Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Two senators have secured $500,000 for repairs and renovations to the historic Victoria Pool at Saratoga Spa State Park ahead of its full-time opening on Saturday. State senators Kathy Marchione (R-Halfmoon) and Betty Little (R-Queensbury) will join Louise Goldstein and Andrew Jennings – the co-founders of Save the Victoria Pool Society – at 10:30 a.m. Thursday on Roosevelt Drive in the park to announce the half-million dollars in funding from this year’s New York State budget. The money will be used to make improvements to the Victoria Pool and promote the Victoria Pool Society’s 2014 volunteer drive, Marchione said. “We were shocked when we got the call,” said Goldstein of Saratoga Springs, a long time booster of the stately pool built in 1934. “We’re very grateful to Senator Marchione.” The persistent Save the Victoria Pool Society contacted and met with Marchione to explain the needs at the pool, Goldstein said. The group’s efforts in 2003 moved state leaders to provide $1.5 million in funding to fix the pool and keep it open. “Since we got the original money, there really hasn’t been a lot done,” Goldstein said. She said the pool’s once elegant lobby was dirty and empty of furniture, the site’s iron railings were rusting and lots of other work was needed. Constructed in 1934 during the Great Depression, Victoria Pool was the first heated pool in the United States. “This resource needs to be preserved and protected so future generations can experience and enjoy the full beauty of Victoria Pool,” said Marchione, who faces a challenge from former interim Troy schools superintendent Brian Howard, a Democrat from Troy, in November.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Victoria Pool to open Saturday, 6/7/14. let the moths out of your bathing suits, folks.

Daily Gazette article
Friday, June 6, 2014

June schedule is weekends only
By Justin Mason

Victoria Pool again opens early

— Fans of the Victoria Pool, get ready to make a splash.
Saratoga Spa State Park officials announced they will open the pool on weekends, starting Saturday. The pool will be open Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month, then daily starting June 30.
The early start will mark the second consecutive year the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation has opened the pool the first weekend in June. Last year, the state opened the popular park destination June 1.
Word of the opening was sweet music to Louise Goldstein’s ears. The co-founder of Save the Victoria Pool Society eagerly awaits the opening each year and has tirelessly lobbied park officials to open the landmark earlier than mid- to late June.
Goldstein and her friends make a tradition of catching the first and last day at the pool, plus many others in between. On Saturday, they plan to be there two hours before the pool’s 10 a.m. opening to secure its most precious resources: the forest green lounges and umbrellas.
“We’ll be lining up at 8 o’clock for those white doors to open,” she said Thursday, “then it’ll be a mad dash for the umbrellas and lounges.”
The park’s other pool, the Peerless Pool, will remain closed until June 28. Unlike the predominantly adult crowd that frequents the Victoria Pool, the zero-depth-entry Peerless Pool is typically used by children.
Constructed in 1934, the Victoria Pool was the first heated pool in the country. It is no longer heated but retains its original brick arches and walkways.
A hot spot for New York City Ballet dancers over the years, the pool fell into disrepair during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Goldstein and other fans founded the Save the Victoria Pool Society to push for funding to restore the structure. Then-state parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro committed $1.5 million to restoring the pool in 2005.
The massive overhaul included replacing the pool’s original filtration system, enhancing its landscaping, installing light fixtures and replacing the pool deck.
The Victoria Pool will receive another $500,000 in funding this year as part of $9.5 million in park improvements announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in April. Plans are for various aesthetic improvements, pool deck repairs, roof repairs and improvements to Catherine’s Restaurant, a privately operated business that serves pool-goers and golfers on the adjacent course.
Goldstein still hopes the state will consider opening the Victoria Pool on Memorial Day, when other parks around the region mark the start of the season. But for now, she’ll revel in the thought she and other fans will be basking poolside this weekend.
“Whatever is the magic of the pool, mostly it’s the people and people seeing each other after a long hard winter,” she said.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Saratoga Preservation Society to honor Park(including your Save the Victoria Pool Society) and Saratoga Room, Saratogian 4/27/14.

Preservation Matters: Honoring collaborative spirit of Saratoga Spa State Park and its partners

Shown is a 1932 drawing of the Hall of Springs by architect Joseph H. Freedlander, who designed the Beaux Arts style complex of buildings. Dr. Walter S. McClellan was appointed to be the first medical director of the Park in 1931 and served until 1953. Dr. Walter S. McClellan Collection of the Saratoga Room, Saratoga Springs Public Library.

The former Bottling Plant, built in 1935, was adaptively reused to be the home of the Saratoga Automobile Museum in 2002. Saratoga Automobile Museum
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy at least one aspect of the Saratoga Spa State Park – whether it is to go for a run, take waters from the springs, enjoy a classic car show hosted by the Saratoga Automobile Museum, go to the farmers’ market, see a performance at SPAC or the Spa Little Theater, check out the different exhibits at the National Museum of Dance, play a round of golf, attend an event at the Hall of Springs, take a mineral bath or, my favorite, spend a beautiful summer day at the Victoria Pool.

The Saratoga Spa State Park is considered one of the crown jewels of the New York State Park system, not only because it is a National Historic Landmark, but because of all it has to offer. What we have at the Saratoga Spa State Park is extra special. “Our park” is host to many different venues and activities not by chance, but because of our community.

The park was established in 1909, following the passage of legislation championed by Spencer Trask, Edgar Brackett and George Whitney to protect the springs that were being depleted by excessive pumping of carbonic acid gas and enable the state to purchase land in order to preserve Saratoga’s spring waters. In 1911, the State Reservation at Saratoga Springs was established.

What followed was an ambitious plan to create a public health resort to rival those in Europe. In 1915, the Hudson Valley Railroad Station (today the Saratoga Springs Heritage Area Visitors Center) was built to deliver people by trolley to the original Lincoln Bath building, the first building opened to the public for baths. Mineral baths proved to be so popular, the Washington Bath building was constructed five years later. Between the two buildings, 2,500 clients were served daily.

In 1929, a new Saratoga Springs Commission was appointed by Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt and launched the second phase of development, the creation of a scientific spa that would focus on hydrotherapeutic treatments for a variety of ailments, including cardiac and circulatory disorders, rheumatic conditions, gastrointestinal ailments, nervous conditions, metabolic diseases and non-infectious skin diseases. With the start of construction taking place in 1932 during the Great Depression, the Spa was funded by a $3.2 million grant from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. By 1934, the two Roosevelt Bath buildings, the Simon Baruch Research Institute that included offices, laboratories and an auditorium, the Victoria Pool, the Bottling Plant, Hall of Springs, a nine-hole golf course, and a hotel were built.

For a time, the baths would remain popular. At their peak in 1946, the four bath houses in the park – Lincoln, Washington and Roosevelt 1 & 2 – gave 200,000 baths annually. The decline of passenger railroad use and the rising popularity of the car forever changed people’s travel habits and destinations. Combined with the impact of medical advances, by the late 1950s the popularity of the baths declined significantly and the state gradually reduced its funding for the park. New York state was left with an extensive campus of buildings that no longer had a use that could underwrite their maintenance.

In 1961, the idea of bringing a first-class performing arts center was born. Prominent Saratoga natives collaborated with Harold G. Wilm, NYS Conservation Department Commissioner, to bring the idea to fruition. The state would commit $600,000 for site preparation, parking and walkways, if the citizens of Saratoga accepted responsibility for the estimated $1.8 million construction expenses. Members of the community took on the challenge and through a grass-roots effort were successful in creating a preeminent arts institution that is the envy of communities across the country. Not many parks can say that they are host to internationally acclaimed performers, much less serve as the summer home of the world-class New York City Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra.

What followed in more recent years was a series of other creative collaborations that have allowed the beautiful park that we know today to be preserved and thrive. The park is now not only home to a dedicated staff; it is home to a diverse group of friends and partners that include a variety of nonprofits and private businesses. The park has adapted from its original single purpose, a health resort, to a diverse mix of attractions. According to Alane Ball-Chinian, regional director for state parks, “this extraordinary level of preservation would have not been possible without a vibrant community within such close proximity that has continually demonstrated its commitment to preserving its historic downtown, neighborhoods and parks.”

The National Museum of Dance and the Saratoga Automobile Museum have each taken historic structures that were no longer serving their original purpose and have successfully adapted them as major cultural destinations. The Friends of the Saratoga Spa State Park and the Save the Victoria Pool Society have been vocal advocates for specific features within the park and have raised funds to assist with projects. The Home Made Theater, Opera Saratoga, New York State Court System, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and the Waldorf School all make use of buildings that would otherwise remain vacant or under-utilized. Various private businesses have also played a critical role in preserving park amenities such as the Spa Golf Course, the Gideon Putnam Hotel, and the Roosevelt Bath House

The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation invites the community member to join Honorary Chair Cheryl Gold, former assistant regional director for state parks and Saratoga Springs Public Library trustee, in recognizing the Saratoga Spa State Park and its many partners and the Saratoga Room with a Spirit of Preservation Award at 6 p.m. Friday, May 9, at the Saratoga Automobile Museum. The award recognizes those who through their vision and dedication have fostered historic preservation efforts in Saratoga Springs and contributed to the overall quality of life in our city.

That evening, Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, will present the Spirit of Preservation Award to longtime Chair of New York State Parks Saratoga-Capital District Region Commission Heather Mabee, who will accept the award on behalf of the park and its many partners.

“I’m so incredibly honored to accept this worthy award on the behalf of the park and its partners” Mabee said. Over the years, she has seen the value of these different relationships. “The park is extremely fortunate to have so many of different partners who work together to provide park patrons with a wealth of unique experiences.”

However, according to Ball-Chinian, “the puzzle of public-private partnerships is still not complete.” The state just recently completed a million dollar investment in the long-vacant Roosevelt Bath No. 2 for abatement and to install a new roof and electrical system. “We are ready for the next phase of shared investment to revitalize this magnificent structure and contribute to the park’s appeal as a wonderful multi-faceted destination long into the future.”

I hope you will join me as we recognize the Saratoga Spa State Park and its partners for their commitment to preserving the park’s historic resources and contributing to the overall quality of life of our community.

Tickets are $55 for SSPF members, $65 for non-members, and $40 for those age 40 and younger. The event comprises of an award ceremony and reception with culinary delights from Kim Klopstock’s The Lily and the Rose and cash bar. To purchase tickets or for more information, please visit or call (518) 587-5030.

Samantha Bosshart is executive director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, a not-for-profit membership-based organization founded in 1977 that promotes preservation and enhancement of the architectural, cultural, and landscaped heritage of Saratoga Springs.