HSL board allocates estate gift to endowment

Lorraine Kelley, Penny Curran, Ruth Chasolen, Jim Griebsch, and Priscilla Goss, members of the Historic Saranac Lake Board of Directors, and Amy Catania, Historic Saranac Lake's executive director, at a recent exhibit opening.

Planning for the future is important. So when Historic Saranac Lake’s general fund received a recent estate gift, the organization’s Board of Directors decided to allocate the majority of it to an endowment fund at ACT.

HSL is one of more than 50 nonprofit organizations in the Adirondack region that has established an endowment fund at ACT to support their independence, quality and continuity in the region. In Spring 2013, HSL made a decision that underlines that commitment to the future.

“We have a multitude of projects going and many more things we’d like to do, so it would be easy to spend the money now,” said Priscilla Goss, president of HSL’s Board of Directors. “But the board has decided that building the endowment fund is a priority, and we know that putting aside funds now will pay off later.”

The gift came from the estate of Florence Mulhern, a good friend of HSL who passed away in 2011. Mrs. Mulhern was treated for tuberculosis at the Trudeau Sanatorium in the early 1950s and wrote a book based on her experiences, The Last Lambs on the Mountain. HSL staff helped Mrs. Mulhern with research for the book, and in 2010 she came to Saranac Lake for a well-received book signing.

“Dedicating Florence’s gift to the endowment at ACT feels like the right thing to do,” HSL Executive Director Amy Catania said. “It ensures that her gift lasts as a legacy, supporting our work into the future.”

The gift to HSL’s endowment fund at ACT raises the balance to more than $54,000.

In 2013, HSL’s fund also received a gift from Henry Parnass in memory of his late wife Barbara, a champion of local history and one of the organization’s founding members in 1980.

“Henry let me know his intentions of making the donation and asked what our needs were,” Catania said. “His preference was to put it toward the endowment, but he wanted us to decide what we needed. At the time, we were in the midst of fundraising for a new boiler system, and we thought we might have to use it for that. However, we worked hard to raise the money we needed for the project, and so we were able to honor Barbara by dedicating the gift to the ACT fund.” (One of the donations for the boiler project came in the form of a grant from the Evergreen Fund at ACT.)

“It’s part of an overall fundraising strategy that takes the long view,” Catania added. “I think our mission, to look back into history, helps give us this long perspective into the future. We want to be here interpreting Saranac Lake history 100 years from now, and we are grateful to have supporters that share that view with us.”

“Endowment funds at ACT show a real commitment to the community,” said Cali Brooks, ACT’s executive director. “Organizations like HSL will be in a stronger position to continue their mission and serve the community.”

Founded in 1980, HSL is a nonprofit architectural preservation organization that captures and presents local history from their center at the Saranac Laboratory Museum on Church Street in Saranac Lake. Built in 1894, the Saranac Laboratory was the first lab in the country created solely for the study of tuberculosis. Today, it is open with museum exhibits on science, patient care and local history.

In 1980, HSL nominated and listed over 170 resources to the National Register of Historic Places. It has partnered on and administered preservation projects such as the restorations at Union Depot and Bartók Cottage. HSL produces publications and sponsors talks and tours that highlight the lives and architecture of the region. Educational events include a summer music series, walking tours and lectures, and a history day. HSL operates a range of educational outreach programs with local schools including oral history projects, guided tours, in-class presentations, and teacher workshops.