Preserving Saratoga

WRITTEN BY SAMANTHA BOSSHART PHOTOS PROVIDED

Good As Gold

Jim and Cheryl Gold

Samantha Bosshart, Jim Gold, and Cheryl Gold, at the 2014 Spirit of Preservation Celebration that honored the Saratoga Spa State Park and the Saratoga Room of Saratoga Springs Public Library. Cheryl was very fond of both entities and served as the Honorary Co-Chair of the event.

199 Woodlawn Avenue

BEFORE I BECAME THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, I would regularly walk my dog Sophie past my favorite carriage house in Saratoga Springs, 199 Woodlawn Avenue. It was not until several months after I had joined the Foundation in 2008 that I learned that one of my Executive Committee members, Cheryl Gold, lived with her husband Jim in this jewel box of

a carriage house.

As a young woman who was relatively new to the area
and had never been an Executive Director before, I soon realized that this quiet slight woman with a crew cut and
big red glasses was to be my trusted confidant. She had
a wealth of knowledge and experience that I came to rely
on greatly as I navigated difficult preservation challenges– the demolition of 23 Greenfield Avenue and 66 Franklin Street–early in my tenure as Executive Director. Cheryl was
a dedicated member of the Foundation who had served on the Advocacy and Major Properties committees for over 30 years in addition to serving several terms as a member of the Board of Directors. She had a long distinguished career with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which concluded with her professional career as Assistant Regional Director of Saratoga/Capital Region
of State Parks, where she was responsible for 17 state parks and historic sites. Upon completing her second six-year
term on the Board in 2009, she remained on the Advocacy Committee. She was always someone I could rely on to give a thoughtful, balanced approach to any problem I faced whether it be preservation or personnel related.

In 2011, Cheryl told me that she needed to step down from the Advocacy Committee for health reasons. Needless to
say, I did not take this news well and I continued to call on
her for advice and enlisted her husband to keep her engaged. I would periodically stop by their house with plans for a proposed project or I would ask Jim to ride with me to look
at properties of proposed projects or those nominated for a Preservation Recognition Award in hopes that the next time he and Cheryl were out for a drive he would take her by, so she could weigh-in also. By sharing with Jim, I soon learned that this wiry gentleman, also had a treasure trove of experience

Jim volunteering with Rumara Jewett to plant 600 pink and white geraniums at the Spirit of Life & Spencer Trask Memorial this past year.

A photo of 199 Woodlawn Avenue when Jim and Cheryl purchased it in 1987.

and knowledge to offer. For nearly 30 years, he had served as the Director of Historic Sites for New York State overseeing
a wide-range of properties across the state and working with numerous community groups. Jim had also served as the Chair of our city’s Design Review Commission for 12 years.

“When Jim and Cheryl started working for New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the New York State Historic Site System was in its infancy. When they retired, it was the envy of other states. From Fort Niagara near Buffalo, to Planting Fields on Long Island, to Schuyler Mansion in Albany, New York’s history is richer. Jim developed a state-of-the-art Conservation Program and Laboratory at Peebles Island in Waterford. Cheryl spent the last decade of her career in the Saratoga Region - she brought to every administrative challenge the protection of the historic and cultural resources of the region. She made the Spa State Park better and it is part of her legacy. Finally, Jim and Cheryl are the finest administrators I ever had the pleasure of working with,” remarked Julie Stokes, Retired Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation and long-time friend.

As the Foundation embarked on the restoration of the Spirit of Life and Spencer Trask Memorial in Congress Park, in partnership with the City of Saratoga Springs in 2011, I asked Jim to join the committee that would oversee the restoration effort. For four years Jim tirelessly gave his time to attend numerous meetings, assist with writing grants, and volunteer at fundraising events. It became evident to me and others, that the restoration of the Spirit of Life and Spencer Trask Memorial served as a welcomed distraction for Jim as Cheryl’s health continued to decline.

With the completion of the restoration nearing, I feared that Jim would become disengaged so I asked him to join the Board of Directors. Initially he was unwilling to commit to a three-year term because of the uncertainty of Cheryl’s health. My solution - I suggested to Mayor Yepsen that he serve as her annual appointment to the Board. He accepted and is now serving his first three-year term. Since joining the Board he has filled the void that Cheryl left. He has joined the Advocacy, Race Course, and Executive committees, all committees that Cheryl once served on, as well as the Fund Development and Marketing Committee and the Board Nominating and Development Committee.

However, the Golds’ dedication to preserving Saratoga Springs did not start with the Foundation. It started in 1981 when they bought their first house, 29 York Avenue, a house and carriage house they rehabilitated. While living there they always had their eye on the dilapidated carriage house at 199 Woodlawn Avenue - seeing its potential. They made inquiries about purchasing it, but to no avail. In 1987 on their way to dinner they drove by and saw a sign that it was for sale. They immediately canceled their dinner plans to go home to call the realtor. In 1987, they purchased the 1897 carriage house and lovingly adaptively reused it into their beautiful home with its magnificent garden.

While their carriage house is a contributing building to the Broadway Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places, their house was not located in a local historic district of Saratoga Springs. Therefore, it was afforded no protections against insensitive exterior changes or demolition, a recent trend in their neighborhood. Cheryl and Jim did not want their house–in the future–to meet the same fate as 23 Greenfield Avenue, 49 State Street, and 89 State Street. It was a long-time goal to add their house to the local historic district to provide Design Review Commission oversight. On June 7, 2016, along with their neighbors at 200 Woodlawn Avenue, Cheryl and Jim voluntarily added their property to the local historic district.

Not only had Cheryl and Jim been incredibly generous with their time and talent, but also their treasure. They had always made meaningful gifts to the Annual Fund and any special project that the Foundation has undertaken – Spirit of Life and Spencer Trask Memorial, Gideon Putnam Cemetery, and the Frederick Allen Lodge, to name a few. In 2016, they also donated $25,000 to create a Special Project Fund for the Foundation to fund education initiatives and rehabilitation projects.

Sadly, Cheryl passed away on July 30, 2016, and our community lost a dear friend and advocate of preservation as well as a dedicated supporter of the Saratoga Springs Public Library and open space preservation. To honor her memory, many gave and continue to make gifts in her memory to the endowment fund of the Foundation to provide long-term financial stability to the organization.

Prior to Cheryl’s passing, Jim and Cheryl both felt strongly about preserving the viewshed of the Pitney Farm on West Avenue. Since early 2017 Jim has volunteered countless hours at the Pitney Meadows Community Farm, recently joined its Board of Directors, where he serves on the Building and Grounds, Donor and Grants, and Strategic Plan committees. Barbara Glaser, who served as Honorary Co-Chair of the Spirit of Life and Spencer Trask Memorial and a founding member of the Pitney Meadows Committee Farm, said “Jim Gold is a gift to any organization he is a part of– whether he is serving on the Board, wielding a paintbrush, or developing a site plan for an historic site. He brings his intelligence, experience, and quiet presence to any role he plays and is respected and valued by all.”

I echo Barbara’s words and know that Cheryl is with Jim every step of the way when he gives back to our community. We are so fortunate to have had two amazing people that are as good as gold! SS


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