Lake Placid has a very rich history from the first settler, Elijia Bennet in 1809 to how Lake Placid rose up during the Golden Age of hotels in the 1900’s.
The Adirondack Park was officially formed in 1885. At the turn of the century conservation movements, started by Nelson Rockefeller, really increased interest in people exploring the “wild”. Some other factors that really started driving the people of New York City up north during the summer months were issues like lack of air conditioning accompanied with high temperatures in the city and high infection rates.
The first official hotel was built 1871 by Benjamin Brewster, it was called The Lake Placid House, or also known back then as “Brewsters”. It was located up on Signal Hill right between both Mirror Lake and Lake Placid Lake. Even though the first railway wouldn’t be built until 1894 because of the strong desire to escape the city, travelers came by horse, carriage and even by foot!
Brewster owned the east side of Mirror Lake and his brother-in-law, Joe Nash, owned most of the west side where his first hotel, The Excelsior stood. This was an extremely smart investment, and it didn’t take long for other investors to see that and start buying up land and running their own hotels. The Stevens House and The Grand View were among the most successful.
In 1895 Melvin Dewey and his wife, Annie found The Lake Placid Club on a large patch of land right across from Mirror Lake. The Lake Placid Club is what put Lake Placid on the map as a destination for winter sports. He opened this resort to promote year-round outdoor recreation and even imported winter sports gear from Europe. Dewey and his grandson are responsible for securing the bid to hold the first Olympics in America in Lake Placid for the 1932 Winter Games.