The first buildings erected in Saratoga Springs over a hundred years ago were entirely of wood, cut from the adjacent
land, In fact the ground on which our city now stands was at one time all woods. Very few, if any, of the old original
trees are left today.
These wooden structures erected so readily, however, easily submitted to fire; for then we did not have the up-to-date
fire deoartment that the city now possesses.
Practically every building on the east side of Broadway between Grove street and Congress Spring Park in the old
days at some time has been completely destroyed by fire.
The Bryan Stone House
Alexander Bryan was considered the first permanent settler here, after the close of the American Revolution. Dr.
John H. Steel in hid analysis of the mineral springs of Saratoga has called him such. Bryan located himself near
the High Rock Spring in 1787, buying land of Gideon Morgan, the land previously owned by the son of Samuel Norton
and built there a large log house which he opened for the accommodation of visitors.
Mr. Bryan had five sons, Daniel, Jehiel, Robert, John, and Alexander. John was a farmer and merchant in Saratoga
and built the stone house on the corner of Rock street and Front street, now Maple avenue, supposed to be the identical
spot where his father’s loghause stood. Robert, a son of John lived in the house until his death.
I have no record of the building of the stone house, although I am sure it was one of the early residences of the
community and one of the few still standing.
A monument standing in Greerridge Cemetery bears this inscription:
“In memory of Alexander Bryan, who died April 9, 1825, aged 92 years. The first permanent settler and the first
to keep a public house here for visitors. An unpaid patriot who, alone, and at great peril gave the first and only
information of Burgoyne’s intended advance on Stillwater, which led to timely preparation for the battle of September
19th, followed by the memorable victory of October 7, 1777.”
The Walworth Mansion, known as Pine Grove is one of the oldest houses in the city. It was built by Henry Walton
in 1815 and he and his family resided there until he built the large residence at Woodlawn. In 1823, he sold the
property to Reuben Hyde Walworth, later Chancellor of the state of New York.
In these early days it was a much more secluded place than it NOW is and was exceedingly beautiful.
The railroad had not then marred its proportions and a delightful wood which bounded It on the rear extended up
westward beyond the present Woodlawn avenue, and to the Waterbury orchard and farm. Almost the entire block opposite
was then used as a public park, and was the favorite resort for both the villagers and summer guests, being traversed
by fine walks.
It enclosed a ten pin alley which was much resorted to; swings hung down between the tall pines and in this grove
the Indians sometimes encamped offering for sale their manufactured wares, And here, too, the militia sometimes
met on training days.
In 1828, the chancellor removed to Albany but in 1833, tiring of his residence there he returned to his former
home in Pine Grove and lived there until his death, which occurred on the 28th day of November, 1866. While residing
in Flattsburg, the chancellor married his first wife, Maria Ketchum Averill. She died at Pine Grove, April 2, 1847.
By his first wife, he had six children, Sarah who married John M. Davison; Mary who married Edgar Jenkins, Eliza,
who married the Rev, Dr. Backus. His sons were the Rev. Father Clarence Walworth, and Mansfield Tracy Walworth.
April 16, 1851, the chancellor again married, his second wife being Sarah Ellen, daughter of Horace Smith and widow
of Colonel John 3. Hardin. She brought with her to Saratoga, three young children of her first marriage, two boys
and a daughter. The daughter married Mansfield Tracy Walworth and their daughter. Miss Ellen Hardin Walworth living
in Albany, spends every summer here in the old house at Pine Grove The second wife died in April, 1874. The chancellor
died Nov. 28, 1866,
About 1860, the original house was very materially changed in itd outward aspect. The roof was changed, rooms were
enlarged and added to in the second story, but the ground floor rooms were not disturbed and remain as they were
when the great Chancellor hell Court there,
The original building was a plain square building with a north and south wing. The north wing was used by the chancellor
as an office, the south wing being a parlor, A stone building located now on the corner of Van Dam and Woodlawn
avenue was occupied by the coachman having been built by Henry Walton for his coachman, The house is now standing
on the corner of Van Dam street and Woodlawn avenue and is occupied as a grocery Store,
The Walworth Mansion has sheltered many national leaders in the time of Chancellor Walworth, and was one of the
great show places at the community. The movement of Saratoga Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution to place
a bronze marker upon the house, indicating its great historical wortn, is a most worthy one and deserves the commendation
of all Saratogians.
The Davison House
The Davison House, one door north of the Warden Hotel, was built on or before 1819; for in that year, Gideon M.
Davison and family were living there and that year Mr. Davison began the publication of the Saratoga Sentinel,
which, in 1845, was merged in The Republication, started in 1844 by John A. Corey,
The house is now the resideace of Dr. and Mrs. David C. Nolan.
Early Houses Still Standing
The three story brIck building on the northwest corner of Broadway and Washington street was built by Nathan Lewis
in 1819 and in the corner store Joseph Westcott, May 25, 1819. became a dry goods dealer. At the present date the
corner store is the office and drinking parlor of the Saratoga Vichy Mineral Spring Co. The store north is that
of an automobile supply co.
The Ramson Cook house still standing at number 219 South Broadway, and occupied by Mrs. Frank A. Cook, and her
mother inlaw, Mrs. Eli R. Cook, is another very old house still preserved. It was bought by Ransom Cook, father
of Eli R. Cook in 1822. Ransom Cook was born, Nov 8, 1794 at Wallingford, Conn. and came to Saratoga Springs with
his parents when he was seven years old. His father established a furniture factory in the county. When Ransom
was old enough, he began working in his father’s factory and in 1813, he came to Saratoga, then a hamlet of 300
The three story building owned by Lewis H. Hays at present on Broadway, was built by Walter J. Hendrick, in 1830
and was owned by Samuel Root, who had a bakery in the basement and occupied the store above in which he sold breads,
cakes, and pies.
Alexander Hays, of Galway was employed by Mr. Root, and he eventually bought the business and the reel estate in
1850. Mr. Hays and family resided above the store. The building was damaged by fire in 1905 but was repaired. Mr.
Hays died in 1899, aged 74 years. His son Lewis H. Hays, now occupies the store, the upper floors being arranged
in fiats and rented.
The Chapman Building, now housing the Saratoga Athenaeum Library and rooms was built in the early 1830-s and was
used by Samuel Chapman as his residence. With him lived hIs n€.phew James R. Chapman, who was employed as a locomotive
engineer on the Saratoga and Whitehall Railroad. Samuel Chapman was born in Saratoga Springs in 1790 and made his
home in that part’ of the Athenaeum building, now number 344 until his death, May 16, 1857, bequeathing the building
to his nephew.
At the entrance of the Athenaeum today, the visitor may read on a tablet, this:
“Saratoga Athenaeum, Chapman Memorial. This building, given in memory of James R. Chapman, and Elizabeth J. Chapman.
The inscriptions on the graves of the Chapmans in Putnam cemetery are as follows: “Samuel Chapman, died May 16,
1857, aged 67 years and Ruth Chapman, his wife, died, Dee, 16, 1859.”
An Early Tavern
Where the American Hotel now stands there was another tavern in the early days. kept by E. S. Monroe, but there
is no record that the
house had a name. George W. Wilcox, purchased the property in 1832, and called it The York House, which name it
retained until 1840 when he built the American Hotel.
Mr. Wilcox and his son-in-law E. Darwin Pitkin conducted the hotel for several years. The property was sold by
Mrs. Pitkin, the only child of Mr. Wilcox, to William Bennett who made additions and improved the property.
The Perry Building was built in the 1830-s by Dr. John L. Perry. He and his family resided there and he had his
office on the ground floor, Dr. Perry died Nov. 27, 1873, aged. 59 years,
The Durkee House
The residence in which I live, the C. E. Durkee, residence on the west side of Broadway, corner of Walton street
was built by Judge Nicholas B. Doe, and is another of the oldest houses in the community.
Judge Doe resided in waterford before coming to Saratoga Springs and was elected member of the assembly in 1825
and made a county judge in 1826. Again he was elected as assemblyman in 1840 and 1841 and later was elected member
In 1841 he removed to Saratoga Springs and in 1841-42, he built the brick riouse in which I live, and he with his
wife resided there until their deaths.
During his life, Judge Doe maintained an office in the basement of the house. He died Dec. 6, 1856 and his wife,
Gertrude C. Doe, died Feb. 13, 1864.
In 1865, Paoli Durkee, my father, purchased the property and with his family occupied the house. Mr. Durkee died,
Feb. 4, 1888 and his wife, Lydia Stoddard Eldridge Durkee died July 1, 1889.
The Fonda Building. still standing at 384 Broadway, was built by Horace H. Fonda, in 1846, The front has been changed
and the upper stories altered. Mr. Fonda and family resided above the stores and conducted a grocery store on the
street floor for a number of years. The building is now occupied by John B. Erb’s store, and Dr. John J. Boyle’s
office and above are law offices.
The little cottage, standing a short distance back of the street between the residence of Dr. D. C. Moriarta and
The Saratoga Club is quite old, but I have not been able to ascertain at what date it was built. In 1849, it was
occupied by the late William B. Gage and family Mr. Gage was the master mechanic of the Rensselaer and Saratoga
Railway, now the Delaware and Hudson, and was the father of the late William B, Gage for many years proprietor
of the United States Hotel, and the grandfather of Marvin B. Gage of this city. The building at the present time
is occupied by Mrs. Ellen M. Kenyon, a dealer in antiques.