Listen up, history nerds: there is an article in today’s Saratogian that will make you think and nod thoughtfully. Written by Samantha Bosshart, executive director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, the article outlines the importance of Skidmore in the formation of the modern Saratoga cityscape, focusing on the old Downtown campus, which was situated around the eastern end of Congress Park.
In 1903, Lucy Scribner purchased the above property, naming it Skidmore Hall, and founded the Young Women’s Industrial Club, which taught women the necessary skills to support themselves in the Saratoga off-season, when the track, hotels, and casinos were closed. In 1911, the YWIC changed its name to the Skidmore School of the Arts and began offering a wider breadth of courses.
Most of the original buildings that were part of the Downtown campus are still standing. Skidmore Hall, for example, has been converted into condominiums. These are perfect for people who want to pay $1,400 a month to live in an old dormitory. It’s all the fun of living in a studio apartment in New York City…but in Saratoga!
The whole article is pretty interesting, unveiling a little-known history that says a lot about the town as a whole. Bosshart asks a pressing question: what would Downtown Saratoga look like if calculator tycoon J. Erik Jonsson hadn’t donated the 650-acre parcel of land for the current campus?
Of this much we can be sure: students would be all over the area east of Congress Park, living in residences and heading to classes in buildings located on Circular Street, Regent Street, Union Avenue and other streets in the area.
Oh, the horror of that which could have been!