Books and Bootleggers Event In Saratoga Springs

Hello, friends of Silver Spruce Inn! Maureen Werther, author of “Them That Has. . . The Story of a 1790’s Adirondack House and the People Who Made It Famous,” will host a book signing and sampling of locally distilled bourbons, vodkas and other spirits from small batch distilleries in and around the Adirondacks.

The event will take place this Wednesday, August 2nd at Saratoga CoWorks at 153 Regent Street in Saratoga Springs from 5-7pm. The event is open to the public and, in addition to books and spirits, wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served. Maureen Werther will be available to talk about the genesis of her book and relate some of the amazing stories about the beautiful home that is now known as the Silver Spruce Inn in Schroon Lake, NY.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase. Please come and bring a friend!

Signing Off For the Season at Silver Spruce


Silver SpruceAs we reach the end of another wonderful season at Silver Spruce, we want to thank all of our guests for your continued patronage. We hope the time you spent here was full of exploration, adventure, wonder and – of course – relaxation amidst the natural beauty of the Adirondacks.

With autumn coming to Schroon Lake a little earlier than it does for our neighbors to the south, we are busy raking leaves and cleaning the gardens in preparation for the winter months. Indoors, the fireplace warms our hands and our spirits as the evenings become chillier, a harbinger of things to come this winter.

Although we will be closed for those frosty winter months, we will not be idle. Our plans include travel, visiting with family and friends and, of course, getting ready for re-opening the Inn next Spring. We invite you all to check in with us during the Fall and Winter, as we prepare to publish a book about Silver Spruce called Them That Has by local author, Maureen Werther.

The book is an informal history of the home that we now call The Silver Spruce, from the time of its construction in the 1790s, through the next 200 plus years. The changes this old house has undergone, the scenes it has been silent witness to, and the people who lived their lives here are stories that anyone who loves the Adirondacks will thoroughly enjoy reading about.

We are planning our official launch of Them That Has next spring, with a reception and book signing right here at Silver Spruce. Be watching on our website for more updates and information throughout the winter.

Again, thank you for sharing our wonderful bed and breakfast with us. We wish you a safe, healthy and happy winter season, and we look forward to seeing all of you in 2017.



The Silver Spruce Inn & Prohibition Years…What the Chauffeur Saw

Dining RoomoFor those of you who’ve been following us, you already know I’m writing a book about the best B&B in Schroon Lake – or maybe even all of the Adirondacks! The Silver Spruce Inn wasn’t always an Inn. The original structure was built in the 1790’s and was a plain looking two-story structure with a roofed front porch spanning the entire length of the house.
My preliminary research on the history of the home’s inhabitants indicates that they were mostly “average” people for the times, financially. As with most families, they had lots of children and they were probably engaged in farming of some sort.
By the time Sallie Miller Smith bought the home in the mid-late 1920s, it was in considerable disrepair. The family living there at the time were “dirt poor,” and consisted of a father who did not work at all, a wife who seemed to be always pregnant, and a gaggle of children who didn’t attend school, largely because the townspeople felt, since the father never paid taxes, his children should not be allowed to attend school.
When Sallie purchased the house, she immediately began work on restoring the original structure, as well as adding an enormous addition on the back. The new section of the house boasted seven bedrooms upstairs, each one with its own full bath, complete with clawed-foot tubs, flushing toilets, bidets, and a corkscrew. I mean, after all, who DOESN’T need a corkscrew in the bath!!
Thousands of dollars were spent on underground pipes made of brass shipped in from Connecticut. Water was piped in from the fresh spring above and behind Sallie’s property, all the way down to the house. When we remember that this was being built during the 1920’s, we realize the scope and cost of the work begin done.
One of the most intriguing things about Sallie’s renovated and expanded home was the “tavern” she constructed on the lower level of the house. You could get to the lower level by descending a long wide staircase that had very low risers – much shorter in height than average staircase risers.
Phyllis Rogers, current owner of Silver Spruce, explained to me that Sallie had a very good reason for keeping the stairs so shallow, instead of building them to more standard specifications.
Because Sallie and her sister, Margaret were big drinkers and partyers, they did not want to injure themselves if they happened to take an intoxicated tumble on the way up or down the stairs!
There are dozens of other stories about the goings on in and around Schroon Lake during Prohibition. The Adirondack region was rife with “rum-runners,” “moonshiners” and bootleggers, and the area offered prime locations for hide-outs, transfers of money for alcohol, and mad dashes to the Canadian border to escape “revenuers.”
Sallie and Margaret had no intentions of letting a little thing like a federal law stop them from gaining access to liquor and they devised several ways to obtain it for their weekly house parties in the tavern.
Guests at Siler Spruce Inn will agree that the “tavern” is a darker, more rustic-looking subterranean space, with an enormous fireplace, beautiful stone walls and wide plank flooring. But, a tavern wouldn’t be a tavern without a bar, would it?
Sallie wasn’t content with just any bar, and something crudely built would never have passed muster with her. According to the chauffeur, who shared his reminiscences with Phyllis before he passed away at the ripe old age of 94, Sallie found a bar in NYC that suited her tastes, and she arranged for it to be purchased, dismantled and transported back up to Schroon Lake.
While none of this information has been corroborated, the chauffeur insisted that this wasn’t just any bar. At the same time Sallie was constructing her Adirondack mansion, the Astor family was selling and dismantling the original Waldorf Astoria Hotel, which was located on 33rd and 5th Avenue, on the property that is now home to the Empire State Building.
Seventeen years before, John Jacob Astor had died tragically on the Titanic. In 1919, his partner, William Waldorf Astor also died, leaving as one of their many legacies what was called the “grandest hotel in the world” at the time.
By 1929, however, the Waldorf hotel had not kept up with the many technological advances that had taken place in the preceding decade, and the hotel was demolished to make way for the construction of the Empire State Building.
The hotel was full of furnishings and other items of value that were sold off as part of the demolition. And, it’s quite likely that, in 1929, dismantling a large, heavy piece of furniture like a hotel bar, wasn’t something that would go unnoticed or unremarked.
Now, since Phyllis was unable to find any records pertaining to the particulars of the bar, she could only take the chauffeur’s word that the bar had come from the original Waldorf Hotel. But, chauffeurs – like butlers and chambermaids – are very often witnesses to a whole lot of interesting things and, if you ask me, my money’s on the chauffeur’s story!
While the story of the bar still remains a bit of a mystery, I’ll keep searching for information. Be sure to check in to see what else I’ve been able to uncover about the mystery. One way or another, Sallie and her sister had quite the bar to “belly up to” during those long, cold winters in the Adirondacks!