New life for the sanatorium chapel | News, Sports, Jobs
LAKE SARANAC – The people who are turning the Trudeau Sanatorium property into a 64-acre residential, commercial and event community say the historic Baker Chapel building will soon be available to host weddings, and next month the public will be able to visit 125 – a year old building for the first time since they restored it.
Sanatorium brothers and co-owners Scott and Wayne Zukin, along with Say Real Estate’s real estate agent Brian Draper, discussed their plans from inside the stained-glass sanctuary on Friday.
The non-denominational chapel was never open to the general public, but it was a place of services, prayer, and religious events for people who had healed or had tuberculosis at the sanatorium. Then, when the American Management Association owned the property, it was a wedding venue for AMA employees.
Draper and Amy Catania, executive director of Historic Saranac Lake, said they heard people say their parents or grandparents got married there.
It was an active church for the patients and doctors of the sanatorium, according to Mary Hotaling, co-founder and former executive director of Historic Saranac Lake. She said there were intermittent weekly services with a rotating group of visiting pastors from different denominations. When the sanatorium was fitted with a radio, she said bedridden patients could connect to services from their rooms.
“I imagine that if they thought they were dying, they would come here to pray” Wayne said.
“There must have been a lot of people praying because there was a lot of anguish”, Hotaling said. “A lot of fear, a lot of illness and a lot of pain. “
Dr Edward Livingston Trudeau, who founded the sanatorium as a base for the treatment and research of tuberculosis, was a very religious man, Hotaling said, and a practicing Episcopalian.
“He felt that they needed a chapel for the sake of the patients”, she said.
The rough stone spire rises over the shoulder of Mount Pisgah, with the Baker and McKenzie Mountains towering in front.
The tower bell still rings true and is Wayne’s favorite part to show off. Two quick taps on the heavy rope in the atrium and an instant later the metallic bell of the bell resounds through the mountains.
Inside, the stained-glass windows are lit by daylight. Behind the altar are the original windows depicting Jesus and a cross. Near the entrance is a large tripartite, donated by a former patient in 1924. It represents several family members, Hotaling said, including a small white Scottish terrier.
The chapel received the first cleaning it had seen for a long time in the past two years.
The interior is almost entirely made of natural wood, and the ceilings, beams and walls were covered with wood mold. Scott said the wood was cleaned with oils and lots of “elbow grease.”
The cedar shingle roof has been rehabilitated. The benches have been cleaned of all clutter. The floor where a pipe organ once stood had collapsed due to the weight and rotting of the wood. It had to be stabilized. The organ that was there is now at the Adirondack Experience at Blue Mountain Lake.
The owners are restoring buildings that have not been upgraded for many years, while retaining the original architecture and design. It is a difficult task.
“Brave or crazy” Wayne spoke about their decision to buy the property.
The job was slower than they wanted, Draper said, but it was expected.
“With a project of this size, you cannot go fast” said Draper. “Things take a long time to get them right.”
The coronavirus pandemic is also partly to blame for this, as progress has slowed and material prices have increased over the past year.
But Draper said the work was fulfilling. He wanted to take on the challenge of working on a property with so much potential and work to do.
Wayne visited the property with Catania before it went on sale. He said he fell in love with it at that time, especially the chapel.
“We are more about restoring old things, instead of building new things”, said Draper. “Each building has its own story.
They have all reviewed the history of the campus since they bought it, reading books, wiki pages and talking with Catania.
Canania said she was happy with the work the developers have done in the chapel and is delighted to see her back in service. She said HSL had been concerned about the fate of the sanatorium buildings for some time. AMA has done work to preserve historic structures, she said, but “In the end, vacant buildings don’t last that long in this climate.
The developers have declined to say how much the redevelopment has cost so far, but Scott gave a hint: “A lot.”
They bought the property for $ 2.65 million.
What will there be up there?
Residential buildings along Park Avenue will be primarily long-term rentals, according to the Zukins. There may be short-term rentals if they convert the large administration building, also known as the Dodd building, into a hotel, but Scott said their goal is to rent apartments and houses for the long term.
They already have seven active rentals and plan to open 20 to 30 more. These will be rented at a range of prices, they said – from full mansions to one-bedroom apartments.
Wayne said they have had no problem finding people to hire so far. Units refill as soon as they are completed.
Buildings set back from the street will be used for offices and artist studios, Draper said. AMA will continue to lease space on the property, Adirondack Health has offices there, and Bloomingdale’s Hex and Hop Brewing brews and cans its brand of honey-infused beers in the old stables.
The sanatorium was largely responsible for the growth of Saranac Lake into the population center that it is today.
The sanatorium closed in 1954 and AMA bought it in 1957.
AMA is a non-profit group that provides courses and training materials to organizations, individuals and government agencies. The group has used many buildings on the property over the 64 years of its existence, but recently only used two of the 29 buildings on the property.
AMA sold the property in 2019 to Sue Smith, wife of Zukins and Wayne, of Philadelphia, who purchased the land under Cure Cottage Development Company.
Draper helped facilitate the sale and was involved in the development of the property.
In 1995, Historic Saranac Lake helped get the property listed on state and national registers of historic places, making it eligible for preservation tax credits.
There will be two open house tours of Baker Chapel on November 6th. One from 10 a.m. to noon and another from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
If you are going to
What: Self-guided tour of Baker’s Chapel at Trudeau Sanatorium
When: November 6. First visit from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and another from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Baker Memorial Chapel on Park Avenue