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Sagamore Hotel destroyed by fire | Turning Back the Pages

•100 years ago — April 1914•

Sagamore Hotel destroyed by fire

The palatial Sagamore Hotel at Bolton, the largest summer hotel on Lake George and one of the largest in the Adirondacks, was destroyed by fire the morning of April 12, 1914 with a loss estimated at approximately $350,000 and the impression prevails in Bolton that incendiarism is the cause.

It is said that the fire started from the outside and near the dining room on the southeast side of the building, although this could not be definitely learned immediately after the fire.

The fire was discovered about 2:40 o’clock a.m. by J. Wilson Ward and the building was practically destroyed within 40 minutes. Mr. Ward notified the telephone operator who aroused all the men in the village. A bucket brigade was formed, but the flames had gained such a great start that it was impossible to save the building or any of the contents. The fire spread rapidly from the middle of the structure and at 4 o’clock, all that was left of the once famous hostelry were the smouldering embers. The laundry and the boiler room were saved, as were the stables and the six cottages on the property.

S.G. Finkle, the caretaker, was in Schenectady when the tragedy occurred and could offer no explanation as to the probably cause of the conflagration. The fire was a spectacular one, throwing a reflection into the sky which could plainly be seen in Glens Falls.

The Sagamore was a three-story wooden building and contained 350 rooms. Many improvements had been made during the winter. About $800 was spent to repaint the structure and about $2,000 was expended on the dock. Fire escapes and other improvements were also made.

The hotel, which was built 21 years ago (1893) to replace the old Sagamore Hotel, was one of the most popular on the “Queen of American Lakes” and was generally filled to capacity during the season. The hotel was owned by the Green Island Improvement Co.. John Boulton Simpson of New York is the heaviest stockholder. The hotel was managed by T. Edmund Krumbholz who had not yet arrived from New Jersey to prepare for the opening season that was to occur June 1, 1914. The loss is covered by insurance to the extent of $150,000. The furniture destroyed in the hotel included furniture owned by persons who passed the summer in the hotel. The general impression at this time is that the building will not be rebuilt and has passed out of existence for all time. (Note: The first Sagamore Hotel was opened in 1883 close to the Lake George shore on Green Island and was an immediate success, attracting the wealthy and famous from all over the world. Investors built their own cottages on the island. Ten years later, June 27, 1893, the hotel burned leaving all the luxury and beauty in a smoking ruins. Work on Sagamore II began immediately and it emerged bigger and better. This hotel survived until the great fire of 1914, described herein, with a staggering loss of over $350,000. Some believed that the cause was arson and others believed that the cause was careless smoking. The investors were adamant and after a long quest for money to rebuild, Sagamore III finally opened its doors to the public on July 1, 1930. It survives today, alive and well, on Green Island in Bolton, with mirrored walls and sparkling chandeliers, the gleaming white massive pillars shining in the sun and the building glowing with innumerable lights in the night, a breathtaking sight to behold.)

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