Historic Saranac Lake’s Saranac Laboratory museum is re-open, operating under limited hours and strict guidelines in order to keep their patrons and their staff healthy. The museum is the first laboratory in the nation that was built for the study of tuberculosis, showcasing Saranac Lakes history as a community that built a bustling economy around the response to an infectious disease.
Museum staff expects that visitors will find Saranac Lakes history relevant once again in response to COVID-19. The museum is currently open on Thursdays through Saturdays from 10am or 5pm, and visitors are encouraged to check out historicsaranaclake.org for updates.
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. » Continue Reading.
“Hotel Hope”, a new film about the history of Will Rogers Memorial Hospital in Saranac Lake, where tuberculosis victims from the entertainment industry came for treatment, will premiere on Saturday at Saranac Village at Will Rogers.
Historic Saranac Lake contracted with Jim Griebsch to produce the documentary. Will Rogers Memorial Hospital historian Leslie Hoffman and Caroline Welsh, Director Emerita of the Adirondack Museum, both provided research assistance. The film features archival footage and contemporary interviews with former patients and employees of the hospital. » Continue Reading.
On September 29, Historic Saranac Lake was presented an Adirondack Architectural Heritage Award at a luncheon at the Woods Inn in Inlet. The award was granted for the restoration of the Saranac Lake Laboratory as a museum, community space, and organization offices.
“It is a real honor,” Executive Director Amy Catania said in a statement to the press. “Many community members have put in a lot of hard work on the restoration of this special building. Thanks to everyone’s hard work, we are now open as Saranac Lake’s downtown history center, serving thousands of visitors every year from near and far.” » Continue Reading.
In the summer of 1892, the wife of President Benjamin Harrison, Caroline Scott Harrison, became extremely ill. She primarily suffered from tuberculosis, but experienced complications from pleurisy and the accumulation of fluid in her chest. Medical treatment of T. B. at the time mainly amounted to having the patient rest. For this reason, it was felt that a stay in the Adirondacks offered the best chance for restoring the First Lady’s health.
Early in July, the journey from Washington, D.C. to Loon Lake was undertaken, via a special train. The Troy Daily Times dutifully reported on the train’s progress. It arrived in Troy in the wee hours of the morning on July 7, then proceeded to White Creek, Rutland, Vermont, Rouse’s Point, and Malone, reaching the latter place at 10:30 am. There, a crowd that included some local officials met the two-car train, but the President asked that they refrain from cheering, so as not to disturb his sick wife. » Continue Reading.
His work with children’s hospitals convinced Colonel Walter Scott that there might be help for Jessica despite her negative prognosis and seemingly hopeless situation. New and exciting progress had been made, especially by Dr. Russell Hibbs of New York City, whose surgical innovations helped change the face of medicine. Hibbs was the first to perform a spinal fusion, and made great advances in treating tuberculosis of the spine and hip.
At the request of Ferguson’s physicians, Hibbs conducted an evaluation and surprised everyone with his conclusion. Jessica, he said, would benefit from a spinal operation, and might well walk normally following therapy. After all she had been through, the hopeful news was stunning.
Colonel Scott and others encouraged her with best wishes, and in early September 1926, Hibbs performed the operation in New York City. Doctors had worried that Jessica’s weakened physical state might place her in critical condition after surgery. Instead, improvement was seen immediately, and with her usual upbeat outlook, Ferguson went right to work on recovery. » Continue Reading.
Mirror Girl. What an intriguing term. In the past, it has been applied to the prettiest coeds in sororities, cute girls in general, and particularly vain women. But in this case, it addresses one of my favorite historical stories linked to the North Country’s years as a tuberculosis treatment center. The patient was a young woman, Jessica “Jessie” Ferguson, born in 1895 in Mount Pleasant, New York, north of Tarrytown on the Hudson River. Her parents, James and Anna, were both natives of Scotland, a fact that becomes key to the story.
The young girl’s difficulties began in her early twenties when her father died, and Jessica was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the bone, affecting her spine. In 1918, she lost the ability to walk. Doctors placed her in a cast that forced Jessica into a permanent reclining position.
In the early 1920s, Anna Ferguson moved her daughter to Saranac Lake, where they settled into a cottage on Riverside Drive on the shores of Lake Flower. Jessica’s situation was different from most patients, for the majority suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis, which affected the lungs. The vision most of us conjure is of patients on porches to benefit from the fresh air, something Jessica was unable to do. » Continue Reading.
The restored Trudeau Laboratory, at 89 Church Street in Saranac Lake, will open its first museum exhibit Saturday, May 23, “The Great War: World War I in Saranac Lake.”
“The lab” houses the office of Historic Saranac Lake, which curates the new exhibit and has been renovating the 1894 structure for more than a decade. This summer the group will also open to the public the actual laboratory of Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, who did early research into tuberculosis there.
Following are details about the WWI exhibit from Historic Saranac Lake’s press release:
World War I, also known as The Great War, left an indelible mark on the people of Saranac Lake, especially those who served or helped out on the homefront. Many servicemen came home injured or shell shocked, having endured horrific conditions in the trenches. Some of Saranac Lake’s citizens were among the 15 million men who lost their lives in the war.
Servicemen who had contracted tuberculosis came to Saranac Lake for the fresh air cure. One of those men was original hall-of-fame pitcher Christy Matthewson. Another was John Baxter Black, for whom the addition to the Saranac Laboratory was named in 1928.
Historic Saranac Lake worked with designer Karen Davidson of Lake Placid to create panels that tell the story of how World War I impacted Saranac Lake. A number of panels were acquired thanks to the generosity of Elizabeth McAuliffe and the Windsor Connecticut Historical Society.
Several of the bookcases in the John Black Room will display uniforms and other artifacts loaned for the exhibit from families of local soldiers Ralph Coleman, Dorchester Everett, Elwood Ober, Percy Bristol and Olin Ten Eyck.
Historic Saranac Lake invites families of veterans to share their stories, letters, photographs, or artifacts Saturday. The exhibit will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, and from 2 to 4 p.m. on Memorial Day. It will remain open to the public through the summer months. Historic Saranac Lake requests a $5 donation to help defray costs for the exhibit.
The “Great War” Exhibit is a lead-in to the opening of Saranac Laboratory Museum this summer. On July 18, the new exhibit “125 Years of Science” will open in cooperation with the Adirondack Museum and Trudeau Institute.
For more information contact Amy Catania, program manager, (518) 891-4606, [email protected]
Photo: WWI officer John Baxter Black, courtesy of his family.
American Lung Association Founder Honored with New U.S. Postage Stamp
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 12, 2008—As part of its Distinguished Americans series, the U.S. Postal Service released a new 76 cent stamp today that honors Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau (1848-1915), the founder and first president of the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis, the precursor to the American Lung Association. Dr. Trudeau dedicated his life to researching and treating tuberculosis, a highly infectious disease that at one time killed one in seven people in the U.S.
Tuberculosis is also known as the White Plague or TB, and in the late 1800s, doctors did not know its cause, how to treat patients or prevent transmission of the disease. Dr. Trudeau himself contracted TB after caring for his ill brother, and moved to the Adirondacks, where he recovered. There he founded the first research laboratory dedicated to TB and helped patients recover with “open-air” treatments, promoting the treatment and containment of the disease through fresh air, rest, nourishment and a positive attitude. “Dr. Trudeau was a true pioneer who led a public health movement and remained focused on the ideal that we can overcome a disease through coordinated research, education and advocacy,” said Bernadette Toomey, President and CEO, American Lung Association.
Under Dr. Trudeau’s leadership, the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis spearheaded research, launched the first-ever public health campaigns to halt the spread of TB, and fought for the establishment of local public health departments. Ultimately, research breakthroughs led to the first effective drug treatment for TB in the mid-1950s, resulting in a dramatic change in our nation’s public health.
“America has many reasons to celebrate Dr. Trudeau and his contributions to our country,” said Toomey. “The American Lung Association continues to honor his legacy by investing in research on asthma, COPD, lung cancer, TB, and many more lung diseases.”
The stamp bearing Dr. Trudeau’s portrait is the U.S. Postal Service’s 11th issuance in the Distinguished Americans series; it will be a 76-cent stamp, priced for three-ounce First-Class Mail letters. Artist Mark Summers created the portrait on the stamp, based on a photograph of Dr. Trudeau provided by the American Lung Association.
About the American Lung Association: Beginning our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates continue to increase while other leading causes of death have declined. The American Lung Association funds vital research on the causes of and treatments for lung disease. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is “Improving life, one breath at a time.” For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or log on to www.lungusa.org.