For decades, Old Saratoga Restorations has had the privilege of participating in the restoration of historic properties throughout the New York and Capital Region areas. That mission has been especially rewarding in the city of Saratoga Springs, which would have lost much of its valuable architectural heritage in the late 20th century had it not been for the enlightened efforts of individuals and preservation organizations.
Gideon Putnam, considered the founder of Saratoga Springs, built the first hotel on land he acquired around Congress Spring in 1802.
Eight years later, he laid out a plan for the city’s development.
Broadway was always intended to be the main commercial street, and others built hotels on land sold to them by Putnam and his descendants. The coming of the railroad in 1830, running parallel to Broadway just to the west, accentuated the corridor’s importance. The tracks also created two disparate sections of the main drag when they crossed Broadway at the Van Dam junction, following the route now used by routes 9 and 50.
This break made the lower section of Broadway the commercial center, while North Broadway became an affluent Victorian-style residential area in the later years of the 19th century. The North Broadway homeowners were primarily wealthy summer residents from further south in the Capital District than the Union Avenue community. They came to Saratoga Springs for the baths and get away for the summer.
In 1979, the mile-long corridor – from Congress Park to a small portion that overlaps into the Town of Greenfield just north of the city limits near Skidmore College – was recognized as a historic district and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Since then its boundaries have twice been increased to include some adjacent areas after new information became available about the buildings in them, one of which is a church by Richard Upjohn. Another contributing property, the post office, was later listed on the Register in its own right.
Today, both the commercial and residential architectural assets of the North Broadway Historic District are preserved by the city’s Design Review Commission, a seven-member body appointed by the mayor to staggered three-year terms. It reviews any proposed signage and exterior changes to any building in any of the city’s historic districts.