Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the grand reopening of the historic Roosevelt II Bathhouse at Saratoga Spa State Park. First opened in 1935 by former New York governor and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the iconic Georgian Revival-style bathhouse has been closed since falling into disuse in the 1980s. The bathhouse's reopening is part of a $2.3 million transformational project that is restoring and improving upon the grandeur of the Roosevelt Baths.
"The Roosevelt II Bathhouse is a living piece of New York history that once provided a natural luxury experience to everyday New Yorkers, and by breathing new life into the facility visitors will once again find themselves enjoying the peace and beauty of Saratoga's natural springs," Governor Cuomo said. "New York's parks are a national treasure and we will continue our hard work across the state to not only maintain them, but make them better than ever and true must-see destinations."
Under the NY Parks 2020 initiative, the bathhouse's historic lobby has been restored, new restrooms installed, new heating, ventilation and plumbing systems added, toxic asbestos removed, and programming space added for a planned artistic and wellness center.
Future plans include use of a portion of the 18,000 square-foot facility by the not-for-profit group COESA, which will use 2,700 square feet to offer retreat experiences and classes in personal well-being, leadership, meditation, professional wellness training, and work-life balance. The facility will open once state regulations aimed at preventing spread of COVID-19 allow.
"This bathhouse will be returning to its original purpose - the enjoyment, well-being and relaxation of those who visit," State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said. "I commend Governor Cuomo for bringing this historic facility back to life."
The new coffee shop will be operated by Saratoga County-based Wired Coffee, which currently operates cafes in Malta and the city of Albany.
COESA Executive Director Wendy Page said, "As an innovative wellness and leadership center, COESA is mindful about opening our doors when it is safe to do so. During the pandemic, we quickly mobilized to create a video series, Rising Together, collaborating with local, national and international practitioners to assist our community in this uncertain time. COESA will continue the momentum of our video series with focused online offerings and our collaboration with SPAC in outdoor classes as we work towards our official opening."
The COESA facility is across from the Roosevelt Baths and Spa, and is part of the Roosevelt Campus, which includes Parks administrative offices and the Spa Little Theater, as well as two mirror-image mineral water public bathing facilities, and the magnificent Hall of Springs.
After the baths were dedicated by President Roosevelt, who was a proponent of curative mineral baths, the facility offered baths until early 1943, when it was converted into a military hospital for disabled veterans. After construction of the Veterans Administration hospital in Albany, the facility was used by State Parks as office space, a restoration shop and storage until the building was closed in the late 1980s.
There is 12,000 feet remaining in the renovated bathhouse to be redeveloped in the future. In 2019, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center received $2 million in Regional Economic Development Council funding to offer substantial new opportunities for public use of the space.
This upcoming renovation follows Governor Cuomo's announcement of the $9.5 million visitor services improvement project at SPAC, which is slated to be completed in 2020. These projects follow the 2019 renovation of the amphitheater ramps, made possible by a $1.75 million allocation from New York State Parks.
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner, President and CEO-Designate Eric Gertler said, "The architecture and unique history of this building, coupled with its setting in the picturesque Saratoga Spa State Park, made it an ideal candidate for renovation and adaptive reuse - and, when fully reopened, once again a place for visitors to relax and explore."
Senator Daphne Jordan said, "Today's opening of the Roosevelt Bathhouse II is a terrific day for Saratoga and New York State. This project represents the successful realization of careful planning, community collaboration, and significant, sustained state financial investments that will ensure Saratoga Spa State Park remains a true treasure of our State Park System. This project's innovative partnership with COSEA will provide more opportunities for health, wellness, and relaxation programming, which is critically important. This facility is steeped in a venerable history and the many facility enhancements including restoration of the historic lobby, installation of new restrooms, and the addition of new heating, plumbing, and ventilation, will ensure that we preserve an incredible past for the enjoyment of future generations. I'm proud to be part of this historic unveiling and want to thank State Parks Commissioner Kulleseid and Governor Cuomo for their commitment to seeing this project through to fruition for the betterment of our Saratoga community."
Assemblymember Carrie Woerner said, "As a strong advocate of historic preservation, I am so thrilled to see the restoration of the Roosevelt Baths II. I want to thank the Governor for his assistance and welcome COESA to the Spa State Park. The health and wellness programming that they will provide to visitors and residents alike will be a wonderful addition to the park and the Roosevelt Campus."
Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly said, "The completion of the Roosevelt Baths II represents another link in the chain of progress happening in Saratoga Springs: continually building and rebuilding without ever losing sight of our past or heritage. I want to extend my sincere thanks to everybody involved with this project, a project that has further refined our already exceptional Spa State Park. I look forward to working with our new patterns, COESA, and our existing ones, and wish everybody involved with this project the best of luck in the future."
President & CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center Elizabeth Sobol said, "SPAC treasures its location in the Spa State Park, surrounded by exquisite nature and historic architectural gems. Seeing Roosevelt II begin to come to life is truly one of the most exciting things I have experienced here since beginning my tenure at SPAC. We are so delighted to welcome our new Parks Partner, COESA, onto the campus and look forward to all the wonderful new health and wellness programming they will be bringing into the Park."
About NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 individual parks, historic sites, recreational trails and boat launches, which were visited by a record 77 million people in 2019. A recent university study found that spending by State Parks and its visitors supports $5 billion in output and sales, 54,000 private-sector jobs and more than $2.8 billion in additional state GDP. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit parks.ny.gov, connect on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.