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Saratoga Businesses Looking Toward Future After Thanksgiving Fire

Lucas Willard
26 to 30 Caroline Street

Several structures in downtown Saratoga Springs were impacted by a fire in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving.

The fire didn’t hurt anyone, but it affected buildings on the corner of Caroline and Putnam streets in Saratoga Springs’ popular restaurant and bar district, displaced residents and closed businesses, at least temporarily.

One affected building, located at 26 to 30 Caroline Street, the former home of the “Living Room” restaurant, will be knocked down, according to City Attorney Vince DeLeonardis.

“The building inspector has inspected the property and we are in receipt of a letter from a certified engineer who has inspected the premises and determined the building is structurally unsound and unsafe, and as such we are issuing an order that the building be demolished,” said DeLeonardis.

Fire spread to the building from the nearby Mio Posto restaurant at 68 Putnam Street. Chief and owner Danny Urschel told reporters this week he would re-open the business and was looking for a possible new location.

According to City Building Inspector Steve Shaw, the future of the building has not been determined.

Brendan Dillon, owner of a neighboring bar called “Hamlet and Ghost” at 24 Caroline Street was surveying the smoke and water damage to his establishment this week.

“Yeah, we still got probably 3 to 4 weeks of cleanup to do to get back up and running,” said Dillon.

Since opening in January, this is not the first time Dillon has had to close down his business for cleanup. The bar was flooded around Valentine’s Day after frozen pipes burst.

“I kind of knew what was coming a little bit, so I set out right away to just set up a GoFundMe for our staff. We have a fundraiser coming up this Sunday 6 to 9 over at Merry Monk. That’s really just to help give them some extra money through the holidays,” said Dillon.

Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus said he’s talked with Hamlet and Ghost and Sperry’s Restaurant at 30-and-a-half Caroline Street.

“So we pledged, ‘As soon as you are ready to reopen let’s make sure we help you let the world know you can go back to Hamlet and Ghost, you can go back to Sperry’s,’” said Shimkus.

Sperry’s also says it will reopen, along with Ice House at 70 Putnam Street.

The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation is hoping the city will spare at least part of the 26 to 30 Caroline Street building slated to be demolished.

Executive Director Samantha Bosshart says it has historic value.

“The building is a contributing building to the Broadway Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” said Bosshart.

Built originally as a tannery around 1870, Bosshart says, the brick building is a good example of Italianate architecture once popular in Saratoga.

“It has similar distinctive brickwork as the Adelphi Hotel, and at one time was home to the Palmetto Fruit Company as well as the Coronet Press. So there’s history there,” said Bosshart.

If the façade is not salvageable, it could be one more change to an expanding and evolving downtown.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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