Museum logo

Photo Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Title N.V. A. Sanatorium
Object Name Print, Gelatin Silver
Other number P001541
Description Print, black and white: view of a stone building doorway. A-framed doorway with stones at the bottom and above the door. Stairs lead up a grassy hill to the door.

Written on the back, "N.V.A. Sanatorium / Saranac Lake N.Y. / Scopes & Feustmann Architects."
Date 1928 ca
Collection Photo Collection
Search Terms Saranac Lake
sanitoriums
Catalog Number 2011.004.0075
Notes The Will Rogers Memorial Hospital, was built in 1928-29 as the National Variety Artists Lodge. It was an offshoot of the efforts of the National Vaudeville Association's (NVA) efforts to provide subsidized care to aging and unwell variety performers.
The NVA formed under the leadership of theatre impressario Edward F. Albee after World War I. They started by providing care in a number of different cure cottages at Saranac Lake— the Gonzalez Cottage, the Kennedy Cottage, and the Northwoods Sanatorium. In 1925, they acquired forty acres on the south side of the village, on a hill (part of an esker) called "Spion Kop," where they built a large cottage for their patients. In 1927, the National Variety Artists Fund was created in order to build a larger hospital. They commissioned architect William H. Scopes to design the hospital, which was designed to provide a comfortable, non-institutional environment, believing that such an approach would aid recuperation. The design emphasizes the wooded environment set among the nearby Adirondack mountains and lakes.

The Tudor revival-style building resembles an English country estate or lodge, with private rooms and sleeping porches with common dining and recreation facilities; it was named the National Vaudeville Artists Lodge. It was the last of the large, institutional sanatoria to be built in Saranac Lake.

The rise of the motion picture industry, combined with the effects of the Great Depression, caused a major decline in the audience for vaudeville. In 1935, the NVA transferred the hospital to the newly established Will Rogers Memorial Commission, established after the death of the popular humorist, and broadened its services to all entertainers; funding was provided in part by nation-wide "Will Rogers audience collections". In 1936, the institution was renamed as the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital.

Financial difficulties arose again during World War II, and forced the Hospital to restrict admissions. Funding was solicited from motion picture heads, allowing the institution to continue until 1974, when it was closed.

It was used briefly six years later as a press headquarters for the 1980 XIII Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid. In 1996, the county sold the property to Alpine Adirondack Limited Partnership for $92,500 for renovation as an independent living community, Saranac Village at Will Rogers.

Frame stored in Defunct Labels