William C. Leonard was the son of Marcellus Leonard, a peddler and merchant from Bangor, New York (west of Malone), whose route took him, by horse and wagon, as far south as Saranac Lake. In June, 1895, William's father, invested $1500 in the purchase of a lot at 85 Main Street where William built his first department store building, Leonard's sometime between 1897 and 1900. So successful was this venture that in June, 1905, he bought the lot at 83 Main St., between his store and the Coulter Block. That lot belonged to Annie P. O'Brien, who had bought it from F. A. Isham in 1897. There was another small strip of hers that Leonard wanted as well as pieces and rights-of-way, involving Coulter and Harding, and, finally, the establishment of Coulter's northeast wall as a wall in common. Leonard moved fast. By the time all the documents were drawn up, his second department store building was under construction.
It was also in 1911 that Leonard joined with a group of doctors and businessment to bring about the building of the General Hospital of Saranac Lake.