About Presidents Cleveland and Coolidge

This little piece of paradise has probably had more visits by U.S. Presidents that any other place in the countryFranklin and Teddy Roosevelt, Hoover, Harrison, Cleveland, Coolidge, Wilson, Nixon, Bush and Clinton and these I name from memory, so there may be many more. Paul Smith’s Hotel on St. Regis Lake was the destination for those who were President in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

This President thing was all prompted by news that Historic Saranac Lake will host a celebration and tour at White Pine Camp next September. It has always been known as the Summer White House and is located on Osgood Lake, now more commonly referred to as Osgood Pond.

A visit to the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library, (where else?) has given me some great stuff about the Camp.

Prior to a lot of press coverage about President and Mrs. Coolidge arriving at White Pine Camp in July, 1926 the New York Times published a picture page of the camp on May 23, 1926.

An 8-inch-by5-inch photo at the top of the page shows the main living room of the “President’s Vacation Home” with pictures of the lake front and other out buildings and then an interior shot of the “President’s Summer Banquet Hall.” The photo credits went to “Times Wide World Photos”.

White Pine Camp was then owned by Irwin R. Kirkwood, Publisher of the Kansas City Star.

Was the camp named for a man or a tree?

So with all that hoopla about the impending visit of President Coolidge, one John Montgomery, a Staff Correspondent for United Press came up with astory. The Camp was built by Archibald White so was it built of Pine and named White Pine Camp for the builder? Or was it named for the giant White Pines surrounding the Camp? Here is the story by Mr. Montgomery:

“PAUL SMITH’S, July 9 (United Press) Not more than 100 yards from the master cabin of White Pines camp, where President Coolidge is spending the summer is a completely furnished bar, with only the liquor missing. [Prohibition was from 1920 to 1933.]

“It is inside cabin No. 15 of the camp. The cabin has been locked and barred for many years, and the polished bar, once a place of shining rails and sparkling glasses, is now covered with dust and grime.

“Every day the President of the United States passes it on his daily walks about the camp, without giving the building more than a fleeting glance.

“But the President of the United States did not always regard cabin No. 15 so indifferently. Once the President of the United States, Grover Cleveland, spent many hours in its cool interior.

“Cleveland was an intimate friend of Archibald White, builder of the camp, and often slipped away from Washington to fish and rest on Osgood Lake. His visits were by no means as ostentatious as Mr. Coolidge’s, however.

“Old timers relate how President Cleveland would arrive at a nearby railway station alone, carrying a small bag, and ride horseback to the camp where White would be waiting. The black bag, they say, held one clean shirt and collar and Mr. Cleveland’s favorite fishing tackle.

“After fishing all day, White and Cleveland would retire to cabin No. 15 and pass the evening relating fish stories.”

More about Cleveland

Cleveland was the only President of the United States to serve two non-consecutive terms: March 4, 1885 to March 4, 1889 and March 4, 1893 to March 4, 1897. He was named Stephen Grover but the Stephen was never used. He was born in Caldwell, N.J.; the family moved to New York where he later became Mayor of Buffalo and Governor of New York State. He was a lawyer.

He was a huge man, not in height, 5′ 11″, but he weighed 280 pounds. He loved to smoke cigars which apparently gave him cancer on the roof of his mouth and he would consume prodigious amounts of beer.

He and his wife, Frances Folsom, 27 years his junior, were married in the White House. She was an only child, he was one of nine. They had five children. Their daughter Ruth, died of diphtheria at age 13. The candy bar, Baby Ruth, was named for her.

President Cleveland died in 1908, at age 71, in Princeton, N.J.