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Brewster Park is now officially Brewster Park

Village rededicates park to Brewster family

Sierra Brewster, center, a descendant of Benjamin Brewster, cuts a ribbon during a ceremony rededicating Brewster Park to the Brewster family in Lake Placid on Wednesday. Looking on from the left are Joe Lamb, Carol Lamb, state Sen. Dan Stec, Karen Fountain, Mayor Art Devlin and Cindy Smith. (Enterprise photo — Lauren Yates)

LAKE PLACID — Lake Placid history came full circle on Wednesday with the official rededication of Brewster Park — which was first named after Benjamin Brewster in the early 1900s — to the Brewster family again.

Lake Placid officials, along with direct descendants of Brewster, gathered in Brewster Park on Wednesday afternoon for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and the reading of a proclamation by village Mayor Art Devlin that formally recognized the park as “Brewster Park” and dedicated it to the Brewster family.

It’s been almost exactly a year since the village board approved the official recognition of the historical Brewster Park name. Former Lake Placid Historian Beverley Reid was the one who brought up the idea of making the name official last year. She said she wanted to present her idea to the board after she saw changes made to the park during Main Street construction.

“I just get so upset when I see all these places being torn down, and history is being wiped out — people are moving and dying and tearing down buildings,” she said in October 2021.

The village’s park renovations — part of the village’s multi-year, multi-million dollar Main Street construction project — included expansion of the park, installation of new granite sidewalks and new bioretention infrastructure to help filter stormwater runoff before it enters Mirror Lake. On Wednesday, Reid said she was happy with how “beautiful” the expanded park ended up being.

The park, located at the intersection of Main Street, Saranac Avenue and Mirror Lake Drive, has been called “Brewster Park” and variations of “One Main Street” interchangeably in the past. Reid and Devlin said the name “One Main Street” most likely referred to the park’s original street number, which was changed when North Elba’s streets were renumbered under the E-911 system in 2004. But Reid said last year that the park was originally called Brewster Park, citing a 1918 article from the Lake Placid News. The Aug. 9 article, titled “Merry Turnout at Beefsteak,” discusses a well-attended beefsteak dinner at Brewster Park where “everybody drank deeply of the balsam laden air and the liquid refreshments.”

Reid said that the history of Brewster Park started with Joe and Tim Nash, who settled in the Lake Placid area in the 1800s. Joe was an ambitious man, according to Reid, and he noticed that hikers, hunters and other recreationists often visited the area but didn’t have a place to stay. Joe built guest rooms as an addition on his father’s cabin for the tourists.

Joe also married Harriet Brewster, Reid said, who was a “terrific cook.” Together, Joe and Harriet started a restaurant at the cabin. But when Harriet’s brother Benjamin saw how lucrative their business was, he decided to buy some land around Lake Placid and build the first-ever hotel in Lake Placid — the Lake Placid Inn.

In the meantime — around 1900, when the town of North Elba originated and the village of Lake Placid was first incorporated — Reid said the area where Brewster Park sits was cleared out and dubbed Brewster Park. She said the park was the “place to be” back then.

“Many, many, many things were held here, according to the Lake Placid News, from strawberry festivals to good ole’ drinkin’ parties,” Reid said Wednesday.

Sierra Brewster cut the white ribbon during Wednesday’s rededication ceremony. She said she’d traced her ancestry back many generations to Benjamin Brewster, and while she didn’t think her family had traveled to the U.S. on the Mayflower, she believed that a Brewster arrived in the country shortly after that initial trip. Sierra and her father, Steve Brewster — who also attended Wednesday’s ceremony — said they’re the last Brewster descendants living in Lake Placid.

While Sierra kept the Brewster name, she said her son’s last name isn’t Brewster. However, his son’s middle name is Brewster. She said she has pictures of her son when he was little standing next to a dedication stone in Brewster Park, which has an inscription dedicated to Benjamin and Joe Nash. Lake Placid resident Douglas Lansing, who’s also related to the Brewsters, said that as soon as he heard about the dedication ceremony, he called Mark Clark from the M.B. Clark, Inc. funeral home and asked him to clean up the stone, which Reid said was installed in the park in the early 1900s. Lansing thought the stone looked well-improved.

State Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, made a surprise appearance at the dedication ceremony after a scheduled visit to the John Brown Farm, where staff with John Brown Lives! were celebrating a $26,500 grant they received from Parks & Trails New York for a strategic planning process. Stec said he’s been following the Main Street construction project closely over the last few years, and he was glad the community opted to revamp and beautify Brewster Park.

“It’s like a postcard,” he said Wednesday.

Just like John Brown Farm, Stec said, Brewster Park isn’t just a beautiful place — it has important historical ties.

“History is so important, we don’t want to lose it,” Stec said. “… I know how important this is to the community. Maybe not so much to the visitor, but the community — this is their own history.”

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