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2015 Saratoga Centennial Anniversary

2015-08-05 by saratogasam

Saratoga Centennial Anniversary

100 Years of Saratoga

From the Grid – Saratoga Online News Source

For more than a century Saratoga has been known as the August place to be, and as the city in 2015 celebrates its centennial anniversary since incorporation, here’s a look at some of the events and happenings – from the historic to the downright quirky – that have occurred during the month of August over the past 100 years .

In August 1970, against growing public opposition, the Saratoga Harness track maintains its dress policy prohibiting women from wearing slacks, although it institutes a new policy which allows admittance as long as women change into a skirt provided by the track. Alternately, at Saratoga Race Course, where pantsuits are allowed, opening day reports cite large numbers of women in attendance dressed in “the new fashion.”

In August 1995, the Saratoga Springs Public Library is relocated to Henry Street and the Broadway space is taken over by the Saratoga County Arts Council.

In August 2011, the Center For Missing & Exploited Children opens a regional office in the city.


Joseph Deuel – Aug. 11, 1917. Deuel became a city presence through the 20th century, serving as watchman at the city’s notorious gambling houses, owner of a newsstand, operator of two bowling alleys as well as becoming a bowling champion, and in character form appeared in Stephen Dobyns’ Saratoga mysteries. He died in 1997 at the age of 79.

Minnie Clark Bolster – Aug. 19, 1920. For more than a half century becomes the city’s foremost collector of Saratoga Springs memorabilia, boasting a collection of pictures, paintings, books, and furniture from many long-gone Saratoga hotels.


1985 – Bill McKelvey, a colorful city character and a Saratoga institution, dies on Aug. 1. A bench dedicated in his honor is placed in front of City Hall


Congress Theatre opens Aug. 21, 1919 with the staging of the play “Somebody’s Sweetheart.” The theater has a seating capacity of 1,400 and would eventually become a movie house, screening films until the late 1950s. The building once housed a ballroom which connected to the Congress Hall hotel via an iron bridge in the late 1800s. More than a dozen bricked-over windows and visual remnants of the bridge connection remain to this day.

Frederick Allen Lodge #609 is chartered in Saratoga Springs on Aug. 5, 1925 as a branch of the International Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World. The group, who would become known as the “Black Elks,” initially held meetings at members’ homes before setting up their club on Congress Street.

1950 – The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame is founded and opens in the Canfield Casino (Aug. 1). In 1955, the organization relocated to Union Avenue

1984 – The Saratoga Springs City Center opens on Aug. 2. The new site welcomes the Society of Association Executives of Upstate New York for its first event, and features Chevrolet-General Motors for the first conference.

2013 – Northshire Bookstore opens in a mixed-use space in The Washington building, developed on a previously vacant lot inactive since the Great Fire of 1957 (Aug. 5).


1933 – A freak summer hailstorm of “cyclonic proportions” strikes the city, downing hundreds of trees which are sent crashing into homes and automobiles (Aug. 13).

1954 – The infamous Piping Rock Casino, a mafia-controlled nightclub and casino, burns to the ground. Arson is suspected. (Aug. 16);

1959 – The last train departs the Saratoga Train Station on Aug. 10. The station served as the site for several depots since the 1830s, and is removed the following year as a new station opens on West Avenue. In 1961, Price Chopper, then known as Central Markets, opens a market on the former station site on Railroad Place

Hollywood and other stages:

1945: Actor Monty Woolley receives 20 write-in votes as candidate for city mayor against incumbent Mayor Addison Mallery (Aug. 1). One week later, Woolley sent a telegram from Hollywood, Calif. saying much as he appreciated the honor, he decided, “after serious consideration,” to decline the nomination because his contract in Hollywood would prohibit him from adequately performing the duties of the office. In 1949, Monty Woolley Day is celebrated in Saratoga Springs on Aug. 1. The actor was awarded a key to the city and celebrated with a luncheon on what is opening day at the racecourse, attended by nearly 14,500 fans. Woolley grew up locally and lived at the Grand Union Hotel, which was owned by his father. Nicknamed “The Beard,” the actor is best known for his role in the 1939 Broadway play, and the 1942 film, “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” He died in 1963 and was buried at Greenridge Cemetery.

1946: Lucille Ball celebrates her 35th birthday at The Arrowhead with Desi Arnaz, Jr. on Aug. 6.

1947 – Sophie Tucker, Senor Wences, and “a breathtaking ensemble of lovely girls!” perform at The Piping Rock (Aug. 2); Across town, on the same date, 18-year-old Norma Eberhardt begins a four-week stand as a chorus girl at Delmonico’s. The seven-day-a-week gig pays $75 per week. A few years later, she would appear in films alongside Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, and in the cult film classic “Live Fast, Die Young.”

1951 – Burgess Meredith appears in ‘The Silver Whistle” at the Spa Summer Theatre (Aug. 13-18). He returns in 1958 and appears in “The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker,” at the Spa Summer Theatre (Aug. 4-9).

1954 – Novelist Ian Fleming visits Saratoga Race Course and conducts research which later appears in his James Bond book, “Diamonds Are Forever.”

1992 – U2 performs at Saratoga Raceway (Aug. 18).


1919: Man o’ War finishes second to the horse Upset at Saratoga Race Course. It is the only loss in the career of Man o’ War (Aug. 13);

1921: Arnold Rothstein wins $500,000 on Sporting Blood, a horse he owned, in the Travers Stakes (Aug. 20). Rothstein, who is believed to have had a hand in fixing the 1919 World Series, also converts an old city estate on Church Street into the opulent Brook club gambling hall.

1936: Seabiscuit wins the Mohawk Claiming Stakes (Aug. 3) and is purchased at Saratoga

1946: Racing returns to Saratoga after a three-year absence, and 15,168 jam the roadways and entry gates to pay the $1.60 admission for the eight-race card on Opening Day of the 24-day meet (Aug. 5).

2004 – After captivating a national audience in 2003, former Kentucky Derby winner and New York-bred Funny Cide makes his racing debut at the Saratoga Race Course (Aug. 22); Marylou Whitney’s Birdstone, who had earlier denied Smarty Jones the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes, wins the Travers under a surreal storm-ravaged sky at Saratoga (Aug. 28).

2007 – The largest single-day attendance record of 72,745 is set at Saratoga Race Course (Aug. 11)

2014 – Tom Durkin calls the final race of his 43-year career at Saratoga Race Course (Aug. 31)

sources: The Saratoga Room of the Saratoga Springs Public Library, and the book “Saratoga Stories: Magic and Loss,” by Thomas Dimopoulos.

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