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Brennan wins historic Saranac Lake Cure Chair

SARANAC LAKE The fourth Saranac Lake Cure Chair sponsored by Historic Saranac Lake was raffled off on Dec. 1 at the Sparkle Village Crafts Fair. The winner was Mike Brennan, and the chair was delivered to his home that afternoon. Jason Brill acted as emcee, and Cindy Boyer, picked at random from among the attendees, drew the winning ticket.This year's chair, with Adirondack style upholstery fabric, was created by Ed and Barbara Scharmer in memory of Julie Lamy, Historic Saranac Lake Board member and avid volunteer who died in March, 2007. The Saranac Lake Free Library, Post Office Pharmacy, Books & Baskets, and Mark Kurtz Photography hosted the chair and sold tickets during the summer and fall. The booth at Sparkle Christmas was attended by Sara Bullock, Lorraine Kelley, Jane Carroll and Alix Dame. All proceeds go to support the programs of Historic Saranac Lake, headquartered in the former Saranac Laboratory at 89 Church Street. The Saranac Lake Cure Chairs, originally manufactured in Saranac Lake, were a feature of the fresh-air cure for tuberculosis practiced here from the 1870s well into the 1950s. Ambulatory patients used them to sit out on the village's many porches, where they breathed the fresh, often cold air, in the days before drug treatments for tuberculosis had been developed. They were a technical solution to the problem of discomfort for patients, to induce them to sit out for the long periods the cure required. With the introduction of drug treatment for tuberculosis, the demand for cure chairs quickly vanished. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of them had been found on porches all over the Saranac Lake area, and many of those were destroyed. The wooden parts for the chairs that have been constructed for the Historic Saranac Lake raffles were found in the factory of J. J. OConnell, formerly located at the north end of Depot Street on the west side. After the factory closed, many wooden pieces of the chairs, which had never been assembled, were left in the building. Before the 1980 Winter Olympics, when the building was being converted to a nightclub called the Great American Garage Sale (GAGS), the parts were salvaged by a local resident, who stored them in a cabin in Gabriels. Later, the parts were donated to Historic Saranac Lake, and have been used to build four chairs, raffled over the last few years. The raffle chairs are a slight modification of the originals. As no original metal parts were available, they were custom-made. Wooden slats were substituted for open wire springs, and new foam cushions were made and covered.

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