The History of Mirror Lake Inn
Our history dates back to 1924 when Climena Alford, a native of Lake Placid, married William Rufus Wikoff of Massachusetts. Mr. Wikoff had achieved financial success with his concept of the “Fuller Brush Man,” and in 1926 he retired and the couple moved to Lake Placid. Mr. Wikoff created the Mir-a-Lac Inn out of an old estate and it quickly became known as a high-quality resort attracting very wealthy clientele from all over the state and especially New York City.
In 1932, the Inn was winterized for the Winter Olympics and the Norwegian Team rented the entire Inn. In 1933, Mrs. Wikoff took title to the Inn and its name was changed to Mirror Lake Inn. During World War II, when the Army took over the Lake Placid Club to use it as a rehabilitation center, the Club rented Mirror Lake Inn to house its guests.
Mirror Lake Inn has always been known for sports-related innovations. After alpine skiing was introduced to the area, Mirror Lake Inn set up the first “rope-tow” – powered by electricity – on Dream Hill behind the Inn. In the late 40s, the first snowmaking machine ever seen in this area was purchased by the Inn to ensure proper ski conditions on Dream Hill. Mrs. Wikoff’s father built the first bobsled run; it was originally used for hauling deer out of the woods, down Dream Hill and onto the lake. Mirror Lake Inn was the first in Lake Placid to have a skating camp, housing many future world figure skating champions, such as Dick Button, Toller Cranston, Tab Hunter, Dorothy Ann Nelson, Pieter Kollen and many others.
Parties and contests were big even then. Winter guests went on moonlit cross-country ski excursions and sleigh rides to a cabin in the woods where steak- or flapjack-eating contests or lively dances took place.
Up until 1978, when construction of the new buildings began, Mirror Lake Inn consisted of several private cottages surrounding the main building. One of these was built specifically for Kate Smith in the early 1950s. She and her staff occupied this cottage until her large camp on Lake Placid was completed. In January 1988, the Main Building of Mirror Lake Inn was tragically lost in a fire but was rebuilt that year in the same tradition of genteel elegance for which it is renowned.
Since its inception, Mirror Lake Inn has been known for having the best and most delicious food in town. The Wikoffs had their own vegetable garden (where the Terrace Building now stands) and raised their own pigs and cured their own bacon. They bought only from local farmers, setting up special arrangements to ensure long harvest periods and freshly picked vegetables. Even today, in keeping with this tradition of freshness, Mirror Lake Inn harvests fresh herbs from our own herb garden. The Inn was and still is famous for our Adirondack Flapjacks served with hot maple syrup.
Today the hotel continues under the proprietorship of Ed and Lisa Weibrecht. Good food and warm, hospitable service were a tradition then – they’re still a tradition now.