Displaying items by tag: saratoga springs
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Tragedy strikes when least expected, and in the aftermath, many think of how close to home the disaster was. In 2018, a mass shooting at a Parkland Florida high school took the lives of 17 people. One of those people was the daughter of Skidmore College alumnus Fred Guttenberg. On Wednesday, Oct. 16 Guttenberg returned to his alma matter and shared the message of his nonprofit in the name of his daughter, Orange Ribbons for Jaime.
Guttenberg is not a stranger to what many consider to be rare terrorist attacks on American Soil. Seventeen years earlier his brother was a first responder at the World Trade Center 9/11 attack in 2001.
“On Feb 14, 2018, I sent two children to school. That’s all I did. The day started like a normal day in my house,” said Guttenberg.
Since his daughter’s funeral Guttenberg began to talk to his community not only about how tragic that day was, but how preventable that day could’ve been. He’s since spoken with members in legislation to work towards eliminating gun violence in the United States, including working with elected officials to pass Jamie’s Law, which will affect regulations of background checks to potential gun owners.
“This is America today, 40,000 people a year die from gun violence,” said Guttenbrg. “About 23,000 a year injured because of guns…it’s not normal, it’s not okay. My mission is to cut that 40,000 in half by 10 years.”
Here in Saratoga Springs, school safety has become a hot button issue in the past year, with discussions stating how rare such attacks are, and discussions around the varying ways to be prepared. At the end of the event, Guttenberg invited members of the audience to ask questions or provide comments. And much to what may have been a surprise, but more than one person had a comment as to how they have lost someone to gun violence, which was an unfortunate reminder that gun violence and school shootings are not as rare as we would hope.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Patrick Kauth stood atop the lawn at High Rock Park Wednesday morning, trying to encapsulate the thoughts and emotions of the past 18 years into a few poignant words.
“It’s a changed world,” said Kauth, whose childhood years were spent in the classrooms of St. Clement’s and Saratoga Springs High. He grew up in a hockey family, one of four siblings. His dad, Don Kauth, was killed in the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center.
“A loss is a loss and you can’t change time,” said Kauth, who teaches history at the Albany Academy.
It was early in September 2001, when Don Kauth drove his son to Merrimack College in Massachusetts, where Patrick was entering his freshman year.
“He bought me own of those huge Dell desktop computers,” he remembered. “Afterwards we ate dinner and exchanged pleasantries and insults, the way that best friends do, because he was my best friend,” he said. “Then he was off to New York the next morning.” Don Kauth worked as a bank analyst for Keefe, Bruyette & Wood at the World Trade Center.
It was a week or so later when Patrick Kauth joined his new college roommates watching the events of 9/11 take form on the TV.
“I remember thinking that this couldn’t be real. At first, I joined along with them, just sat there, and then after about sixty seconds it clicked: wait a minute. He works there. So, I phoned home. And I heard it in my mom’s voice. She hadn’t heard from him. The communication was very difficult that day, but still, he would have found a way. So, I knew pretty immediately that he was gone. “
Kauth was the keynote speaker at the city’s 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony Wednesday morning at High Rock Park. It is a historic park that has been known to Native Americans for over 5,000 years. In the summer of 2012, it became home to the 25-foot-tall sculpture, titled "Tempered by Memory," which was created out of five twisted pieces of World Trade Center steel. Four of the pieces came from the North Tower - distinguished by the antenna on its roof - and one steel beam came from the South Tower.
The ceremony, held on the 18th anniversary of the attacks, began with a welcome from Raymond F. O’Conor, author and CEO of Saratoga National Bank, and the observance included members of the city police and fire departments and the U.S. Navy. Keri Alonzo sang The National Anthem, Rick and Sharon Bolton provided additional music. Chaplain Sid Gordon, Disabled American Veterans, delivered the Invocation and Benediction.
“The attacks caused the deaths of 2,996 people and the injuries of more than 6,000 others,” said city Mayor Meg Kelly, who recited a series of the numbers that reflected the tragic losses of that day at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, on each of the four planes, and the firefighters, paramedics, police officers and others who were killed responding to the attacks and trying to help others.
“Number of people who lost a spouse or partner in the attacks: 1,609; Estimated number of children who lost a parent: 3,051; Estimated number of New Yorkers suffering from post-traumatic-stress disorder as a result of 9/11: immeasurable,” Mayor Kelly said. “It is with these numbers that we will always mark this horrific day.”
Kauth says the collective stories of the tragic day’s events, as well as visits to The National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York have become as fundamental to him as the battlefields of Saratoga, and Gettysburg, and the museums and the monuments in Washington.
“In particular, it is overwhelmingly emotional listening to our first responders The Day Of - from their own radio correspondence, describing in detail their quickly deteriorating situation and the victims who could not make it out of the stairwell,” Kauth said. “It becomes apparent, pretty quickly, that these heroes knew that they were not making out. That they were going to save as many people before the inevitable collapse.
“I cannot help but think, in awe and with tears streaming down my face, about the bravery and resolve displayed by these firefighters and policemen who wanted nothing else but to just have a chance at saving people like my father,” Kauth said.
“Time does help. I have a family of my own that we’re growing now, and that helps immensely. I love my son more and more each day,” he said, gesturing a few yards away across the park to his wife Shauna, and their 22-month-old son, Oliver.
Asked what he will teach his own son about his father, Kauth said it will be about his dad’s caring for others. “He was a unique guy. A really thoughtful guy who did a lot for the community and for anybody that needed something. So, what I’ll tell my son is that we have to continue to try and live his legacy,” Kauth said. “But you’re never going to have that hole filled up completely.”
City Council will address a series of issues this month that could change the visual landscape of Broadway, enhance the diversity of future political candidates, and alter the directional flow of traffic near the downtown core.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The City Council will address a series of issues this month that could change the visual landscape of Broadway, enhance the diversity of future political candidates, and alter the directional flow of traffic near the downtown core.
On Sept. 2, the council introduced a 44-page lease proposal between the city of Saratoga Springs and the Saratoga Springs City Center Authority. If approved – which could happen by mid-month - the agreement would set into motion the development of a 600-space parking garage project near High Rock Park.
The terms of the lease runs to Dec. 31, 2032 – aligning with the length of the existing lease with the City Center itself, explained City Attorney Vincent DeLeonardis.
Plans call for the City Center Authority to build and subsequently maintain a multi-level, 600-space parking garage atop city owned land, just east of the existing City Center building. “Air rights” for the construction of a so-called pedestrian connector would be included, and bridge the city center with the parking structure, atop Maple Avenue.
The city would receive in return 60 designated parking spaces in the new structure to be used during daytime working hours, as well as 50% of the structure’s excess cash flow. What approximate dollar figure that would equal is “not known at this time,” said DeLeonardis, but is “to be determined by a calculation of the revenues generated minus the debt service and maintenance and operation costs associated with the facility.”
The City Center Authority would also develop an extension of the Green Belt Trail along High Rock Avenue. The city owns approximately 2-1/2-acres of land, currently used for surface parking, that runs from High Rock Park to Lake Avenue, and Maple Avenue to High Rock Avenue, one block east of Broadway. The lease is specific to one portion of that segment – the area of land to the east of the City Center - and only to the development of the parking structure and pedestrian bridge.
A Public Hearing is expected to take place prior to the next City Council meeting, on Tuesday night, Sept. 17. The Council will likely vote on the lease agreement later the same evening. If approved, the development of the parking garage may begin as soon as this fall.
Parking Congestion at Lake Ave School
The council hosted a 45-minute public discussion Sept. 3 to address student safety and residential concerns as it relates to public parking, student parking and school bus transport in the immediate area of the Lake Avenue Elementary School. The school faces Lake Avenue and is bordered by Regent Street and Marion Place. Proposed changes may include altering traffic patterns on some of the neighboring streets. Traffic congestion and the safety of students being dropped off and picked up at the school remains the primary concern. Two public hearings have been held on the matter, and a third is slated to take place Tuesday night, Sept. 17.
Increasing City Council Salaries, Expanding Deputy Residency Requirements to attract Qualified and Diverse Candidates and Appointees
The council staged a Public Hearing regarding a Local Law to amend the City Charter as it relates to terms of office, eligibility and salaries of officers. The law seeks to increase the compensation of the elected City Council members from $14,500 per year to $30,000 annually, beginning on Jan. 1, 2020.
Member salaries have not increased since at least 2001, city Mayor Meg Kelly said. “Consider what $14,500 means per year. My average work week is about 50 hours. That’s $5.58 an hour. Consider that some of us (on the council) work 30 hours – that’s $9.28 an hour.”
Mayor Kelly advised that the Saratoga Springs salary is comparable with that of Mechanicville, which pays its mayor $12,000. “While Mechanicville shares our Commission Form of Government, it only has a population of 5,200 people with limited tax base, tourism, economy, or destination power,” she said, adding that among 14 comparably sized cities, the average salary paid to the mayor is about $44,500.
“We are entering into a new budget season and the time is right for fair and reasonable discussions about these salaries,” Kelly said. “It is more important than ever to attract talented and diverse candidates. To date, our candidate pool has been largely retirees, the affluent, or people who have the luxury of being supported by a partner’s income…this is a nominal increase aimed at a considerable impact on the quality of our governance.”
The council did not vote on the matter related to their own potential salary increases, but did unanimously approve a resolution that proposes an amendment to state law to expand geographical residency requirements for deputies.
Each of the five council members appoints a deputy. According to Public Officers Law, all deputies must reside in the city of Saratoga Springs. The council resolution seeks to expand those geographical boundaries to become county-wide.
The current requirement significantly restricts the number of qualified persons available for the administrative positions, the council says. The expanded boundaries would create an opportunity for council members to seek qualified individuals for positions from anywhere in Saratoga County, and would result in a significant benefit to the public. The proposal seeking an amendment to the existing law will be presented the offices of Sen. Daphne Jordan and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner for submittal to the State Legislature.
City Approves Six-Year Plan Proposal - Eastside Fire/EMS Facility Tagged a Priority
The city’s six-year proposed capital plan, totaling just under $17 million, was unanimously approved Sept. 3 by the council in a 4-0 vote. Public Safety Commissioner Peter Martin was not present at the meeting.
The plan ranks 36 city projects according to importance with the highest proposed ticketed item being an Eastside Fire/EMS Facility. The city currently has two stations – one just off Broadway and one on the west side. The potential of an east side facility has been discussed for several years. At present, no land where the station would specifically be sited has been determined. The fire/ems station ranks third highest in order of importance.
The six-year Capital plan is updated annually and varies in accordance with changing priorities and budgetary fluctuations. The city’s Comprehensive Budget is presented annually in late fall.
All photos by SuperSource Media.
A Farewell Kiss to Saratoga in a Blaze of Pyrotechnics
and a Birthday Party for ‘The Demon’
SARATOGA SPRINGS — As the clock inched closer to midnight on Aug. 24, Gene Simmons was serenaded by several thousand of his closest Saratoga friends with a group sing of “Happy Birthday,” celebrating the conclusion of the bassists’ 70th year on earth.
Simmons and bandmate Paul Stanley – two of the four founding members of Kiss – performed Saturday night at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, in what is anticipated as the group’s final regional appearance. The group had performed at the same venue while on their “Farewell Tour” in 2000.This time around, it’s the “End of The Road Tour,” which is ultimately expected to conclude at the end of the calendar year.
Saturday night, the band emerged atop the stage alongside a fury of bombastic explosions, heat-bearing flames and a slew of pointed laser beams, opening with “Detroit Rock City.”
Overall, the 20-song set took mightily from the group’s early years, with a dozen titles dating to the 1970s, including a trio - “Deuce,” “Cold Gin,” and “Black Diamond” released on Kiss’ 1974 debut album. More than 46 years have passed since the band first performed on stage, which took place at a club on Queens Boulevard on a January night in 1973.
Gene (The Demon) Simmons was in full tongular assault throughout - a menacing God of Thunder bound in some feathery sort of breast plate and spewing blood in the stage haze of puke-green illumination.
For his part, Paul (The Starchild) Stanley, when not slinging ‘round his six-string signature guitar with the sparkles, provided voluminous quantities of between-song banter. “Let Me Hear Ya Say Yeah!” and “How Ya Doin’ Saratoga!” his two most popular go-to incantations. Drummer Eric (The Cat Man) Singer, and guitarist Tommy (The Spaceman II) Thayer completed the Kiss 2019 quartet.
Kiss is an arena show that’s played for decades and, depending on your point-of-view, is kin to a long-running staged musical, or a band on auto pilot, albeit blending with a mix of catchy choruses.
Among the high points was Kiss’ recreation of their song “Deuce” - the band performing in sync with a video performance of their similar staging of the tune decades ago, the “Rock and Roll All Nite” anthemic conclusion, and Stanley’s across-the-amphitheater zip-line which delivered him atop a small platform stage for performances of “Love Gun,” and “I Was Made For Loving You.”
Santana’s Ode to Woodstock Generation at SPAC
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Fifty years after the weekend he famously played Woodstock – that’s 18,270 days, give or take – Carlos Santana staged a concert at Saratoga Performing Arts Center that kept the crowd packed into the amphitheater on their feet for most of the near two-hour show.
It was an ode in tribute to that three-day celebration of Hippiedom in 1969 during which Santana emerged on the SPAC stage. The stage-side video screens flashed through a ten-minute introductory interlude - accompanied by the horn-musings of a cool jazz soundtrack - that displayed groovy lights and peace symbols, barefooted children, fringe vests, and hordes of denim-wearing, mud-sliding, granola-eating Woodstock festival goers.
Fittingly, as Carlos Santana brought his 10-member entourage onstage to a live performance of “Soul Sacrifice” as the video screens simultaneously depicted him performing the same tune at the Woodstock festival all those years ago.
Carlos excelled in his six-string virtuosity most notably with songs such as “(Da Le) Yaleo,” wringing notes and soliciting screaming wails from the neck of his guitar, in his sonically signature style.
The setlist was a mix of vintage and modern-day Santana. The latter brought classics such as “Evil Ways,” “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen,” and a rendition of Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va” - whose decaying sustain was uprooted by One Big Power Chord that changed up the momentum, and moved it all into the modern day.
A handful of tunes revisited from his monster 1999 album ‘Supernatural,’ included “Smooth,” the sultry undulations of “Maria Maria,” and an emotionally stirring performance of “Put Your Lights On,” during which thousands engaged their smart phone electro-lights, illuminating the amphitheater in a surreal glow. There were also musical snippets, or entire renditions of tunes in tribute to other artists such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, The Chambers Brothers and Olatunji.
At his best, Carlos led the ensemble in a series of cadences that alternately beat with rhythmic intensity or pulsed in a seductive flow, ultimately culminating in the manic boogie jump-jump of his song “Foo Foo,” before bringing it back full circle with The Youngbloods’ inspired encore “Get Together.” The Doobie Brothers performed earlier in the evening.
Photos of Slipknot on stage at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, Aug. 21 at Knotfest Roadshow 2019.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Charles Wait, Chairman of the Board for the Adirondack Trust Company, recently worked with Joe Dalton, the former President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, to republish the booklet “The Rebirth of Elegance,” a series of essays detailing the history of various landmarks in Saratoga. The republishing adds more essays, now totaling 14 locations.
According to the booklet’s credits, the Adirondack Trust Company sponsored the booklet and it had input from the likes of Mary Ann Fitzgerald, Saratoga City Historian, Kathleen Fyfe of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and Feild Horne of Kiskatom Publishing, which has previously published the Saratoga Springs Visitor’s Guide.
The 14 essays include various locations of interest, such as Union Avenue, Congress Park, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and Skidmore College, among others.
Wait said in a letter at the beginning of the booklet that “this story may be less exciting than tales of bygone gambling days, thoroughbred racing, or the Roaring Twenties, but for those of you interested in how a community reinvents itself to become a diverse, healthy, thriving mini-metropolis with most of the amenities of city living while preserving a rural character, I think you will find these pages well worth the read.”
According to the booklet, Union Avenue was originally built in 1841 “for such recreational uses as carriage drives from Congress Spring out to the lake on its East end.”
Later on, in 1870, it was expanded and improved due to the racecourse, which had recently opened. In response, residents began building houses alongside the road.
Many of the structures fell into disrepair through the next century, but then John Roohan started working to repair them and return them to private residences.
Additionally, investors bought a set of 18 buildings and renovated 12 of them, demolishing the other six for parking. In total, the effort created 183 apartments that still remain, 40 years after their original construction.
Like Union, the 33-acre Congress Park’s history starts in the mid-1800’s, specifically at around 1850, originally as “Congress Spring Park.”
According to the booklet, Dr. John Clarke, who owned Congress Spring nearby, wanted people to have “a pleasant place to ‘walk off’ the laxative effects of the mineral waters” from the spring.
In 1826, Dr. Clarke acquired the land that would later become the park. Three years later, he made the first path to allow for “healthful exercise” after visiting the spring.
The reason the park was not fully open until 1850 was because the area was swampy and surrounded by a pine forest, so the spring and park went through various improvements, such as adding platforms, railings and a Greek Revival pavilion to the spring while the park was slowly drained. The last of the swampy areas were cleared in 1850.
In 1876, the park went through a complete redesign, with landscape architect Fredrick Law, who also designed Central Park in New York City, in charge.
The village purchased the park, Canfield Casino and its grounds and the Congress Hall hotel between 1911 and 1913. At this time, various stained glass pavilions from the previous remodeling were demolished, and Charles Leavitt drew up a new landscape plan for the park.
Various other attractions were added to the park throughout the 20th century, such as the Brackett Memorial Gateway in 1914 and The War Memorial Bandstand in 1931.
In 1977, a local landscape architecture firm prepared a master plan to repair damage to the park from vandals and age. In 1979, the city finally fixed the problem of the Village Brook, which overflowed with heavy rainfall, by building a culvert to carry off water during such times.
Finally, architect John Muse designed a pavilion for the park to house the Marcus Illions carousel from Kaydeross Park, an amusement park that was being dismantled.
As the park was closing in 1987, Saratogains raised over $130,000 over a little more than two weeks to purchase the carousel, which opened in 2002.
The booklet ends with a message from the Adirondack Trust Company, saying “we opened our doors in 1902 with a mission to transform our community, and for more than a century, we’ve gone above and beyond in serving our customers and communities. We are inspired to help improve the lives of our neighbors and friends and to help local businesses succeed. As a local, independent bank, we believe it’s important to work together to build upon a rich, shared history with a common mission for growth.”
Those interested in reading the booklet themselves can pick up copies at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market for $1. In total, the bank donated 1,000 copies. Proceeds go to the Farmers’ Market.
Joseph Vidarte, Manager of Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company on Broadway, said that John Nemjo started the company 25 years ago in Inlet, New York. Nemjo came to Saratoga 11 years ago and started the current Broadway location, albeit without the later expansions.
Vidarte said that the company started as mostly a retail location for the brand Life is Good, but over time it expanded to be a general outdoors store, including various brands and items ranging from clothing to utensils to equipment like paddles and chairs.
“We specialize in everything from paddle sports to climbing to backpacking, hiking, snowshoeing and just outdoor apparel and life stuff,” Vidarte said.
Additionally, the store has gone through two major expansions during its lifetime on Broadway. The first was gaining the back area, which gave enough room to add the likes of the store’s library and sale room, along with more floor space for goods. The second added an entire second entrance to the store, with the floor space being used for a shoe section.
“The first expansion happened in 2013, and the last expansion was finished just a year and a half ago,” Vidarte said. “So we’ve grown about 6,000 square feet in seven years.”
The store also has a sister location, Saratoga Springs Paddle Sports, which, as the name would suggest, focuses much more heavily on paddle sports, while the main location caters to general outdoors activities. Vidarte said that it is located at Fish Creek Marina, right beside Harvest and Hearth and the Kayak Shack.
Currently, the store is in the middle of race season, which Vidarte said was their second busiest time of year, after the holidays, lasting from approximately November until Christmas.
“As far as track goes, our sales are up from last year,” he said. “I would say the overall business, the overall economy is up from last year, with track season now that it’s two weeks longer.”
He continued, “but it’s not just track that brings in people to Saratoga. There’s a lot of events going on, whether it’s at Skidmore, or it’s at Saratoga State Park or SPAC for music, the ballet, the orchestra and just Broadway in general, Broadway for the shopping and restaurants, whether it’s on Broadway or a little off Broadway, draws a whole crowd up to Saratoga.”
He concluded, “there’s not many places like Saratoga Springs in the country, especially that are this close to a large city and that provide different opportunities for everyone.”
For the near future, he said that they would be starting up their Mountainman Adventure film series. He said “it’s a film series that we show in store once a month for three months, so it’s February, March and April.”
For each of the films, he said that they invite a non-profit company, a local brewery and representatives for the brand that it featured in the film. Each film showcases an aspect of the industry, and the night’s proceeds to go the non-profit. The brewery is for fun, so that people can drink if they want, and to raise awareness about local businesses.
Vidarte said that the first film they ever made was about skiing, and aired with an old projector and screen they had bought from a Golf Simulator, with a store employee who happened to also be a disc jockey on the technical controls.
Vidarte said “the problem was that it was all white background, and the projector that we were using was so old that it wasn’t showing well for about 80 people that attended that night.”
Now, the events have ramped up the quality, with the company High Peak Sound handling the audio and visuals, among other improvements.
Along with the movies airing at the start of next year, Vidarte said that the store has various large sale days coming up, such as Rendezvous Day from Sept. 27 to Sept. 29 for the Paddle Sports location, Skidmore Parents’ Day in October, Black Friday and the Victorian Street Walk.
For more information, contact Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company, at 518-584- 3500, or visit its website at www. mountainmanoutdoors.com.
Last Friday, Aug. 23, The Dark Horse Mercantile on Broadway held an Artist Meet and Greet event with Karin Vollkommer, a painter who paintings tell stories about their subjects.
Vollkommer said that her path in painting has evolved over time. Her father and grandfather were both artists, so she was around art all the time, however she herself only truly started to paint after she had kids and was at home most of the time.
She eventually transitioned into doing a lot of commercial work for the likes of Disneyland and JC Penny, but had to sell her whole venue after the 1988 Wall Street crash.
Three years later, after the non-competing clause had expired, she began painting again.
“When I started to paint again, no one was doing Saratoga, I mean they were doing Saratoga, but it was always the races,” Vollkommer said. “So I started to paint, and when I started to paint I chose Spit and Spat, the Spirit of Life, things that weren’t being painted.”
For the recent event, Vollkommer had created a painting that depicted the 100 years of various dark horses throughout Saratoga Racecourse’s history, starting with Upset defeating Man-o’-War at the top of the painting. Vollkommer said that Marianne Barker, one of Dark Horse’s two co-owners, gave her the idea for the painting.
As per usual for Vollkommer’s paintings, the back also has a small piece of paper that describes the overall story being presented. In the case of her newest painting, the story focuses on Upset, the only horse to ever defeat the legendary Man-o’-War in a nearly 100:1 victory.
Along with the new painting, Vollkommer had some of her other notable works for sale, such as her top-selling piece, “Jockies,” and several different Christmas- themed paintings, along with some merchandise for the Dark Horse store, as well.
As another part of the event, Marianne Barker, co-owner of Dark Horse, brought the store’s mascot, a miniature horse called Upset, named after the first dark horse of Saratoga.
According to Barker, the new Upset is currently about 11 years old, and was born in Lexington, Kentucky. Originally, he was a show horse, and even made it as far as being the reserve champion at the National Miniature Horse Show for yearlings. The people who bought him originally started up their own line of horses though, so sold Upset and his brother.
“He has just been perfect,” Barker said. “He is so even tempered, and he’ll just do anything you ask of him. He’s been inside the store and it doesn’t even phase him.”
Barker also noted that the wrappings around Upset’s back ankles and how he held one leg slightly up were not indicative of any injury or strain. Rather, the posture was a horse’s resting stance, and the wrappings were akin to shin guards for humans, and one being black and the other red matched the store’s logo.
For more information, contact The Dark Horse Mercantile, at 518-587-0689.
The grand hotels of Saratoga Springs, in the 19th century, were the most visible indication that our city was the number one tourist destination in the country. The hotels were huge in size, eloquent in style and known throughout the country as “the place” to be in the summer season. Gideon Putnam built the first hotel in the village in 1802 and it was then known as Putnam’s Tavern and Boarding House. This initial hotel had the capacity to house 70 guests. In 1802 Saratoga Springs was not in need of large hotels because it was a small fledgling destination but as our popularity grew, it didn’t take long before Putnam needed an “overflow” for his first hotel and began to plan and build a new hotel. The new hotel would be called Congress Hall. The Congress would be located on the eastside of Broadway, stretching from the south-east corner of Spring Street to East Congress Street (the entry to Congress Park today).
Gideon Putnam began construction of Congress Hall in 1811 with the name coming from the nearby famed Congress Spring that was a well-known asset in the early village. While working on the north façade of the hotel, Gideon fell from the scaffolding and was seriously injured. Putnam suffered for months from those internal injuries until he died on December 1, 1812. Congress Hall was three stories tall with 196 feet of frontage on Broadway and two wings that went down Spring Street and East Congress Street for a length of sixty feet. The front side of the hotel had 17 columns each thirty feet in height that framed a very beautiful porch that gave guests a place to sit and observe the activity on Broadway day and night. For this period in Saratoga history the Congress was a very large hotel that had a capacity to accommodate 150 guests. Early ownership of the hotel preferred to make this destination a house of temperance and religious activity.
In 1814 the hotel waspurchased by Grandus Van Schoonhoven who worked on the property until 1815 to further match the original plans set forth by Putnam. At this point in city history the Congress Hall was the largest hotel in Saratoga Springs until the United States Hotel was constructed and opened in 1824. Van Schoonhoven was joined in business by his nephew in 1822 and then again joined by others in 1823. In general, the hotel was leased to many different proprietors during the period from 1823-1855. In 1819 the village of Saratoga Springs was declared a special township with the right to self-govern. In that year the town decided to allow certain “pleasures” to be introduced in the village. In the summer of 1819 the Congress Hall introduced billiard rooms, an orchestra for concerts at night and allowed men to play cards in their rooms. These new additions made Congress Hall a desired location for dancing and other flirtation activities of the day. In 1822 Frank Johnson, a prominent band leader, came to provide the music for the dances called “Saratoga Hops” that would continue for years as a much-anticipated event of each season.
After midnight on May 30, 1866 the original Congress Hall burned in a very rapidly spreading fire that also destroyed the nearby Hamilton Spring and Bath House. The management had been working to prepare for the Congress Hall to open for the summer season of 1866 on June 1st. The original hotel was constructed of wood and was very susceptible to catching fire from the many open flame devices used in that time. Henry Hathorn was the owner at the time of the fire and began to immediately make plans to re-build. The new hotel would be constructed of brick and be much larger and grander than the original.
The new larger Congress Hall would be rebuilt in 1868 and would extend 416 feet down Broadway with two right angle wings, 300 feet in length with a rear courtyard in the middle. The entrance to the hotel revealed a lobby with a grand staircase and 16-foot-high ceilings on the first floor. The piazza on the Broadway side was 20 feet in width that would hold countless rocking chairs for guests to rock away the summer days while fueling the gossip of the day. As the new Congress Hall was planned and constructed it was evident that the hotel needed a large ballroom to compete with the other larger hotels in Saratoga Springs. Property that was not part of the original footprint of the hotel needed to be purchased to allow for the ballroom. The needed property would be found on the north side of the intersection of Broadway and Spring Street. The building that would house the ballroom still stands today but is composed of retail on the first floor and condo housing on the floors above. Henry Hathorn connected the hotel to the ballroom with a convenient iron pedestrian bridge, made in Troy NY, that passed over Spring Street. This passage-way allowed women to maintain clean silk shoes and hems of long dresses during inclement weather as they walked above an unpaved Spring Street. The metal bridge was further dressed up with the addition of carpeting, Chinese lanterns and an awning used during rainy weather.
During the summer of 1869 the Congress Hall hotel was prepared to host the first suffrage convention with Susan B. Anthony in attendance. By 1873 the new ballroom allowed the hotel to offer many great forms of entertainment during the summer season featuring Friday night balls with famous orchestras and performers. A travel guide in 1874 defined the Congress Hotel as the spot for American aristocracy to spend their Saratoga summers, that offered no barriers to the mixing of average people to high society. It has been noted by some travel guides, and a few historical accounts, that many felt that during this time that the village of Saratoga Springs taught the average American how to take a refined, civilized vacation. Undoubtedly, Congress Hall provided a location and an atmosphere for that education. As the years went on and the city approached the 1900’s, Congress Hall began to fall from favor with the vacation crowds and went into bankruptcy on May 9, 1904.
Between the summers of 1904 and 1911 many attempts to re-open and re-organize Congress Hall eventually failed. Congress Hall was closed forever and sold to the City of Saratoga Springs in 1911 with demolition to follow. The land on which the hotel stood was added to expand Congress Park and was just a foreshadowing of the eventual demolition that would take down the other two giant hotels, the Grand Union and United States. Vacation styles in America were changing and so would Saratoga Springs as it continued to re-invent itself to remain the “summer place to be.”
Tickets for the Area’s Premiere New Home Tour,
The 2019 Saratoga Showcase of Homes, Are Now On Sale!
Tickets are available at Adirondack Trust, Catskill Hudson Bank, Saratoga National Bank and Trustco Bank locations; Curtis Lumber in Ballston Spa and Queensbury; Roohan Realty, Rebuilding Together Saratoga Store and Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Tickets are always conveniently available at any showcase home during tour hours of 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. or can also be purchased online through the website at www.saratogashowcaseofhomes.com. Once again this year, each showcase ticket holder will receive a FREE shoe/tote bag at the first home visited!
The 2019 Saratoga Showcase of Homes is proudly presented over three fall weekends beginning September 14-15, 21-22 & 28-29.
Tickets are still only $20, which allows you to visit all these spectacular homes on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. This year’s edition has 10 locations from nine of our area’s finest builders on display in Saratoga County.
Participating award-winning builders in this year’s event are:
Bella Home Builders, Belmonte Builders, BDC Group, Bonacio Construction, DeGraff-Bloom Custom Builders, Heritage Custom Builders, Kodiak Construction, McPadden Builders and Witt Construction. To view an interactive map of the home locations, directions and much more, please visit the mobile friendly website.
Now celebrating its 24th year, this annual community event has contributed over ONE MILLION DOLLARS to our local charities. Proceeds from the Saratoga Showcase of Homes benefit Rebuilding Together Saratoga County (www.rebuildingtogethersaratoga.org) and Habitat for Humanity of Northern Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties (www.glensfallshabitat.org).
For more details on the 2019 Saratoga Showcase of Homes, please visit saratogashowcaseofhomes.com. Check us out on Facebook and follow all the updates on this year’s event!
About Saratoga Builders Association
The City Council this week announced an experiment on Henry Street which will see the two-way road transformed into a one-way street for motor vehicles. The free lane space created will then be turned into a two-way cycle track. The pilot project – which will run from Saturday, Sept.14 through Sunday, Sept. 29 - will measure the impact of implementing this low-cost engineered design to create the urban segment of the Saratoga Greenbelt Trail from Lake Avenue to Spring Street.
Henry Street, which runs adjacent to the rear-side entry of the Saratoga Springs Public Library, was named after Henry Walton – a man of high culture and polished manners who possessed the faculty of binding to himself close social ties to the educated and the refined, according to William Stone’s late 19th century writings, “Reminiscences Of Saratoga.” Walton was a judge and landowner during the early development of the local community.
A Public Hearing was held Aug. 13 regarding traffic congestion and the safety of students being dropped off and picked up at the Lake Avenue School, which faces Lake Avenue and is bordered by Regent Street and Marion Place. Potentially converting one of the two-way streets into a one-way street, as well as implementing “traffic calming-solutions” such as a large, billboard-esque electronic speed monitor were among the topics of discussion. The public hearing remains open and will be revisited by the council.
A Public Hearing was scheduled and will take place at 6:40 p.m. during the Sept. 3 City Council meeting regarding a Local Law to amend the City Charter as it relates to terms of office, eligibility and salaries of officers. The law seeks to increase the compensation of the elected City Council members from $14,500 per year to $30,000 annually, beginning on Jan. 1, 2020. Member salaries have not increased since at least 2001, Mayor Meg Kelly said.
City Center Parking Garage Hearing Scheduled
A Public Hearing was scheduled to also take place Sept. 3 regarding the crafting of a lease between the City and the City Center Authority that will potentially see the City Center develop and operate a 600-space parking garage near High Rock Park.
The project proposal includes two phases of development along the city-owned 2-1/2-acre parcel that runs from High Rock Park to Lake Avenue, and Maple Avenue to High Rock Avenue, one block east of Broadway. The City Center Authority has applied for a building permit, and if the lease agreement is approved, the project may begin development this fall and be partially completed by next summer, according to a spokesman for the City Center.
Current plans involve only Phase 1 of the project – on 1.75 acres directly east of the City Center and the Algonquin lot.
Phase 1 call for a multi-level, 600-space parking garage, a “pedestrian connector” atop Maple Avenue to run between the City Center and the parking structure, and an extension of the Green Belt Trail along High Rock Avenue, where there is 50 feet of space between the potential structure and the curb line. A small “pocket park” has also recently been added to the plans and will sit at the southeast corner of Phase 1 plans.
Capital Plan – Announcement on Code Blue Coming Oct. 1
City Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan will bring the proposed 2020 comprehensive city budget to the council Oct. 1 and “will include a financial plan to move the city forward with a permanent Code Blue Shelter,” Mayor Kelly said this week. “Commissioner Madigan and I have been working very hard to find land for a permanent location and we are making great progress.” The city is working with Shelters of Saratoga on the emergency homeless shelter.
A separate, six-year proposed capital plan totaling just under $17 million was also announced this week. The plan ranks 36 city projects according to importance. The highest ticket item is $6.6 million for an Eastside Fire/EMS Facility. The city currently has two stations – one just off Broadway and one on the west side. The potential of an east side facility has been discussed for several years. At present, no land where the station would specifically be sited has been determined. The fire/ems station ranks third highest in order of importance.
Other high-cost items include a Loughberry Lake Dam Embankment stabilization and spillway project – ranked 2nd overall and carrying a cost of $1.75 million, and the Geyser Road Trail construction – specifically related to the area in and around Route 50. The project would ultimately connect the Geyser Crest neighborhood with the Saratoga Spa State Park and Railroad Run. The council will likely vote on the Capital Budget at its next meeting, Sept. 3.