Skidmore Saratoga Memory Project

Spa State Reservation Commission

Sixth Annual Report of the Commissioners of the State Reservation of Saratoga Springs

Engineers' Drafting Room, 1915

The 1915 State Reservation Commission Report (6th annual), published January 1, 1915, outlines the request of commissioners George Foster Peabody, Frank N. Godfrey, and Benjamin F. Tracy to obtain additional funds from New York State to acquire lands to incorporate into the State Reservation and renovate and expand the bathhouses.

The authors explained how the goal to preserve and conserve the historic mineral spring waters was connected to ideas about the need to redesign and revitalize Saratoga Springs’ image as a resort and destination. They argued that the “emergency” funds needed for renovation and land acquisition “arose when the European war [WWI] so suddenly developed conditions that will, it is believed, hasten and greatly increase the demand for the fuller and more varied use of the mineral waters…” 

The report emphasized that changing times called for a changing strategy.  It argued that WWI would divert the demand for bathhouses to Saratoga Springs due to elite Americans being unable to access the baths of European countries embroiled in war. There was also a push for funds to reach a different kind of spa goer.  The report sought to develop “low-cost” bathing facilities at the Lincoln Spring to serve “the great population of farmers, artisans and others, who would not be able to avail themselves of the luxurious facilities necessary to be provided for those who are accustomed to take the cures in Europe”; later reports added African Americans to the list of potential clients.