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IT'S OUR HISTORY: Gov. Roosevelt stops in Lake Placid

February 2, 2017
By CARLA EILO - Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society , Lake Placid News

Prior to being president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt served as the governor of New York state from 1929 to 1932. While serving as governor, Roosevelt visited Lake Placid on two separate occasions and participated in ceremonies each time.

His first visit to Lake Placid was in September of 1929 and the reason for his trip was to attend a ground-breaking ceremony for the Whiteface Mountain Memorial Highway. The second visit was announcing the opening of the 1932 Olympic Winter Games.

During his first visit, he made his rounds visiting Lake Placid, Ray Brook, Saranac Lake, and Wilmington. Everywhere he went, he was greeted with much fanfare. The Lake Placid News documented the busy day.

Lake Placid News

Sept. 13, 1929

Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt paid his first visit to Lake Placid Wednesday. Arriving at the railroad station in his private car at seven o'clock in the morning. The state's chief executive met leading local citizens at the Stevens House, visited Ray Brook sanatorium, motored through the streets of Saranac Lake, returned to Lake Placid and took part in a parade through the village, and then went to Wilmington where he turned the first shovelful of earth for the Whiteface Mountain Memorial highway and delivered an address at the ceremonies following the dedication.

The Governor was accompanied by his personal secretary, Guernsey T. Cross, Executive Officer Robert Fitzmaurice, and other members of the gubernatorial staff. ...

Following a short stop at the Stevens House the parade formed preceding, rode four state troopers mounted on motorcycles. These were followed by the gubernatorial car and other cars directors of the Lake Placid chamber of commerce, newspapermen, and photographers.

The cavalcade was met at the entrance to Ray Brook hospital by cheering groups of patients. The Governor waved to them, smiled, and the cars drove on to Saranac Lake, where the part was met at the outskirts of the village by a delegation of citizens, Saranac Lake boys' band, and an escort of boy and girl scouts. School children lined the streets and cheered Governor Roosevelt to the echo. The streets of Saranac Lake were especially decorated for the occasion. Driving along slowly, the party doubled back and returned quickly to Lake Placid, where an informal reception was held at the Stevens House. The Governor stopped on his return and inspected the Alaska Silver Fox Farm at Lake Placid.

Parade in Lake Placid

Then with the Lake Placid firemen's band and an escort of local police in charge, Chief Black leading the way, the gubernatorial party motored through Main Street, while the crowds packing the sidewalks cheered and cheered.

At the high-school campus, the Governor was greeted by nearly a thousand pupils of the local school departments. There in front of the Olympic sign at the site of the stadium for the Third Olympic Winter Games of 1932, Governor Roosevelt posed for photographers, shaking hands with Jack Shea, international speed skating champion, and his father, Hon. James Shea of this village.

With the local band playing a martial air, the long lines of cars left post haste for Wilmington. At the junction of the main state highway and the Franklin Falls road, the party was met by leading Wilmington residents and officials including Frank Everest, Supervisor Charles Taylor, George Smith, and others. Music was supplied by the 26th Infantry band from Plattsburgh.

Brief but impressive ceremonies were observed at this spot, where the great memorial highway up Whiteface mountain will begin.

With a gold-plated shovel the Governor turned the first earth for the road saying, as he did so, "This is the first step in the beginning of a great road."

Cheering was prolonged as the simple ceremony was completed and construction of the scenic highway officially started. ...

Members of the Essex County posts of the American Legion took a prominent part in the ceremonies. The Whiteface Mountain highway is being built as a memorial to the soldiers and sailors of New York State who lost their lives in the Great War. Lake Placid had a large delegation of legionnaires present.

A crowd of several thousand had in the meantime gathered in the open space on the right-hand side of the main highway just around the turn to participate in the exercises.

Led by the 26th Infantry band of Plattsburgh and an escort of Wilmington boy scouts, the party paraded through the village and returned to the flag-draped stand for the formal exercises to mark the beginning of work on the Whiteface road.


Upcoming lecture

Please join us for our Winter Lecture at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15 at Nicola's. Jim Rogers will be presenting "Memories of the 1980 Winter Olympics." For more information, please visit our website at



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