Sometime in the late 1800’s, the building known today a the waterhole, was built as Saranac Lake Village Livery and Stables. Built with living quarters above the livery was the only one in the area. They rented, shoed, and took care of the fire department’s horses. Saranac Lake got its boom from tuberculosis, when many people migrated to this area to cure in the cold mountain air. Guides were everywhere to take people through the woods and hunt. Ice was cut out of the lakes for refrigeration.
With the advent of the automobiles, the need for a livery died, the downstairs livery became a tire vulcanizing shop, and some say that the 2nd floor turned into a brothel. In the 50’s it became a cafe? known as Mike and Sandy’s. This was an interesting place according to local lore, many parents wouldn’t let there kids near the place, as it had a reputation to attract a diverse crowd from bikers to beatniks.
In 1970 Bill Grogan and friends opened it as The Waterhole #3. Bill chose the name from a 1968 Western, staring James Coburn and Carroll O’Connor. It was very basic, a few beers, a couple bottles of whiskey, dirt floor, and a wooden bar. Fee took over the business a few years later, adding a tile floor, and other amenities. During her term as owner Fred Sullivan filmed “A beer drinkers guide to fitness and film-making,” which showcases downstairs bar.
In the mid eighties, the “godfather” Billy Allen bought the business. As a musician himself he brought music into the bar. Seeing the lack of venues in the area for music, he dreamed of a performing arts center in town. Under his ownership he renovated and expanded the upstairs, removing the apartments, changing it into a music lounge.
Today, the business is known as the waterhole, and the waterholeupstairs music lounge. Its owned by Brenda Stringer.