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Saranac Lake — August 1925

September 1, 2012
By HOWARD RILEY ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

When I find old copies of the Enterprise, as I did today (Aug. 27), in the archives of the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library, it reminds me of that old saw (as in proverb), "The more things change, the more they stay the same," or something like that especially about village board business.

When I read about the village board seeking more cooperation from the Harrietstown board well, for some reason there has always been a little friction in that political arena. Shortly after I was appointed mayor in 1962, because Mayor John Campion had become postmaster, I appointed Frank Ratigan, a former mayor, to take my trustee seat.

One of the first things I did as mayor, wanting to show that I was a good and smart fellow, was to invite Supervisor Bill Mansion and the town board to a village board meeting to discuss mutual interests; Ratigan got into a helluva fight with Mansion, provoked by Ratigan as I recall, and that was the end of my career as a high-profile negotiator.

Article Photos


Special election for paving

"The Enterprise, August 26, 1925 - The year 1925 bids fair to go on record as the year of Special Elections for Saranac Lake.

"The fifth such election to he held here since January first will take place on Saturday, September 5, when the taxpayers of the village will pass on propositions for the paving of five streets in a $79,500 paving program for which the village will pay one-third of the cost. The streets to be paved with reinforced concrete were parts of Shepard Avenue and Helen; Winona Avenue form Lake Flower Avenue to Dorchester Road; East Pine street from Pine Street to Moody Pond; Dorsey Street from Broadway to Lake Street and Forest Hill Avenue from East Pine Street to the end."

(The story never reveals who pays the other two-thirds of the paving; and if you didn't get your neighbors to vote for your street you could lose out because, although only one proposition was on the ballot, it was divided into five parts, one for each street, to be voted on separately.)


Worst fire in village history

"The worst and only fire tragedy of its kind in the history of the village was at 105 Broadway on July 4th, 1925 when seven people lost their lives" - a quote in that same copy of the Enterprise on August 26, 1925, in a story about repairs to the damaged building.

"A temporary injunction issued by County Judge Frederick G. Paddock was served on John J. Murphy ordering discontinuance of the repair and reconstruction of the three-story frame building at 105 Broadway (point of reference: 117 Broadway is the Adirondack Tire Company) damaged by the fire of July 4th. The injunction sets Monday, September 2, as the day for the hearing.

"The action is based on the amended village ordinance relating to fire limits, as adopted on March 6, 1923, and on the refusal of the village board to issue a building permit. Plans were submitted by Mr. Murphy, and the permit was refused on the ground that the proposed construction did not comply with the following ordinance:

" 'No persons shall construct, rebuild, remodel or add to any wooden building within the limits hereinafter described unless, when so constructed, rebuilt, remodeled, or added to, the entire exterior walls, roof surfaces and cornices of such building be of fire proof materials or materials not liable to take fire.'


Notified owner

"In refusing this permit, the board of trustees also caused a notice to be served on Mr. Murphy notifying him of the refusal and enclosing a copy of the ordinance and that they intend to insist upon full compliance with the law.

"Following this action work on the reconstruction of the building was started, and during the past week much of the interior damage has been replaced, and work has been started on the exterior (apparently following Murphy's Law).

"Mr. Murphy is understood to be equally firm in his purpose to rebuild the block with frame construction, taking the stand that other building reconstruction has been permitted in instances where the fire damage was no less than that to his building.

"A coroner's inquest on the circumstances surrounding the fire is still pending, having been postponed to await the recovery of Mrs. George Dukett, who was badly burned before she jumped to safety from the building and whose testimony is considered of importance.

"Mrs. Dukett was discharged several days ago from the Saranac Lake General Hospital, where she was under medical care for six weeks following the fire, and is now understood to be sufficiently recovered to give testimony."


(continued next week)



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