Saratoga Race Course

Working closely with client, Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation (SSPF) and user, New York Racing Association (NYRA), this cultural resource inventory of the historic Saratoga Race Course combined both historic structures and cultural landscape studies to document the developmental evolution of the oldest active race course site in the United States. The purpose of this two-phase study was to help inform both the local Preservation community and NYRA on the history, development and existing condition of the property as they planned for improvements to the site that would meet the modern needs of the thoroughbred racing industry while, protecting and enhancing the significant historic character.

Landmark Consulting teamed up with Martha Lyon Landscape Architecture for this collaborative effort to research, inventory, and record all the built and landscape resources within the defined survey areas, determine or evaluate their historic or architectural significance, and develop recommendations for treatment and use in a property management and improvement plan.

This 350-acres site supports a minimum of three types of users – the horses & jockeys; the NYRA management & staff; and the patrons or spectators. As such there are a number of building types that relates specifically to one of these three users. The first phase of the study began with the survey of the barns, stables, residences, and other support structures such as offices and facilities buildings. All the resources were photographed, mapped and documented on an inventory form. Within six distinct stable or backstretch areas, the various buildings were categorized by type, construction, period, location and use, while character-defining landscape features such as edges, circulation, views, topography, fencing and mature specimen trees were surveyed and evaluated. The phase one survey established a framework for better understanding the development of the complex, the character and significance. It also established a methodology and product format that was later applied to the second phase of the study which focused on the resources contained in the public spaces, including the Clubhouse, Grandstands, Jockey House, Paddock, entry gates, and back and track side yards. Once again this work involved the research and review of historical documentation to determine the developmental evolution and significance, the documentation and assessment of existing conditions and the development of treatment recommendations to guide maintenance, restoration and expansion or redevelopment of the spaces and structures.

The resulting product of this 18-month long study, was two report volumes, several public meetings and presentations and continuous dialogue with the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, NYRA and their feasibility & development consultants. Within months of the completion of the reports, NYRA announced their Capital Projects Strategy and design teams.