10/19/2017

Cure Cottages of Saranac Lake

By Carl Baker

When Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau cured his Tuberculosis by spending as much time as possible outdoors in the environs of Saranac Lake NY, his prescription for a cure (complete bed-rest while simultaneously breathing fresh mountain air) led to a new building type. The architectural fashions of the day were modified to incorporate oversized porches so that living could take place as close as possible to the out-of-doors.  

As word got out in the cities, the masses who were suffering from TB came up to Saranac Lake and cured in large sanatorium buildings such as the sprawling campus that Trudeau developed.

Campus of Sanatorium buildings, Saranac Lake

Blankets and fur hats are piled on while taking the Cure during winter

The Will Rogers Memorial Hospital, built by the National Vaudeville Artists Association, was built for entertainment industry patrons with bays of deep sleeping porches, large dining and entertainment halls, and a nightclub.

Will Rogers Memorial Hospital

People with the means built their own houses with curing porches throughout the town. At the top of a long slight rise just above the village, a neighborhood called Highland Park was developed.  This exclusive curing neighborhood of 17 gracious single family homes was built primarily between 1906 and 1910.

While the setting of Highland Park initially had views out over the river that wound through town and the newly clear-cut forests, 100+ years of new growth and the distinctive forces of the Adirondack elements have mellowed the neighborhood into a forested wonderland. It is dotted with brooding roofs, generous dappled-light porches, diamond-paned windows, and moss and fern covered terraces.

Highland Manor with its gardens in 1910, a Tudor Revival Cure Cottage

Highland Manor in 2017

Although the developer wanted this to be an exclusive neighborhood (large lots and no house was to cost less than $2500.00), he was not choosy about style. Throughout Highland Park you'll see American Craftsman, Shingle Style, Mediterranean Revival, Colonial Revival, Dutch Colonial Revival, and Tudor Revival homes.

The Thomas Bailey Aldrich Cottage from 1902, known locally as "The Porcupine"

This house and many others in Highland Park were designed by the Architect William L. Coulter, who also designed a number of Great Camps including the Knollwood Club on Lower Saranac Lake. 

A Dutch Colonial Revival house

The Elwood Wilson Cottage, note the large double-story screened porches on the left

Highland Park remains with all 17 original homes intact. It serves as a historic district for the early twentieth century residential neighborhood, and is a great place to walk through to see numerous examples of the popular revival styles.