Historic Saranac Lake (HSL) will hold its 36th Annual Meeting on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 at 7 pm at the Saranac Laboratory Museum. The meeting will feature a presentation by filmmaker Jim Griebsch of a newly updated version of “Hotel Hope: the Story of Will Rogers Hospital.”
The evening will also feature the unveiling of an artifact donated to HSL by the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation. The meeting is open to members of Historic Saranac Lake and those who are interested in becoming members. Light refreshments will be served.
Historic Saranac Lake contracted with Jim Griebsch to produce the historical film in 2015. Special historian for Will Rogers Memorial Hospital Leslie Hoffman provided research assistance. Caroline Welsh, Director Emerita of the Adirondack Museum, and Art and Museum Consultant, assisted with research and writing. Originally planned to be a short film of under fifteen minutes, the project grew to feature original film footage and contemporary interviews with former patients and employees of the hospital. In 2016, the film was updated with additional footage.
In the spirit of the Will Rogers Foundation, a hat will be passed for donations to support Historic Saranac Lake and the Kollecker Film Project. Led by Griebsch, The Kollecker Film Project includes the digitization of historic films from the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library.
A major grant from the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation supported the production of the film and extensive exhibit renovations made in 2015 at Historic Saranac Lake’s Saranac Laboratory Museum.
Founded in 1980, Historic Saranac Lake is a not-for-profit architectural preservation organization that captures and presents local history from their center at the Saranac Laboratory Museum.
The Will Rogers Memorial Hospital was built in 1928-29 as the National Vaudeville Artists Lodge. It was an offshoot of the efforts of the National Vaudeville Association’s (NVA) efforts to provide subsidized care to aging and unwell variety performers. In 1935, the NVA transferred the hospital to the newly established Will Rogers Memorial Commission, established after the death of the popular humorist, and broadened its services to all entertainers; funding was provided in part by nation-wide “Will Rogers audience collections.” In 1936, the institution was renamed as the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital. The hospital closed in 1974. It now operates as an independent living retirement community — Saranac Village at Will Rogers.
Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation serves as a national charitable health program focused on research of debilitating lung disorders, medical school training fellowships, and distribution of free health education materials to the general public. It also operates the Pioneers Assistance Fund to help individuals from the motion picture community who are encountering an illness, injury, or life-changing event.
Photo: Will Rogers advertisement, courtesy of Leslie Hoffman.