Five Places Where Rose Adair Might Have Stayed

Saratoga; Saratoga Springs; Rose Adair; The Horseman's Word;1865 Five Places Where Rose Adair Might Have Stayed

15 August 2017
Union Hall (Grand Union Hotel / Union Hotel)
Union Hall (Grand Union Hotel / Union Hotel)
Where might the heroine of my next novel, The Horseman's Word, have stayed when she went to Saratoga for the race season in 1865?
Union Hall
Okay, it didn't look exactly like this in 1865 when Rose Adair checked in.  (Maybe those cars in the foreground were a giveaway.)  But adjacent as it was to Congress Spring, Union Hall (as it was then called) was the oldest and best-known hotel in Saratoga Springs, and therefore it seemed natural that the Adairs would stay there.  1865 saw the new proprietors, the Leland Brothers, who had purchased the property in 1864 from the Putnam family, rename the establishment Union Hall - although many still referred to it as the Union Hotel.  (The name Grand Union Hotel came in 1869.)  Also in 1865, the Lelands finished construction on a 1600-seat opera house on the hotel grounds, which was opened on July 4 by none other than General Ulysses S. Grant.
United States Hotel
United States Hotel
United States Hotel
Um, well, okay.  No she couldn't have stayed there, and not just because this postcard dates from the twentieth century as well.  On June 18, 1865, approximately two weeks before Rose would arrive, the United States Hotel burned to the ground, an event breathlessly reported by the New York Times:
GREAT FIRE IN SARATOGA.; Destruction of the United States Hotel and Marvin House. The Guests Escape with Difficulty, and with the Loss of All Their Effects. Special Dispatch to the New-York Times.
Published: June 19, 1865
SARATOGA, Sunday, June 18.
The United States Hotel is in flames. The north wing cannot be saved, and the wind being north-wardly threatens the telegraph office. The Fire Department seems inadequate, there being only three engines.
The Union Hotel, Congress Hall, Clarendon and American are safe, but the Marvin House is seriously threatened.
Marvin House
Marvin House
Marvin House
The United States Hotel was burned to the ground, not to be reconstructed until 1874.  However, despite the Times' breathless reporting, the Marvin House, the family home of the proprietors of the United States Hotel, was spared, and exists to this day as the Marvin-Sackett-Todd House. Still, it seems unlikely that less than a month after the terrifying conflagration, they would be up to receiving guests - paying or otherwise. 
Congress Hall
Congress Hall
Congress Hall
Rose Adair could have stayed here in 1865, but she would have had to been prepared for a quick checkout, for Congress Hall, too, burned to the ground, a year later in what newspaper accounts referred to as "an uncontrolled blaze which swept the entire block."
Congress Hall was rebuilt in 1868 and the nearby Congress Theater was purchased in order to create a ballroom that would allow it to compete with the other great Saratoga Springs hotels of the time (in the dead of night, according to some local historians, to head off controversy raised by others in the incredibly competitive hotel industry).  A metal bridge, which, according an article in from the 1958 Saratogian, "when lighted at night, presented a glittering and most attractive picture" was built over the road between Congress Hall and the New Congress Hall Ballroom. It's gone today, but it's still evident in this vintage photo.
Adelphi Hotel
Adelphi Hotel
Adelphi Hotel
Let's not even try. The Adelphi Hotel was built in 1877, twenty years after Rose arrived, "for cheap summer use" in Saratoga's heyday.  But, unlike her older, grander sisters, the Adelphi has survived - to remain the only remaining grand hotel in Saratoga.  She's spent a year undergoing a loving (and not uncomplicated) renovation.  So let's welcome this grand old lady as she takes her place once more, front and center on the Saratoga stage.
© - Erica Obey
Photos © - George Baird