WRITTEN BY SAMANTHA BOSSHART, SARATOGA SPRINGS PRESERVATION FOUNDATION  |  PHOTOS PROVIDED

Who owns those two houses?  Are they for sale?  How come the owners don’t do anything to preserve them?  These are questions that I asked when I moved to Saratoga Springs in 2006 and walked by 65 & 69 Phila Street for the first time.  These were the same questions that neighbors were regularly asked by passersby.  Each time, hoping that one of the interested people would purchase the buildings and save them.  

When I joined the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation in 2008, I learned that these two properties had been on the Foundation’s endangered list since its inception in 1998.  After learning about the significance of “The Gut” neighborhood, the history of these two buildings, and the reasons for their deteriorated condition – willful intentional neglect, I knew that they must be preserved!

687 North Broadway
65 & 69 Phila Street
preserving saratoga

The two properties are located in the heart of “The Gut,” a neighborhood that was home to many working class and Jewish families.  The white, wood-clad Italianate style house located at 65 Phila Street was constructed in 1851 by Alexander A. Patterson, an architect and builder who later became the proprietor of the Patterson Mineral Springs Company in 1889. The house remained in the Patterson family for 90 years. Following the Patterson’s ownership, the house became a boarding house and then was owned by a Jewish congregation.

The same year that 65 Phila Street was built, the adjacent brick Italianate style house at 69 Phila Street was constructed by mason Robert Hunter. This house is significant because it was later the home of Reverend Hawley, a Methodist minister who established the Hawley Home for Children. While the orphanage no longer exists today, the Hawley Foundation continues to serve underprivileged children of Saratoga County through its financial support. These buildings represent the early development of our city and have associations with springs, the Jewish community, and philanthropy.  

Helen and Case Simpson purchased 69 Phila Street in 1994 for $41,000 and 65 Phila Street for $125,000 in 2002. Not only did they fail to maintain the structures and remove architectural features and portions of the buildings as they deteriorated, they also made inappropriate “temporary” repairs that have now been in place for several years.  During the Simpson’s ownership, the Foundation was approached by countless potential buyers who were interested in purchasing the buildings and preserving them. Unfortunately, no one was able to negotiate a purchase.   

65 & 69 Phila Street

Supporters of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation showed love to 65 & 69 Phila Street during the annual “Heart Bomb” campaign.

65 & 69 Phila Street
65 & 69 Phila Street
65 & 69 Phila Street
Alexander A. Patterson, who built 65 Phila Street, became the proprietor of the Patterson Mineral Springs Company in 1889 after building a spring pavilion on Phila Street.

While they were unwilling to sell at reasonable prices, they were willing to pay thousands of dollars in fees as well as hire legal counsel and design professionals to represent them in court and before the city’s land use boards.   

Most recently, the Foundation vocally opposed the owners’ proposals to demolish both buildings to construct new buildings.  At the Design Review Commission meeting on March 24, 2021, the owners withdrew their application to demolish 69 Phila Street because it was sold to owners who plan to restore it. The Foundation was pleased that the new owners contacted the Foundation shortly after closing to share their excitement about owning an important piece of Saratoga Springs’ history and their plans to make it into a home for their family.  

At that same meeting, the Design Review Commission, which is charged with preserving the historic, architectural, and cultural resources of Saratoga Springs, unanimously denied the proposal to demolish 65 Phila Street.   

On May 27, 2021 at a press event, I announced that the Foundation purchased 65 Phila Street and that it and 69 Phila Street will phinally be preserved!  

The purchase would have not been possible without Mark Haworth, an investor and a member of the Foundation.  “Since moving to Saratoga Springs, I have wanted to see the buildings preserved.  In fact, many years ago I attempted to purchase both for the purpose of preserving them, but was unsuccessful in negotiating a reasonable price with the owners,” said Haworth. “I believe in the mission of the Foundation and with the reduced price I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for the Foundation to take the lead in preserving the property,” he continued. He provided the necessary low-interest financing to allow the Foundation to acquire the property for $235,000, a price that was well below the list price of years ago.  

The Foundation plans to start by making necessary structural repairs and installing a new roof.  It will then restore the exterior – repairing and painting the clapboard as well as restoring windows and the front porch – before listing the property for sale.  Our goal is to remove the challenges associated with the property and sell it to someone who will complete the interior and be a good steward for years to come. 

Our friends and members rallied when the houses were proposed to be demolished.  It is our hope that our community will rally to revive 65. The Foundation’s initial goal is to raise $250,000, the preliminary estimated cost to complete the identified scope of work.  However, that number could change once the house has been thoroughly inspected and cost estimates are received. With the investment that will be made these buildings will contribute more to the tax rolls as they should have been doing for years, providing important revenue to our city and schools, rather than being a drain on our city resources of code enforcement, city attorneys, and planning staff.   

Any proceeds from the future sale of the house will support the Foundation’s mission to preserve the architectural, cultural, and landscaped heritage of Saratoga Springs and allow it to undertake another special project that benefits the community.   

Soon this building and 69 Phila Street will no longer be an eyesore to the neighbors – many of whom have diligently invested and lovingly preserved their buildings.  I thank the neighbors for not giving up on these two buildings.  

It is hard to believe that I was the one to phinally sign on the dotted line so many years later.  There were times that I was not certain preservation would prevail, but I am certainly glad it did!  I hope you will join us in reviving 65!  

To learn more and to make a donation please visit
www.saratogapreservation.org or call 518-587-5030.
 

65 Phila Street Living Room Porch Materials
The Gut Press Release
65 Phila Street Stairs

LEFT: The original columns were found inside the living room. RIGHT: The decorative newel post at the bottom of the stairs remains intact.


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