The loss of the Boatworks Building, and businesses that resided there, last week has been devastating for so many. As with many small communities, individuals and businesses alike have rallied around our neighbors and friends offering food, arranging work space, and organizing fundraisers to try and give these business owners a chance to continue their good work while considering ways to rebuild what was lost. We wish them all a speedy recovery.
Lake Placid is no stranger to fire's destructive nature and many historic structures succumbed to flames throughout our history. As a steward of Lake Placid and North Elba history, we at the historical society wish to express our deep sympathies for what has been lost and in tribute, hope to share the story of how the building at 263 Station St. came to be.
In 1895, James, John and Matthew Hurley built the American House Hotel (located where Hulbert's Heating and Cooling is now) and the property included the hotel, garage, livery, cottage, plus the coal, grain, and hay businesses and the buildings and sheds used for these purposes. In 1914, Michael and Thomas Brennan (further known as the Brennan Brothers) purchased the hotel, garage, livery, and cottage.
In the teens and 1920s the Brennan Brothers operated an automobile garage which was part of the American House Hotel property next door. The original garage can be seen behind the burned out portion of the current Boatworks Building. It is the small stone building attached to the rear of the main building.
The large front piece was added in 1919 by the Brennans. Michael Brennan sold his interest to John Devlin and Eugene Dwyer who continued as partners of Tom Brennan. In 1927 Vernon Devin bought the interest of Dwyer and Brennan and the property was sold to Roy Paul. In the 1930s and part of the 1940s the Devlin family (Conni Cross' father and uncle) owned and operated a Ford dealership. They sold new and used cars. It was reported that they even took horses and cows in trade for cars. Conni has a picture of her father (Hurley) selling a new 1937 Ford Convertible to the famous radio and TV personality, Lowell Thomas, who was a regular in Lake Placid and even did some of his broadcasts from here.
Another business was Ridlon Motors in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In the 1960s, the building housed Fletcher Boyer's Ford dealership as well as Eldred McComber's car dealership. After the car dealerships, it was owned by Bob Wikoff who operated his "Mt. Paper" business which supplied all kinds of products for local establishments. After Bob moved the business to Ray Brook he sold the building to Ben Cross who operated an auto parts store and auto body shop during the mid-1970s to early 1980s. After that, it had a couple of owners with various businesses including Bill's bakery and River Rock Salon. The most recent was Joe Moore's Placid Boatworks shop, Rick's Taxi and Cake Placid.
For three years from 2009-2011, it also served as the home office for the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society during our Cornerstone accessioning project. Joe Moore beautifully finished the space to our particular specifications. It was an ideal location close to the museum building yet offering modern, year-round conveniences like insulation and climate control.
At one time the mill pond shoreline was within a foot of the town side of the building until that area was filled in for an access road to the properties behind the garage. Only time will tell what will occupy the property at 263 Station.
The Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society would like to invite you to the second of our 2013 'Odds and Ends' winter lecture series on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at Howard Johnson's in Lake Placid. We welcome Scott Carroll and Marc Nathanson presenting "Small Town, Big Dreams: The Story Behind Lake Placid's PBS Documentary."
Dinner on your own begins at 6pm. As always, our lectures are free and open to the public. We hope to see you there!
Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society
Contact: Jennifer Tufano
by email at
verizon.net or visit