By Samantha Bosshart

Originally printed in the The Saratogian. Reprinted with permission.


First Baptist Church tower before restoration.

Each year in May, as part of National Historic Preservation Month, the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation recognizes those who have preserved the architectural heritage of Saratoga Springs. Each year it serves as a reminder to appreciate not only the large projects, but the smaller projects that may otherwise go unnoticed.Shown is the before picture of the tower of the First Baptist Church at 45 Washington Street, recipient of the Tower Restoration Award Photos provided

On Thursday, May 28th following a brief Annual Meeting, the Foundation held its Preservation Recognition Awards Ceremony in the H. Dutcher Community Room at the Saratoga Springs Public Library. The ceremony started with Mayor Joanne Yepsen proclaiming May 2015 as National Preservation Month in the City of Saratoga Springs. The proclamation recognized the tradition within our community to restore and preserve historic properties and the efforts of many dedicated individuals, businesses, and organizations.

fbc after

First Baptist Church tower after restoration.

The first award of day was given to the First Baptist Church, 45 Washington Street, for the restoration of the tower that graces their 1855 Greek Revival style building. Once again the tower proudly stands among the other church towers along Washington Street. Jeff Seagrave, a member of the Board of Trustees, accepted the award on the behalf of the church. He expressed his gratitude for recognition for the work that was completed. While maintaining the grand structure presents its challenges to a small congregation, the members are proud to call this building their home.

While the Foundation does not typically accept nominations of private interiors, a special exception was made this year. Louis Allen and his wife Miryam Moutillet received an Element Restoration Award for the restoration of the turn table in their home at 27 Lafayette Street. No, I am not talking about a turn table for a record you listen to, but a 15’ diameter turn table for cars.

Their home at 27 Lafayette Street was built in 1902 as a garage for Harry Levengston, the proprietor of the Saratoga Bath House who resided at 115 Circular Street. Levengston was an early collector of cars, at a time when cars had no reverse gear so they were turned in place to orient their parking position. While he and his wife have lovingly been restoring the house since 1992, Allen – I am sure much to the chagrin of his wife – did not consider the house complete until the turn table that was made by the GW Smith Iron Company of Saratoga Springs was operable and able to rotate 360 degrees. Today, it serves more as a novelty as one sees the furniture in the room rotate, but it also serves as a reminder of the building’s past.

Rory Whelan, the owner of 115 Circular Street, received a Landscape Initiative Award for the restoration of his brick sidewalk. Peter Gailor of Peter J. Gailor Landscaping and Excavation and his son Cole accepted the award on Whelen’s behalf since he was unable to attend. The Gailor family has a proud tradition of doing landscape work in Saratoga Springs for several generations and was pleased to see their work recognized.

Old Saratoga Restoration project

Tepper carriage house before restoration by Old Saratoga Restorations.

Tepper carriage house before restoration by Old Saratoga Restorations.

Jason and Tamara Tepper received an Adaptive Reuse Award for transforming the former carriage house of 718 North Broadway into a single-family residence. Most of the large ornate summer “cottages” along North Broadway had carriage houses that were located at the rear of the deep lots. The long vacant carriage house, now 28 Second Street, never drew much attention as it was clad in aluminum siding and had a modern garage door. The Teppers, new residents to the area, saw the great potential in the building and were thrilled to have their home recognized. Upon accepting the award, Jason said, “the house is similar to a geode, historic on the outside, but shiny and new on the inside.”

Tepper carriage house after restoration by Old Saratoga Restorations.

Tepper carriage house after restoration by Old Saratoga Restorations.

Lance and Shannon Bell received an Exterior Rehabilitation Award for their carriage house at 719 North Broadway. The carriage house had fallen into major disrepair and was on the Foundation’s endangered building watch list, so needless to say I was thrilled to see the exterior of the building rehabilitated. Upon accepting the award, Lance acknowledge local architect Tom Frost, for his not so subtle encouragement to complete the work he had started. Lance praised the efforts of others in the room and the work of the Foundation as being a major reason why Saratoga Springs is such a desirable place to live.

Jamie and Owen Grant received an award for the second year in a row. Last year, the Grants received an award for restoring the porch back at their circa 1860 house at 149 Spring Street to its original full-width configuration. This year they received a Landscape Initiative Award for restoring their brick sidewalk, using the existing historic bricks and salvaged bricks. Homeowner Owen Grant credits his landscaper Darryl Wadsworth, owner of StoneScapes Inc., for the success of the project. Wadsworth was a rare contractor in that he was willing to re-use the existing brick.

Front porches are part of what makes Saratoga Springs special. The front porches are prominent architectural features that provide outdoor living spaces that allow people to easily interact with their neighbors. Caroline and Robb Blake received a Porch Restoration Award for their work at 97 Ludlow Street.

The last award given, but certainly not the least, was a Volunteer Recognition Award for Joan Walter who recently completed her 150th house history! Since 2008, Joan has diligently researched deeds, census tract information, maps, city directory information among other things. On average each house history takes 20-30 hours of research – some take less, but then there sometime are ones that are much more challenging and take more time. Joan says “I enjoy doing them because each one is different and it is fun to learn something new.” Upon accepting her award, she thanked Teri Blasko and Victoria Garlanda of the Saratoga Room at the Saratoga Springs Public Library and Mary Ann Fitzgerald, City Historian.

Mayor Yepsen in closing the ceremony said “Even before I became Mayor, I always loved the Preservation Recognition Awards because it is so great to see the sense of pride people take in their residential and commercial historic buildings and their commitment to investing in the quality of life of our community.” I echo the same love of this event for the same reasons. It is a privilege and an honor to have members of the community preserve the unique architectural, cultural and landscaped heritage of Saratoga Springs. Thank you to everyone involved with each and every one of these projects!

Founded in 1977, the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that promotes preservation and enhancement of the architectural, cultural, and landscaped heritage of Saratoga Springs.