Cottage Row Historic District
The Cottage Row Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. Portions of the content on this web page were selected from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
The Cottage Row Historic District extends along the north side of Park Avenue for approximately three blocks from its intersection with Rosemont Avenue to the corner of Catherine Street. It is located adjacent to the Highland Park Historic District, in the central northern portion of the village of Saranac Lake, Franklin County. The Cottage Row Historic District is located on a broad tableland along the south and west shoulder of Mount Pisgah, with the mountain rising behind it and dropping away below Park Avenue.
Twenty-seven contributing buildings are included within the Cottage Row Historic District. The houses are all privately owned, single family residences built between 1900 and 1940, the majority being constructed between 1907 and 1917. The buildings are mostly two to three story, wood frame structures, with gabled or gambrel roofs, dormers, and wood siding or shingles, with the notable exceptions of the stucco and half-timbered facades on numbers 52, 84, 90 and 96 Park Avenue.
Most of the residences within the Cottage Row Historic District were operated as commercial private tuberculosis sanatoria, incorporating architectural features typical of the cure cottage, including second story sleeping porches enclosed with sliding glass panels, extra wide doorways, and call bell systems. Most of the houses have been converted to multiple unit residences.
Cottage Row is architecturally significant as an intact residential neighborhood containing the best known and most densely built up concentration of structures built for the purposes of curing in the village of Saranac Lake. Every house within the boundaries of the Cottage Row Historic District housed tuberculous patients for profit at some point in its history. The buildings range in size and operation from single family homes with curing facilities for a single family member or lodger to full scale private commercial cure sanatoria that housed as many as 25 patients at a time.
The Cottage Row Historic District was originally farmland inherited by the descendants of Pliny Miller and Colonel Milote Baker. In 1896, Calvin Brown subdivided about fifteen acres of his land to the east and north of Rosemont and Margaret Streets to create 47 "villa sites." The portion of Park Avenue from #28 to #40, north of the intersection of Baker Street, lies on Calvin Brown's land.
The remainder of the Cottage Row Historic District lies on what once was Ensine Miller's hop farm, which extended for more than eighty acres across the tableland on the side of Mount Pisgah. Miller's widow, Julia Miller, subdivided the lower portion of the farm in 1893, and by 1906 prepared a plan for the subdivision of the acres north of the original sites.
The first houses in the area were built in the earlier subdivision of Brown's land. The Sageman Cottage, 32 Park Avenue, was built for William H. Moore between 1901 and 1904 with the small Bartok Cottage, 30 Park Avenue, added to the rear of the property in 1905. Nearby, Willard Raymond and Josephine Raymond built the small cabin to the rear of 38 Park Avenue and lived there while constructing the larger house in front. Both Raymonds had died by 1904. The property was purchased by Emma Carr who operated a cure cottage on the site. She moved the original cabin to the rear of the property in 1910 and constructed 40 Park Avenue as an annex to expand her curing facilities.
The subdivision of Julia Miller's land in 1906 began the process of filling in the once open fields between these houses and Catherine Street. Local architects William H. Scopes and Maurice M. Feustmann purchased a large block of the Miller land bounded by Park Avenue, Catherine, Baker and Little Baker Streets in 1907 and began to develop it themselves. By 1910, they had designed and built houses at numbers 84, 86, 90 and 96 Park Avenue, as well as Feustmann's own home just behind 96 Park Avenue at 28 Catherine Street. All incorporated cure porches and other curing features into the original design.
By 1917, the majority of the buildings within the Cottage Row Historic District had been constructed. Like the Scopes and Feustmann houses, the house of Jay Davis, at 62 Park Avenue (built by 1915) and the Louis Y. Clark house, 70 Park Avenue (ca.1910) were built for a single family with only one or two tuberculous family members or lodgers. Most of the other houses were already in use as commercial sanatoria. The Carr Annex at 40 Park Avenue made it possible for Mrs. Carr to take in up to seven patients for nursing or boarding care. The Leonard Cottage, 54 Park Avenue (before 1915), the Arthur Arms Cottage, 72 Park Avenue (ca.1910), and the Beattie Cottage, 76 Park Avenue (1910) all had porch accommodations for fewer than seven patients.
The conclusion of World War I brought hundreds of new tuberculous patients to Saranac Lake and cure cottages throughout the village were expanded to make room for them. Through the 1920s and into the 1930s, three more large scale sanatoria were constructed on Cottage Row, while the other houses had new wings, floors, and banks of sleeping porches added to accommodate tuberculosis curing.
The Smithwick Cottage, 60 Park Avenue (1918), was reportedly the first cottage in Saranac Lake designed and built expressly for the purpose of use as a private commercial sanatorium. George Schrader, the architect, incorporated the latest curing features into his design, including integral full facade sleeping porches, and doors and halls wide enough for moving bedridden patients.
Sometime in the early 1920s, Anna B. Richards and her husband built the Richards Cottage, 72 Park Avenue, which was providing board and nursing care to eighteen patients by 1925. Their needs were met by three nurses, two maids, a cook and a houseman who also lived on the premises. By 1935, the cottage offered ambulatory and some nursing care to twenty-two patients.
In the early twentieth century (ca.1918), Edgar T. Coleman built the cure cottage at 80 Park Avenue. Today, that building is the largest surviving example of a commercial private sanatorium designed and built as single unit, with all of its porches integrated into the original design concept. The cottage could house as many as twenty-five tuberculous patients on eighteen spacious sleeping porches built in six groups of three floors each.
In its early years, 80 Park Avenue was a cure cottage for the National Vaudeville Artists, offering curing facilities for all NVA members who worked in the entertainment community, either on stage or behind the lights. In the 1930, after the NVA built the Will Rogers Sanatorium (National Register Listed: 1983) and consolidated their patients in a single facility, 80 Park Avenue was operated by Alfredo Gonzalez for Spanish-speaking patients. Manuel Luis Quezon, the first elected president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines (1935), died here in 1944, one of the many tuberculous patients who did not survive the disease.
Other cottages also catered to specific cultural, religious or union groups. At least seven cure cottages had contracts with the Veterans Administration to provide curing facilities for American veterans, many of whom had contracted the disease or been diagnosed with it while in the service. They could stay in the Sageman Cottage, 32 Park Avenue, the Carr Cottages at numbers 38 and 40 Park Avenue, or the cottages located at numbers 52, 54, 56, 74 or 84 Park Avenue. Around 1935 the Jacobson Jewish Cottage at 54 Park Avenue provided a kosher environment.
In the decades when tuberculosis curing was at its peak in Saranac Lake, the private sanatoria on Cottage Row were operated by nurses. Ruth Collins, head nurse in the infirmary at Adirondack Cottage Sanatorium, first took in patients in 1910 at the Turner Cottage (96 Park Avenue). The following year, she moved to the cottage at 74 Park Avenue. In 1912, she moved next door to 76 Park Avenue, where she provided nursing care until about 1920.
Sam Edelman and Mary Edelman operated the cottage at 32 Park Avenue from 1911 to 1923, when they moved their family across town and sold the property to Margaret Sageman, who continued to operate the cottage.
Mrs. Emma Carr first took in patients while her husband was dying of tuberculous at their home at 104 Main Street. In 1904 she relocated to the house at 38 Park Avenue, where she continued to care for patients. She also built and operated the Annex next door at 40 Park Avenue.
Another multiple site cure cottage complex was operated by Mrs. William Beattie at the houses at 74 and 76 Park Avenue in the 1920s. The two houses were connected by a one story enclosed walkway with the kitchen at 76 Park Avenue, which served the patients of both buildings. The Beattie Cottages provided a total of fourteen rooms ranging in price from $25.65. Only nurses seemed to stay at 76 Park Avenue, and in the 1930s two nurses, former patients, took over the management of the Beattie Cottages.
Most of the remaining structures in Cottage Row retain their original curing features and architectural detail. It is the strongest concentration of large scale private commercial cure cottages in the village. The Cottage Row Historic District retains a strikingly high degree of integrity of setting, location, materials, and design.
Forrest B. Ames, Health Survey map of village, 1917.
Gallos, Philip L. Cure Cottages of Saranac Lake: Architecture and History of a Pioneer Health Resort, Saranac Lake, NY: Historic Saranac Lake, 1985.
New York State Census, 1915, 1925.
Saranac Lake Directories, 1923.
Saranac Lake Association of Private Sanatoria records.
TB Society blue card.