December 27, 2013

Historic hotel renovation starts

Interior redesign will be based on original

SARANAC LAKE — The new owners of the Hotel Saranac have started its renovation.

Fred Roedel III recently began meeting with designers and organizing demolition in a project that will put some $13 million into restoration of the iconic downtown building.

Standing six stories of brick tall, the Hotel Saranac was built in 1927. It is counted as a Historic Hotel of America, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“We are going to architecturally, historically redesign it,” Roedel said, standing under ceilings cracked and stained with water damage.

“Plaster doesn’t hold up well without heat,” he said, looking up.

Ceilings in the first-floor entryway and office rooms and in the large ballrooms upstairs all have evidence of pipes leaking from floors above.


Viewed from the front entryway, the hotel seems stripped of a former warmth and glory.

The previous owners removed most of the wall decorations before the property changed hands, leaving bits of uneven holiday garland draped over doorways. A random, unfurled tube of Christmas wrapping paper leaned against the old brass letterbox set idly near the middle of the room.

“It’s a great building,” Roedel said. “It has what we call ‘good bones.’ These are all issues we can fix.”

Empty boxes and bare stands for fliers stood sentinel in a littered front room. The wide wooden check-in desk with elegantly carved corners was lined neatly with various sets of keys.

The desk isn’t staying, Roedel said.

“It was built by Paul Smith’s College. The original hotel had an arcade entry with individual shops and stores on both sides.”

That feature, bringing pieces of downtown commerce inside, will return.


Roedel has the original hotel plans and is working from them toward what looks to be an accurate renovation.

“We are getting photos from the historic folks,” he said. “They have been really helpful.”

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