Friars of the atonement settle here

When the Franciscan order bought the property in the Glenwood Estates in February, 1939 I am sure they could not imagine what they were creating for the future.

St. Joe’s, as it is affectionately known today, is formally St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment & Recovery Center. The Center is big business for the Saranac Lake region employing 139 people. Under the present leadership of CEO Bob Ross it is constantly expanding and evolving and is always at the cutting edge of that humanitarian effort.

I was privileged to work there briefly in the 1980’s (hesitating to simply say in the 80’s, lest readers would think I meant the 1880’s) with Father Emil, Brother Kevin and Dennis Dwyer. When Dennis slips into his Irish dialect it is difficult to believe that he is not right from the old sod.

On a trip to Albany to see Senator Ron Stafford about funding Father Emil was asked to meet privately with the Senator who had just found out he had cancer. That was probably one of Father’s best counseling sessions; it lasted long into the afternoon. Ron told me later how much it meant to him.

Brother Kevin, who was missing some fingers from a hunting accident when he was a kid, was a charming, bright advocate for the programs at St. Joe’s. We toured the Friars digs in Washington, D.C. and I stayed in one of the little “cells” where the monks lived and studied at the Friars headquarters at Graymoor in Garrison New York.

Standing out on the parapets there at night one could see the lights of New York City spread out below like a giant dioramatalk about a spiritual awakening!

The founding of St. Joe’s

Excerpts from the Enterprise of March 20, 1939.

“Donation of a 16-acre tract of land adjoining the Rumsey estate to the Friars of the Atonement by Harmon S. Auguste, prominent New York stock broker and philanthropist, was announced today. Included with the gift is the modern two-story ‘barn’ located on the land.

“The Franciscan order, which on February 26 announced the purchase of the Rumsey estate and four acres surrounding it from the Saranac Lake Society for the Control of Tuberculosis for the purpose of establishing a preparatory seminary for young men entering the priesthood, now has total holdings of 20 acres of land, the 20-room Rumsey building and the ‘barn’. It is believed that the barn, constructed at an estimated cost of $20,000 with a special cork floor, will be reconstructed into a chapel for the order. The barn is located about 200 yards from the main building.

“In December 1937, Mr. Auguste had deeded the Rumsey estate to the tuberculosis society as a gift but the adjoining tract and the barn were not included in the gift. At that time, Mr. Auguste had also made a gift of $5,000 [today’s value more than $67,000] to the tuberculosis society for the upkeep of the estate.

“Last month the society sold the estate to the Franciscan order for an unannounced price.

“The Friars are not expected to take possession until May 1 with alterations turning the main building into classrooms and dormitories for the students.

“Although summer classes are planned, the regular school session will begin on September 8. Approximately 50 young men between the ages of 18 and 25 will attend the school at first and more to be admitted later. The Rev. Samuel Cummings, S.A. will be principal of the school.

“Graduates of the seminary here will attend the Friars school at Catholic University, Washington, D.C.

“In addition to the students and priests, a group of lay members on the faculty and their families will make their homes in this village.

Local hospital plan adopted

The Enterprise March 20, 1939 “H. C. Stephenson, managing director of the Hospital Plan, Inc., of New York, will arrive here Wednesday to confer with M. M. Feustmann, president of the General Hospital, and other local officials regarding the group hospital plan which was recently adopted by the local hospital board.

“Under the plan, each gainfully employed resident may enroll at a cost of $8.40 annually. The payment may be made quarterly, semi-annually or annually. Any member of the enrollee’s family over age 16 may be enrolled for a sum of $4.80 annually while children will come under the plan for a flat sum of $2.40.

“Benefits will include hospitalization for 21 days the first year and 25 days the second year, meals, general nursing care, customary drugs, laboratory service, operating room fees, delivery room service, care of new born babies and ambulance service within the village.”