Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Yet another historic treasure long ignored by Saratoga Spa State Park

Rotting in the park
Updated: Wednesday, February 4, 2009 1:22 AM EST

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SARATOGA SPRINGS - The snow-white paint is falling, flake by flake, from the facade, exposing the gray hue of worn wood beneath.

Windows devoid of glass panes are either covered in thin sheets of plywood or have become a point of entry for vines and animals.

Small overhangs above the doors sag, standing only with the assistance of a pair of two-by-fours used as makeshift props.

Inside, the smell of dust and mold is pervasive. Wallpaper is peeling from the drywall, and nothing more than a mustard yellow oven and a small potted plant on a haphazard shelf can be found.

This is the collective aesthetic of the single-story home situated between the Saratoga Tree Nursery's fields and the third hole of the Saratoga Spa State Park's golf course.

Unless state officials alter course, the picture is likely to get worse.

Vacant for more than three decades, the state has tried and failed over the years to solicit private investment in the structure. They've also considered demolition and, now, say they've got no plans for the building whatsoever.

"Even demolition is expensive, so it still just sits there waiting for an answer," said Robert Kuhn, the assistant regional director for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The building does have its share of history, though.

According to documents provided by the Library of Congress, the one-story structure was built sometime around 1835 by Charles Patrick, who used it as the centerpiece of his 150-acre farmstead.

At that time, the surrounding Saratoga Spa State Park had not been developed.

Diana Armstrong's grandparents, Daniel and Norah Ronan, and her mother, Florence, lived in the building during the early 1900s and farmed the surrounding area. The house then was split into a duplex and was shared by two school teachers, Armstrong said.

She said she has never been in the house but has visited to take pictures in recent years.

"Whenever I drive down South Broadway, I always look down between the trees to see if it's still there," she said.

In 1928, as efforts to expand the park were underway, the state assumed ownership of the building.

It was used to house managers for the tree nursery until 1976, when the final occupant, Hank LaTour, died and his family moved out.

Robert Macica, who lived in a nearby house that the state eventually took through eminent domain, said he worked for LaTour but never had the chance to enter the house.

"It was well maintained, but it looked old even then," he said.

Efforts to find an alternative use for the building have thusfar been unsuccessful.

In 1997, state officials attempted to attract developers who would build a golf course on land adjacent to the park and included a 20-year lease for the house in the deal.

But its awkward placement -- the building can't be reached by road -- spoiled any chance of its potential revitalization.

Defeated, state officials suggested several years ago that it be torn down, a proposal that never came to fruition. The suggestion was made again last year, but it was put off again because of the state budget crunch, officials said.

Now, Alane Ball Chinian, the parks department's regional director, said she'd like to see something done with the building.

"It needs to be preserved and re-purposed," she said. "It's a historic building without a use."

But Dan Keefe, a spokesman for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said there are no plans to do anything with the house.

Officials are creating a master plan for the entire state park now, and ideas for the building could be included in that document, Keefe said.

The plan may also propose new uses for other, smaller abandoned structures in the park, as well as the now-vacant Roosevelt bathhouse.


VictoriousVictorian said...

Many years ago, when I was younger of course, I went by the building on skis (a beautiful way to see the park). The building in my opinion seems to have fallen into such disrepair that it cannot be saved. it would obviously cost taxpayers a great deal more then the house is worth. I really believe the only "historic" value of the house is that it is old. I am sure many people have not seen this building and have never heard of this until today's article. I really think the title of this blog entry seems nasty. There is too much nastiness on this blog, you have disappointed me Louise. Where will the money come from and what would you expect them to do. Millions were spent on the Victoria Pool. At the time this park was built things were different. there was one pool, a testing facility(parks office) and a theater that actually drew crowds, bathes were popular and more people believed in the water cure of the springs.We now have medicines and know more about health. Also im sure many of you recall the bottling plant, with water for sale throughout many stores. Like it or not times have changed and what brought money in at one time is now a drain on the money the parks are getting. I may be older than you people but I can remember the past and the glory days of Spa Park. its not the park or parks themselves that have changed it is the world, it is unfortunate.I personally hope the building will fall to the ground, parks should not waste money on the building it would be irresponsible for the state to do, also give parks a break in your articles!!!!! its now beginning to seem as if you are looking at things to criticize the parks system about.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I never thought I'd say this but VictoriousVictorian makes a lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

Its comical how the blog writer never responds to postings. I just came across this blog and it has to be one of the worse, the only the the blogger does is put up photos and articles. This is laughable

Anonymous said...

It's true...they don't respond because they have no logical or reasonable position or point of view.

Anonymous said...

"Yet another historic treasure long ignored by Saratoga Spa State Park"

What makes it a historic treasure? Just because it's old?

This was a big stretch even for you vultures.

F. Washington North said...


VictoriousVictorian said...

Well FWNorth, whoever you are the pool will never be a terrorist target. There are far more important things to destroy in the world and why wold someone want to destroy such history and a beautiful place where children and families gather. No the saratoga park would be like paris during the war, no one would dare. Its the most beautiful pool in the nation hands down

Catina Miller-Smith said...

??? Does anyone know the pool is a terrorist target. I think more security is in order then. I thought we got away from all this terrorist threats years ago. Will there be searches at the pool? metal detectors? its about time they do this a Disney world and great escape. It's just so sad that radicals have targeted our pool.

Saratoga Springs

Anonymous said...

This is craziness!!!!!!!! People wouldn't attack this pool i don't even know how it got turned around this way, maybe VicVic is nuts or something but they were the ones that made up that rumor. Is CATINA even a real name? This blog never ceases to amaze me!