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The Lincoln Baths: Architecture and History of Saratoga

The Lincoln Baths

Architecture and History of Saratoga blog series

by Commercial REALTOR® Olivia Huffman & Professor James Kettlewell

Located at the entrance to SPA State Park, on the corner of Avenue of the Pines and New York State Route 9, the present Lincoln Bath building is one of the notable structures in historic Saratoga Springs. In 1930, the bathhouse was considered one of the largest bathhouses in the world when it opened. The present structure, comprised of stone, steel, terracotta, and concrete, is the second building on the site, as the first wooden facility burned in 1927.

Lincoln Baths History: The current Lincoln Bath House in Saratoga SPA State Park

The current Lincoln Bath House in Saratoga SPA State Park

Between 1896 and 1910, the Lincoln Spring Company and the Natural Carbonic Gas Company drilled 350 to 425 feet deep for what would be known as the Lincoln Springs. The company extracted carbon dioxide gas which was in great demand due to the popularity of soda fountains. When gas companies extracted too much water from too many springs, the water levels started to recede. Through the efforts of Spencer Trask, George Whitney and Edgar T. Brackett (read the history of the Brackett house), New York State stepped in 1909 to control the springs in Spa State Park, and the large gas extraction companies were closed. In 1911, the State Reservation at Saratoga Springs was established, today known as Saratoga SPA State Park to preserve the park and its natural mineral springs for future generations.

Aerial photo of the Lincoln Baths (right) and the National Museum of Dance (left)

Aerial photo of the Lincoln Baths (right) and the National Museum of Dance (left)

In 1915, the Lincoln Baths opened to the public in a large, plain wooden building. The wooden structure was built from an old factory that previously extracted gas from the Lincoln Spring.

The site of the previous factory was chosen due to the ability of the Lincoln Spring waters to hold gas longer than any of the other springs in the area. These gas bubbles were used to first carbonate soda fountains and as therapy at the Lincoln Baths.

The previous Lincoln Bath House which burned down circa 1909

The previous Lincoln Bath House which burned down circa 1909

In 1927, a fire destroyed the first Lincoln Spring building. The present building, completed in 1929, opened in 1930 to the public. William E. Haugaard (1889-1949) who studied at Pratt Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Ecole des Beaux-Arts was the architect. Haugaard was the Commissioner of Architecture, a position now replaced by State Architect. Haugaard was responsible for the design of buildings carried out by New York State, including Alfred E. Smith Building in Albany, New York.

Lincoln Baths Saratoga Springs NY: beautiful stonework in the lobby

Beautiful stonework in the Lincoln Baths’ lobby

“The current Lincoln Baths building is a beautiful example of the Federal style, a continuation of the Georgian style, the architectural style of the early American Republic (circa 1800), influenced by the famous British architect Robert Adam,” says Professor James Kettlewell, who has taught at Harvard (after graduating from the university Magna Cum Laude with honors in American Architecture) and Skidmore College.

james kettlewell quote

“It is evident by the slender delicate proportions of detailings. For example, the delicate semi-circular fanlights above the main doors are easily recognizable details of the Federal style. The Lincoln Baths were the first building in Saratoga SPA State Park to be a variation on the Federal style for patriotic reasons, where it invokes a nostalgic feeling through architecture for when the American republic was being formed.” 

Main door at lincoln baths in Saratoga Springs, NY

Main door at Lincoln Baths in Saratoga Springs, NY

The Lincoln Baths’ dramatic architecture, combined with its prestigious location at the entrance to Saratoga’s historic SPA State Park, make it one of the most impressive buildings in the region.

Historic Lincoln Baths in Saratoga Springs, NY

Interested in offices for rent or leasing a commercial space in Saratoga’s historic Lincoln Baths building? Here’s some info:

Lincoln Baths | commercial space #1

8,500 square feet on the second floor in wing 3 is insulated, sheet rocked and is ready to finish. Uses include administrative, business and professional offices. View listing

Lincoln Baths | commercial space #2

3,500 square feet on the second floor in wing 3. Raw space, leasing as is. Uses include administrative, business and professional offices. View listing

About the Authors

olivia huffman commercial real estate agent saratoga springs ny 

Olivia Huffman is a commercial real estate agent at Roohan Realty with an interest in Saratoga’s history. Olivia’s Agent profile | Olivia’s Linkedin

Professor James Kettlewell graduated from Harvard Magna Cum Laude honors in the field of American Architecture. He began teaching at Harvard University and was a professor at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs for many years. He was also the curator at the Hyde Museum in Glens Falls. His book on Saratoga architecture (pictured above) is available at Lyrical Ballad bookstore on Phila Street in downtown Saratoga Springs and on Amazon.  www.jameskettlewell.com | Get his book on Amazon

Our Architecture and History of Saratoga blog series will continue next month on February 21, 2017, stay tuned!


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