The new Newberry’s looked awful

The then-new Newberry’s sign looks like a billboard.

The changing face of Saranac Lake is not always for the best. Last week with a review of photos and stories from the Village Centennial (1892-1992), it highlighted some of what we have lost.

Many of the structures burned down, others were torn down, and some were “modernized.” Into the 1960s there were still five hotels downtown; now, thank heavens, we have the historic Hotel Saranac, beautifully restored by the Roedel family.

Thanks again to those who saved the architectural heritage of buildings on Main Street, we were recognized nationally with other small towns by Reader’s Digest for that heritage.

It seems even longer ago to me but Newberry’s was thriving, according to the Enterprise, in 1992, although the parent company was going through a bankruptcy.

Here is a piece of the page 1 story by Kathleen Scott Vaughn:

Newberry’s and Woolworth’s are seen in the 1930s. A 1935 Ford is parked in the front. Ann Foley’s dress shop is at the left. The photo must have been taken near Christmas, showing the garland decorating the lamp post, the store and strung across Main Street. Next door, the present parking lot then housed the grand Linwood Cottage, set back on the lot, with a sweeping lawn up to the front porch. Tucked in the corner next to Charlie Green’s Market was the Brundage Taxi, simply known by the telephone number 17. Later it was Mott’s Pot Shop (down, boy, not that kind of pot), owned by Mott D. Chapin, who made pottery and, if I remember correctly, gave classes in that art. (Photo courtesy of the Saranac Lake Free Library)

“The local J. J. Newberry’s store will not be affected by the filing of its parent company, McCrory Corporation, for protection under the Chapter 11 bankruptcy law.

“Jack Langan, manager of the Saranac Lake Newberry’s store, said the location will not be affected by the filing. ‘We will continue to operate as normal,’ Langan asserted. He said there will be no changes in local personnel and the store will continue to carry the same volume of merchandise.” Mr. Laducer [spelling?] was the manager I remember.

Believe me, I can attest to that volume of merchandise. I worked there when I was in high school in the 1940s. Joyce Duclos, I remember, seemed to manage that inventory as it was delivered to the huge basement.

It must have been a painstaking job to do the inventory. There was jewelry, clothing, furniture and tools; there was a big horseshoe-shaped candy counter right inside one of two sets of double front doors. It was divided into glass bins, selling candy in bulk, with the girl at the counter scooping the candy into white paper bags.

When we were Enterprise newsboys, we would buy a nickel’s worth at a time, which was quite a bit of candy, and most of us went there often, not only for the candy but because a very cute high school senior by the name of Grace Finn worked the candy counter.

The Adirondack National Bank is seen in the 1920s before it was turned into a brick wall. It was once Marine Midland Bank and was most recently Key Bank; now it is vacant. (Photo from the Saranac Lake centennial book)

There was also a long lunch counter where my sister Marguerite worked, where one could buy a nice lunch for 99 cents.

F.W. Woolworth’s

Woolworth’s, another five and dime store, as they were known, was practically attached to Newberry’s. However, as one can see in the picture, the stores had then evolved to 5-, 10- and 25-cent stores.

The manager at Woolworth’s in the 1940s was John Sprague from Bloomingdale. He was a tall, handsome guy, nice personality and always in a suit and tie.

Mrs. Newberry

Just ask my friend and fellow Enterprise reporter J. Ripley “Rip” Allen, and he will verify that Mrs. C.T. Newberry founded the Lake Placid Horse Show. It is a huge event, and it seems that Mrs. Newberry doesn’t get much credit as its founder.

Sometime in the 1960s, Rip and I and other reporters were invited to dinner at her farm in AuSable Forks to tell us about her idea for the horse show. She had built a big riding arena at the farm for her equestrian daughter. I also remembered that she was quite impressed that Rip, as a youngster, belonged to a pony club.

Later I got to know Mrs. Newberry quite well when I was at the Lake Placid Club. She established her horse show headquarters there with some generous cooperation from club owner John Swaim.


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