Lake Saranac ~ New York ~ Roberts Block ~ 77 - 79 Main Street
Year built: 1900
Immediately after purchasing the northern part of the Annie Miller Homestead Lot, William F. Roberts built what has become one of Saranac Lake's favorite buildings. The Roberts Block, at 80 Main Street, better known as the Finnigan Building for its owners of the past 58 years, was completed in 1900.
William Roberts was a real estate dealer ("renting cottages a specialty"), an insurance agent (Equitable Life), a "notary public with seal", and an operator of an "intelligence bureau", according to signs that adorned his new building.
Other early occupants were: Dr. J.B. Besant, "surgeon-dentist" prior to 1907; Dr. Pattinson, dentist, George Schrader, architect, and "Miss Nettles", dressmaker, in 1910; and Franklin Real Estate in 1915.
Perhaps from the beginning but certainly prior to 1907, A. Bruzza Confectionary occupied the ground floor storefront. This business is remembered well today by older residents for its marble tables and counters, its baskets of fruit, its ice cream and candy, and its stalks of bananas hanging in the windows — sweet memories for children in their seventies and eighties. Three steps up to the raised floor took the hungry youngster into this hall of delights.
In November, 1904, Roberts sold the building to Frank H. McKee who continued to lease office space to the former owner and the store to the Italian confectioners. In 1917, he signed a renewal of the lease agreement with Antonio Bruzza for the period of May 1, 1918 to June 1, 1923, for $100 per month. However, 21 days after the new lease took effect, McKee sold the property to Thomas F. Finnigan.
Lake Placid News, August 31, 1923
The new landlord was a partner in C.J. Carey Clothiers-Outfitters across the street. He had formerly been the business manager at Paul Smith's Hotel. Following the death of Paul Smith, Sr., or the "old gentleman" as his employees called him, Finnigan found himself philosophically at odds with Paul's son Phelps; so, he left the latter’s employ to seek his fortune in Franklin, Tennessee, about 18 miles south of Nashville. After a tornado struck the town, Finnigan returned to Saranac Lake, saying, "I've seen people and horses hanging in the trees, and I don't want to see that again."
Finnigan stayed with Carey until the Bruzza lease expired and then remodeled the Roberts Block storefront, lowering the floor to sidewalk level and installing the beautiful cherry fixtures and furnishings that have remained a hallmark of T.F. Finnigan to this day.