A couple of months ago, I got the idea that, with the whole Centennial celebration going on throughout Saratoga, maybe it was time for me to check out the Saratoga Springs History Museum. As many already know, I was born and raised right in the area…in nearby Burnt Hills, yet I had never been to the History Museum.
I had no idea what I had been missing and I am very, very sorry I have not discovered this gem before now. I contacted Jamie Parillo, the Director of the museum, and he very graciously agreed to meet with me to tell me a little bit about the museum and let me take all the photos I wanted!
As always with my posts to this blog, I am mostly just going to try to take you on a photo tour of the many rooms, displays, exhibits and artifacts while, at the same time, giving you some pertinent facts and comments to complement the journey, but I am not going to attempt to share any real history as it would make this post entirely too lengthy. I’m just hoping to encourage everyone to take a couple of hours and enjoy stepping back in time and learning about this city we live in. Your time will be well spent!
I have gotten my information from the Saratoga Springs History Museum website (http://www.saratogahistory.org/), and any quotes I use here are directly from that site.
The Museum was founded in 1883 as the Saratoga Historical Society. One of the founders was Ellen Hardin Walworth, who was one of the four original founders of the Daughters of the Revolution.
“Since then, our mission has become focused on the City of Saratoga Springs.”
The museum occupies three floors, and is located within the Canfield Casino, a designated National Landmark. The first floor contains the Orientation Exhibition, which chronologially guides you through the history of Saratoga. It is logically and interestingly arranged with many, many periodic artifacts and interesting and pertinent facts and explanations.
“The exhibition features large graphics tying together each period and creating a sense of place, while smaller graphic details focus on the varied layers or thematic units within each time period.
Telling the Story of Saratoga Springs is divided into six chronological sections discussing the topics of Geology, Settlement and Development, Commerce and Transportation, Community Life, and Recreation/Entertainment.”
Moving up to the second floor, visitors enter the Canfield Casino High Stakes Gambling Room. The Casino was built in 1870, and the gambling room was added in 1871. “When the Canfield Casino was in operation, the High Stakes room was for the elite of the elite. Bets in this upstairs parlor ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Today, the High Stakes Room is preserved with much of the original furniture from the Casino.”
Also located on this floor is the exhibit entitled, “Vice: The Darker Side of Saratoga Springs,” which I found to be a completely enthralling history of gambling, prostitution, bootlegging, gangsters and generalized corruption. The information provided, coupled with the artifacts and memorabilia, completely took me back in time to this darker side of our history. It was an interesting and thoroughly enjoyable journey!
Heading up one more floor, visitors enter the Walworth Memorial Museum. This exhibit chronicles the history of the Walworth family, headed by Chancellor Reuben Hyde Walworth, and documents the stories of both tragedy (a son killing his father), as well as the joys and accomplishments of the family.
Here’s an interesting story about a haunting, kind of timely given that it is almost Halloween…
The entrance to the Walworth Family Museum
The Red Bedroom
The Walworth Library
Courtroom of Ruben Hyde Walworth
I hope these photos give you a good idea as to what you can expect when you visit the Museum. I had a great time wandering through the rooms and exhibits, reading the stories and history. I do plan on going back when I am able to spend more time, and really do some studying. Our history is just so fascinating!
According to the website, the museum is open daily from 10-4, and admission is only $5/adults and $4/seniors and students.