By Mirror Staff
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
The first hotel on the East Side with television was gutted by fire almost fifty years ago.
The Orchard House opened in 1920. It was owned and operated by Frederick Malcolm, whose family continued to own it for the 43 years of its existence. Frederick Malcom first operated it as a small hotel. In the 1920′s, a 27 room wing and lobby was added. The Malcolms opened a “taproom” in the 1940′s. “Built around a large octagon bar, the taproom and restaurant are paneled in light, natural wood colors, while the chairs are done in red and cream. The dining and bar capacity has been considerably increased to accomodate visitors seeking a place to spend an enjoyable afternoon or evening,” the Lake George Mirror reported. For a time, it was the only hotel on the east side with a liquor license.
Frederick Malcolm’s daughter, Ruth Rossiter, and his son, James Malcolm, oprerated the hotel for most of its existence. A St. Lawrence student named Irving Dempsey was a bell hop. He later became better known as Kirk Douglas. Gorgeous George the wrestler was a prized guest.
The hotel was empty when it caught fire. Lake George accountant David Malcolm, Frederick Malcolm’s grandson, says that even if the hotel had not caught fire, it might not have survived for many years more. Although the east side hotels were preferred by many as more sedate than hotels in the village, the motels that proliferated in the early 50′s threatened both. Fewer people wanted to stay in one hotel for an extended period of time, taking their meals in one place. Like many things, the hotels were the victim of the automobile. People were no longer bound by train and steamboat schedules – they could come and go as they pleased. Which they did.