Building the Saranac Lake Free Library, 1909

Among a folder full of historic Saranac Lake papers, given to me by my friend Greg Peacock, is the original contract for the erection of the first building for the Saranac Lake Free Library on Main Street, completed in January 1910.

Branch and Callanan contractors

The contract to build the library was signed in September 1909 at a price of $6,573. The contract has 13 articles, the architects were Scopes and Feustmann, and the contractors were Branch and Callanan. It was to be completed by Jan. 1, 1910.

The size or style of the building was not described in the contract, but the contract does contain this language: “Drawings and specifications are identified by the signatures of the parties hereto, and become hereby a part of this contract.” Of course, those specs were not with the contract, but it reads in part: “The Contractor shall and will provide all the materials and perform all the work for the construction of the library building on Main Street, Saranac Lake, N.Y., including excavating, masonry, carpentry, painting, tinning, plastering, etc.”

The contract was signed by A.S. Branch for the contractors. George V.W. Duryee signed as president of the library, and Ernest H. Baldwin signed as treasurer of the library. Mr. Duryee had conducted a fund drive for the building and had donated the land for the building. The first paid librarian was William D. McNeil.

Other papers

Also contained in that folder is a “List of Loans, May 1, 1906” for the Adirondack National Bank and in the most elegant handwriting; one loan is listed thusly:

“Aug & Krammer – 3 years from April 24, 1902, $1,750.00 secured by a two-story residence on Washington Street, Beardstown, Ill. Interest 5 per cent.”

There is an interesting agreement/contract when Peter A. S. Haase sold his building at 64 Main St. to the Saranac Lake Federal Savings and Loan Association in 1944 for $20,000. It is the same building that the bank owns today. The property then extended to the river at the rear of the building when that entire parking lot was a rough field of grass. A single-lane road went through that lot, and cars accessed Main Street by those narrow alleys, including the one by Salon Mirage and the alley by the Chinese Restaurant.

A September 1899 deed is also included in the above-mentioned papers given by “Ransom Reynolds and wife,” which is the way the deed reads on the first page. It turns out that the wife is Josephine A. Reynolds, residing in Woodstock, County of Windsor, in Vermont. Mr. Reynolds is listed as living in the town of Harrietstown.

They sold a piece of property on Main Street to Anna L. Brown of New York City for $5,750, which was much earlier part of a 300-acre lot conveyed by John R. Thurman to Pliny Miller. It is difficult to place where the property is located or how big the lot is because it is all in surveyor speak: “beginning in the center of Main Street in the Village of Saranac Lake; thence westerly in a line parallel with said Reuben R. Reynolds south line to the edge of the Saranac River at low water mark” etc., etc. The secretaries who had to do the typing in 1899 were unbelievable. This “indenture” was two typed pages without an error.

Not quite a year later, in August 1900, Anna L. Brown sold a piece of that lot to George F. Baldwin for $2,500, and the deed reads, “by occupation a photographer.” So Ms. Brown got back nearly half of what she paid for the lot. The survey language reads: “Beginning in the north bounds of Main Street in Saranac Lake Village, New York, at an iron pipe driven in the northeast corner of Milo B. Miller’s Meat Market.” So it is only part of the lot she purchased, and it is difficult to tell how much she sold off, but again the deed reads: “This above described lot is thirty-five feet wide between parallel lines.”

Sounds to me like she made a pretty good deal.