John Muse lingers at the intersection of art and architecture.

Saratoga Springs is more than a haphazard collection of buildings, streets, and greenery. It is a dynamic, ever-changing landscape. 

John Muse is responsible for creating many of the area’s most recognizable structures and recently restored his own house, which was originally built in 1905. 

Finding Beauty in Buildings

A lover of Classicism, Bungalow, and the Arts and Crafts styles, John Muse is among the last generation of architects who draws buildings by hand. 

“I lament what happens in the architectural world when people don’t draw,” he said. 

Drawing isn’t just something John does for a living, it’s how he spends his leisure time. Using a muted palette of colors in his pieces, John gives architectural details a hazy appearance so they appear as offset abstractions to the casual observer.

“My paintings are always a study of light and composition. I look at
how light hits a building and tend to look at things from a slightly different perspective,” said John. 

This year, a collection of 40 of his paintings were on display at Uncommon Grounds. 

“It was kind of fun, I was surprised how much people liked them,” he said. “People really appreciate the Saratoga city scenes.”

Hidden Gems

John’s discerning eye has caught sight of the city’s lesser-known architectural gems among many of its most popular buildings. 

While renovating the third floor of City Hall, for instance, a three-story brick Italianate building at 474 Broadway constructed in 1871, he glimpsed the original ceiling of what used to be the Town Hall Theater hidden above. 

“What a surprise that was! I thought, ‘Oh my goodness! I can’t believe this is here’.”

Such artistic wonders are unexpected delights. 

Another such instance occurred while John was walking on Skidmore’s public bike trails. In the woods, John came upon a water tower encircled with graffiti. 

“At first, I was annoyed because I’m not usually a fan of graffiti but the more I saw, the more I thought, ‘Wow! This is really beautiful’.” 

The simplicity of the old railroad station in Saratoga Spa State Park, the powerful mystique of Yaddo Gardens, and the skilled stone masonry of the 1946 home at 12 Wagner Road have also caught John’s eye. 

To see a portfolio of John’s work, go to musearchitect.com 

With greater scrutiny, artistic wonders appear.
Public places that warrant a closer look include:


Adirondack Trust

High Rock Pavillion

1. The Adirondack Trust Building, 473 Broadway

Erected in 1901, this white marble landmark has remained a formidable presence downtown. Perched on the roof, a stag head crest is flanked by two fierce eagles.  Inside, the coffered ceiling, golden chandelier, and quotes in gold lettering draw your eye up.

2. Saratoga Springs Post Office, 475 Broadway

Built in 1910, this Beaux Arts building’s marble columns and bronze doors create a grand entrance. On the lobby’s east wall, two murals entitled “Saratoga in Racing Season” were painted by Guy Pene du Bois in 1937.

3. Caroline and Main, 438 Broadway

Peering down from the rooftop is a fiddler’s ceramic head surveying the scene at one of the city’s busiest intersections.

4. High Rock Spring Pavilion, 112 High Rock Park

In 1848, the first permanent structure was built over the city’s most infamous spouter. Today, it’s beautifully updated, the area remains a park and features a 9/11 memorial sculpture.

5. National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame,  99 South Broadway

Established in 1918 as the Washington Baths, John considers this Arts & Craftbungalow building to be one of the most beautiful of its style in the world.

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