Preservation Matters: Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation honors commitment to local history with annual awards

Charles and Candace Wait's North Broadway Carriage House before work by Old Saratoga Restorations.

Charles and Candace Wait’s North Broadway Carriage House before work by Old Saratoga Restorations.

Each year the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation as part of National Preservation Month celebrates projects that reflect a commitment to preserving and promoting our historic resources and quality of life. I always enjoy thanking those who have made an investment in our community whether the project is big or small.

The morning of Sunday, July 28 I was awoken by a call informing me of a fire at the Woodlawn Avenue row houses, buildings I walk by nearly every day. I immediately got out of bed and walked to see the fire. I couldn’t believe the flames and smoke pouring out of the buildings and the number of dedicated fire fighters on the scene. I was certain the buildings were a complete loss and would need to be demolished — a thought that made me very sad.

Thankfully, due to the efforts of the Saratoga Springs Fire Department, there was no loss of life, the fire did not spread and damage was minimized allowing the owner, Robert Israel, to restore the magnificent façade, preserve what he is able, and rebuild.

Thursday evening at the annual Preservation Recognition Awards the Saratoga Springs Fire Department was honored with an Outstanding Service Award for their efforts with that fire.

I’m sure it is no surprise after my previous Preservation Matters article on the efforts to preserve 15 Church St. that it would receive a Building Rehabilitation Award. Sitting vacant for over 20 years, the building had deteriorated and had significant structural issues. The Burke family took on the challenges of preserving the 1874 building and invested significant funds to return it back to its original grandeur.

Charles and Candace Wait were recognized with a Building Rehabilitation Award for their efforts in preserving their circa 1850 carriage house at 658 North Broadway. The historic side addition was reconstructed, unsympathetic garage doors were removed and replaced with more appropriate doors, and many of the original details were restored. Tom Frost of Frost-Hurff Architects was the architect and Old Saratoga Restorations was the contractor for the project.

In addition, Charles and Candace were recognized with a Preservation Landscape Initiative Award. Historically North Broadway had a double alee of trees. Between Dutch Elm disease and the widening of North Broadway, many of those trees were lost. The Waits planted eight elms along the street to compensate for the lost trees.

Dieter Funiciello also was recognized with a Preservation Landscape Initiative Award. He always thought there was something missing from his and his wife Michelle’s house at 120 Circular Street. That finishing touch of their amazing restoration was a wrought iron fence. Inspired by the wrought iron inserts in the windows of their front entrance, Dieter designed and built a 160’ length fence. Taking several years, he bent 1,000 steel scrolls by hand and made more than 6,000 welds to construct the fence.

Stable No. 43, one of the original mid-19th century stables at the Saratoga Race Course, was no longer being used to stable horses because of its location. It deteriorated significantly, sinking several feet over the years, and was beyond repair. The New York Racing Association (NYRA) could have demolished and not replaced it. However, they did not. Working with Matt Hurff of Frost Hurff Architects, the stable was reconstructed, retaining many of the original slate shingles and taking care to replicate the original locks and hinges. The Foundation recognized NYRA with a Reconstruction Award for their efforts to retain the original character of the oldest sports venue in the country.

union-exterior-1Several Porch Restoration Awards were given out Thursday evening. The grand porch of the Colonial Revival at 48 Union Avenue was restored by the condominium owners with the assistance of architect Steve Rowland of Bulter Roland Mays Architects and Old Saratoga Restoration. Robert and Ann DeMarco were recognized as well for the restoration of their front porch at 135 Spring Street done by Chris Bennett and Ken Derderian. A few houses down at 149 Spring Street, Jamie Bray and Owen Grant were recognized for restoring the full-width porch that had at one point been removed and replaced with a one bay entrance porch.

Several owners made significant investment in the exteriors of their buildings. Andrew Roginski and Jen Benaman made extensive improvements to the exterior of their home at 14 York Avenu , including the removal of aluminum siding. Benjamin and Leah Nathan were also recognized for their work at their home at 36 Bensonhurst Avenue. Tracy Hyer with the assistance of her family — her parents, Jane and Thad Smith Sr., her brother Thad Smith Jr., and her uncles David Carter and Don Spatol — restored her home at 128 Beekman Street.

Three new construction projects were honored with New Contextual Design Awards: the addition to the John Baker’s Gaffney’s Starting Gate done with the assistance of architect Tom Frost and Bonacio Construction, Inc., Tim and Joanne Maloney’s garage at 30 Ludlow Street, and the new Washington Building that Bonacio Construction Inc. completed at 422 Broadway that filled in the missing tooth of the streetscape of Broadway.

While it may go unnoticed by many, the removal of the aluminum siding and the restoration of the wood clapboard siding of Anne Trainor and Mark Gelber’s home at 77 Regent Street did not go unnoticed by the Foundation. Nor was the unique project of restoring the circa 1850 Brewster and Co. carriage lanterns missed. With the encouragement of Jim Sasko of Teakwood Builders, Inc. Kyle and Jennifer Perry restored the carriage lanterns rather than replace them with generic light fixtures that could be purchased at Home Depot or Lowes. They hired Gregory Tkal of Two if by Sea Gallery to restore the lanterns which had badly deteriorated. Also, National Grid was recognized with a Roof Restoration Award for restoring the slate and copper roof of their building located at 50 Excelsior Avenue.

I hope you will join me and the Foundation in congratulating and thanking all of this year’s Preservation Recognition Awards for their investment in preserving our unique architectural heritage and quality of life in Saratoga Springs.

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