The Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust, in keeping with one of its purposes to support cultural programs in the Saratoga region, recently awarded the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation with its largest grant of 2013 – $50,000 toward the restoration of the Spirit of Life & Spencer Trask Memorial located in Congress Park. A partnership initiative between the City of Saratoga Springs and the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation to restore, to the extent practical, the Memorial to its original 1915 design. Elements of the restoration project include the bronze Spirit of Life sculpture, the masonry architectural surround, and the landscape setting.
In the spring of 2013 two professional preservation consultants, Daniel J. Wilson and Martha Lyon, were hired by the City of Saratoga Springs to complete Phase I of the project: conduct historic research, assess current conditions, and make recommendations for treatment for the masonry surround and landscape setting. Wilson, a preservation architect with a practice in Albany, is now finalizing the plans and specifications for the masonry work, the next major phase of project. The $50,000 grant from the Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust will provide critical funding for the masonry restoration phase. “The support of the Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust through this generous grant at such a crucial time of the project is greatly appreciated,” said Commissioner of Public Works, Anthony “Skip” Scirocco.
Restoration work for the masonry phase of the project will include: stabilizing and reconstructing the north portion of the east seating area; replacing damaged balustrades and coping stones; repointing of joints; removing all unsound stucco and repairing the stucco to a uniform finish; and addressing fountain infrastructure.
To-date, major grants for the project have been received from the Saratoga Foundation, the Saratoga Springs Rotary Club, and the Greater Capital Region Community Foundation. In addition, several individuals in the community have made generous gifts. The City of Saratoga Springs has thus far allocated $75,000 towards the project as well as committed various in-kind services by the Department of Public Works for the project. Additional funding is anticipated in the 2015 Capital Projects Budget.
With key support from these grants, the City and the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation will continue to seek the remaining funds, services, and materials needed to complete the restoration of not only the masonry architectural surround, but also the bronze Spirit of Life sculpture and the landscape setting. “It is our the hope that area businesses will join the City and the Saratoga Springs Preservation in their efforts to restore the most iconic image of Saratoga Springs by contributing goods and in-kind services to help offset the significant cost,” said Samantha Bosshart, Executive Director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation. Significant additional funding will be needed to be raised in this year in order to remain on schedule to complete the restoration in June 2015, the centennial of the memorial.
Those who wish to learn more about this project and/or donate to the restoration effort can do so online at www.spiritofliferestoration.
In 1913, Katrina Trask, philanthropist, Yaddo founder, and Saratoga resident, along with George Foster Peabody, commissioned the Memorial to honor her late husband, Spencer Trask and his efforts to protect and preserve Saratoga’s natural springs while further beautifying Congress Park. The work for the Memorial was completed by two significant Americans, sculptor Daniel Chester French and architect Henry Bacon, who also designed and executed the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. French created the bronze sculpture, Spirit of Life, while Bacon designed the masonry architectural setting. The surrounding landscape was designed by Charles Leavitt, Jr., who had designed the 1912 General Plan for Congress Park following the demolition of the Congress Hotel and the 1902 Master Plan of Saratoga Race Course. The Memorial was dedicated on June 26, 1915, the same year the City of Saratoga Springs was incorporated, which may be why the Spirit of Life is identified as a symbol of our community.
Founded in 1977, the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that promotes preservation and enhancement of the architectural, cultural and landscaped heritage of Saratoga Springs.
Lend your own support to the project here.