The leaves are turning, kids are going back to school, summer activities are winding down and, for the Historical Society, that means it is Historic Tour time!
I once told my husband years ago the only aspect to living in Lake Placid that disappointed me was that we never got the opportunity to stay in any of the beautiful, historic hotels and inns that line our shores and tuck into our neighborhoods. An enduring romantic, he began reserving an overnight for us, once a year, in a different local establishment. It's been such a pleasure to explore Lake Placid in this way. If you've ever wanted to learn a little more about the hotels and inns along your travel path, your chance is coming up with our Historic Inn tour scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 11. Below is a preview of this year's participating properties.
The Stagecoach Inn: This inn was formerly Osgood's Inn. According to an 1878 journal: "Here elections were held, people gathered for sport and horse trading, drank hard cider, and sometimes other liquids of a more stimulating character."
Located on Old Military Road, the Stagecoach Inn is Lake Placid's last remaining stagecoach inn of its time. Built in 1833 by Iddo Osgood, who owned 320 acres along Old Military Road, in 1849 this site also housed the first town post office, presided over by Iddo's son Dillon as postmaster.
Osgood's Inn was taken over and improved by Martin Lyon, becoming a well-known stagecoach stop.
The Pines Inn: Located on Saranac Avenue, the original Pines Inn was built by Albert Stickney in 1907 and could accommodate 25 guests. In 1923, the Stickneys sold the inn to Paul J. Augsberger, who renamed it the St. Moritz Hotel.
In 1926, a large, six-story addition swallowed up the original inn, and the hotel front was faced with brick. It is believed Augsberger built the Annex behind the hotel. The hotel was winterized to accommodate both summer and winter guests. From here an exciting history evolves including nude sunbathing and private bath sun cabinets on the roof! Exceptional visitors included Albert Einstein, Robert F. Kennedy and Schaefer Brewing Company officers.
High Peaks Resort Lake House: This was formerly The Homestead and Lakeside Motor Inn. For over a century, there has been hospitality at the corner of what is now Main Street and Saranac Avenue. It began in 1850 when Joseph Nash and Benjamin Brewster bough adjoining plots. Their land ran from Mirror Lake up to the top of the ridge then back down to Lake Placid. They bought the land to farm but soon found themselves inundated with tourists and became accidental innkeepers. The parcels nearest the lake are where both High Peaks Resort and Lake House stand now.
Crowne Plaza: This was formerly the Grand View Hotel. Built in 1878 on the top of Grandview Hill, now Olympic Drive, this site (now the Crowne Plaza) commanded a stunning view.
In 1850, Joseph Nash bought the property which included all of present day Main Street, all of Grand View Hill and much of Signal Hill.
In 1878, Moses Ferguson purchased a lot from Nash. Funny enough, around 1859, Nash trapped a panther on the very spot where Moses Ferguson chose to build the Grand View.
The hotel was known for its lavish amenities, food, and dance bands.
In 1922 it became an exclusively Jewish establishment. This beautiful building closed its doors in 1956 and sat empty until it met the wrecking ball in 1961.
Northwoods Inn: Located on Main Street, the Northwoods Inn construction tells a storied tale.
Built by Wes Kennedy on his own property in 1897, right away the Northwoods attracted many summer guests. Kennedy sold his inn at a good profit to Thomas A. Leahy, who successfully operated it for 14 years. Upon selling it to Frank Swift in 1920, Swift set about building a brick, fire-proof building, Lake Placid-Marcy, next to the Northwoods Inn. At that time, Swift used the Northwoods building "annex" as a kitchen facility, guest storage and help's quarters.
Tragedy struck on Dec. 28, 1966, when the old Northwoods Inn annex caught fire and burned to the ground. Five employees died in the blaze, and 475 holiday guests were displaced and taken in by area residents and other hotels. The Marcy reopened 10 days later.
The Inn was well known for great entertainment and famous people who stayed there including George Burns and Gracie Allen and the monkey "Muggs" from the Today Show in 1953. Recent owners returned to the original name of Northwoods Inn in the 2000s.
If you'd like to learn more about the history of these or any other historic establishments in our area, please contact the Historical Society. For more information on our Historic Inn Tour, call 518-523-3830.