen postcard shows a scene of summer fun at the Saranac Inn. This large, luxurious hotel was originally built as the Prospect House in 1864 at the northern end of Upper Saranac Lake. The Prospect House was a small hotel that accommodated 15 guests. Eventually it grew to fit 100 guests, and in 1886 was purchased by an investment group headed by Dr. Samuel B. Ward, who renamed it Saranac Inn and renovated and enlarged the hotel.
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!
Stay up to date on all the news and happenings from Historic Saranac Lake at the Saranac Laboratory Museum!