The future Odd Fellows Hall. The Hotel Saranac is under construction, at right. (1926) Adirondack Daily Enterprise, October 25, 2003 Summer Theater at the Odd Fellows ad Adirondack Daily Enterprise, August 20, 1957 Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 20, 1961
Located just east of the Hotel Saranac on what is now a parking lot for the hotel; it is shown as 99 Main Street on the 1924 and 1945 Sanborn Maps, that show the Hotel Saranac at 95 Main Street. The building was built as First United Methodist Church; when they built their new church in 1925 on Church Street, their first church building was sold to the Odd Fellows for $35,000.
Later, the Odd Fellows moved to the Masonic Temple. In 1961, the building was bought by Joan Frank and used as a summer theater until 1963, when she moved her troupe to Lake Placid. The building had seen earlier theatrical use, dating to June, 1952). 1.
Malone Palladium, January 18, 1894
Saranac Lake-Lodge, No. 659, I.O.O.F., has elected the following officers for the ensuing term:—
N. G. — W. A. Denison.
V. G — Henry Shelly.
Secretary — Fred P. Calkins.
Treasurer — George S. Grice.
W. — J. H. Farrington, Jr.
C. — R. W. Hughes.
O. G. — Frank Hatch.
X. G. — A. Fortune.
R. S. N. G. — Jos. Merkel.
L. S. V. G. — Hiram Benham.
R. S. V. G. — K. W. Blumentlml.
L. S. V. G. — A. W. Martin.
R. S. S. — J. N. Smith.
L. S. S. — Fred Colbath.
Lake Placid News, May 2, 1924
ODD FELLOWS STAGE ANNUAL FUN REVUE
Play to Capacity Houses at Both Performances
Declared to be one of the finest program of its kind ever presented in Saranac Lake, the Odd Fellows minstrel show, staged by the local lodge, played to capacity audiences at both performances of it fourth annual fun revue given in the town hall last Wednesday and Thursday. Victor Jordan, Winchester MacDowell, Rov Lobdell and Jack Walker as end men captivated the audience with their sparkling humor, against a foil of Percy E. Miller as interlocutor.
Mr. MacDowell, with his clever presentation of the well known song, "It Ain't Goin' to Rain No Mo'," in which numerous verses were travesties on local subjects and characters, scored one of the hits of the evening, and the enthusiastic audience called for repeated encores. He also featured with his chalk talk in the second part of the program, this unique form or entertainment being well received.
Sharing the honors with Mr. MacDowell was Jack Walker, whose comic song, "Your Mamma's Gonna Slow You Down", also made several repeat verses necessary. "Mindin' My Busi-, ness", sung by Roy Lobdell, which also brought local characters in the limelight, was considered one of the hits of the performance, and waves of merriment swept over the audience at each satire.
Matthew Jones, presenting "At the Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea"
was also very well received, as were tenor solos by Hugo R. Franz, Delbert Oldfield, Joseph Weldon and Peter W. Moe.
Nicholas Acrivlelis, with his musical saw and pitchfork, which has proved a favorite with local audiences, introduced a new novelty in the form of musical glasses on which he performed with considerable skill. Encores for this act brought a number of violin solos which were rendered in masterful style.
Delbert Oldfield and Victor Jordan, in a comedy skit "Me and You", featured some amazing mathematical gymnastics. Roy Lobdell and Jack Walker also presented a number of clever songs in an act billed as "'Friends" the two acts combining to form the "Blackbird Quartette" in the closing number of the program.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, November 15, 1926
Odd Fellows Dance
Plans are being made by the local Odd Fellows lodge, to hold a public dance at the town hall in Bloomingdale on Thursday evening. A program of new and old time square dances is being arranged, similar to the two successful dance given previously this fall by the lodge. Frank Fortune, Alfred Moody, Esmond Winch and P. W. Moe are in charge of the preparations.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 15, 1961
"How Light the Load"
Unscheduled Comedy Saranac Lake's Summer Theater is truly a community project as was proved yesterday when several able bodied men were recruited by Marta Byer and Joan Frank to unload the chairs for the theatre's opening performance on July 3.
Another fine effort was recorded in the theatre's behalf when tile Saranac Lake Fire Department places the advertising banner across Main Street. Miss Byer likes all this attention and the fact that the police channeled traffic during the sign raising made her doubly ecstatic about the cooperative community.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, July 8, 1976
Joan Frank, Tri-Lakes Pied Piper of the arts
By HELEN EDELMAN WARD
LAKE PLACID — "Before the first time I came up to Saranac Lake in 1961 I thought the earth was flat," Joan Frank, managing director of the Lake Placid Center for Music, Drama and Art, said.
But she did not fall off the earth, which she found to be bordered by the Adirondack's and as explorers before her, she established an empire — in this case a cultural oasis.
A native of Amityville, Long Island, Ms. Frank first performed in the North Country in 1960 in summer stock in Schroon Lake. She worked as a singer, actress, comedienne and nightclub performer before taking the reigns offstage as a producer.
The first theatrical enterprise Ms. Frank undertook was the Saranac Lake summer theater next to the Hotel Saranac which she bought in 1961 with Marta Byer and Kenny Prohaska. Prohaska, a building contractor who has since died, was the silent partner; Marta Byer was supposed to be the business manager; and Joan Frank was supposed to act and produce the shows.
While Prohaska kept up his end of the financial arrangement it became obvious, and she admitted, that Ms. Byer had no expertise whatsoever for business details and the entire burden of running the theater fell on the shoulders of Joan Frank. After a weekend crash-course in management from the former owner of the theater, Ms. Frank took over the business end of the partnership and ran everything for three years virtually by herself.
Besides being unable to cope with the business, Ms. Byer apparently had a problem in recognizing talent. One night Ms. Frank was approached by a young waitress in a restaurant in Saranac Lake who asked for "any kind of work — even a walk-on part in a play." While Joan Frank was willing to give the young woman a chance Ms. Byer said she would "not have a waitress on stage."
"That's how we missed discovering Faye Dunaway," Ms. Frank said.
Prohaska's health and Ms. Frank's and Ms. Byer's relationship deteriorated and the partnership finally dissolved in 1963. The Saranac Lake theater closed and Joan Frank and Kenny Prohaska moved their base of operation to Lake Placid to a building now called the Signal Hill Theater, at that time used only for Tuesday night chamber music concerts produced by Mrs. W. Alton Jones, the landlady.
The building had only one electric socket but Ms. Frank started renovations with only $80 in her pocket and optimistic enthusiasm. [The remainder of the article is illegible.]
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, October 25, 2003
TB Nurse Alberta Kenny Bodah with Odd Fellows Hall and St. Luke's Church visible at left, late 1930s/early 1940s. Photo property of Dan Bodah. Unknown woman outside Odd Fellows Hall, late 1930s/early 1940s. Photo property of Dan Bodah.