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The Day the Music Died…In Saratoga Springs, NY

Saratoga Springs Hotel

Photo by Tom Dimopoulos from the PostStar

The famous song Bye, Bye Miss American Pie says bye-bye to Saratoga Springs, NY legend and lore.

For years upon years Saratogians have proudly laid claim to the origins of Don McLean’s famous 1960’s hit song American Pie….go ahead, I’ll wait while you hum along and then try to get that brain worm out of your head.

The story was that Don McLean, after a night of imbibing in local “spirits” had written the lyrics to the song on a napkin in a small Caroline Street bar called the Tin & Lint. So convincing was this tale that the owners of the bar had a plaque made to commemorate the booth…the seat…the very location was it was purported to have happened.

The song was later said to have been first performed at a Small Coffee house, Caffe Lena, owned by a local Saratoga Springs legend in her own right, Lena Spencer. Don McLean did have a soft spot in his heart for Lena Spencer, who had encouraged him early on in his music career, and he went on to perform American Pie and many more songs over the years in that tiny coffee house. But laying claim to the first public performance of the famous song is alas, also not true. According to the legendary performer, the song came to life in Philadelphia, PA; the closest Saratoga Springs can come to that is a one-way street named Phila Street. American Pie was first performed at Temple University and while many still regard Caffe Lena as a Temple of sorts, it must give up that claim to fame.

The American Pie brain worm still lives in the heads of many Saratogians who stubbornly refuse to believe that the seat in the corner of that little bar on Caroline Street in Downtown Saratoga Springs, NY was not where “drove my Chevy to the levee and the levee was dry” sprang to life one not-so-sober night in the 1960’s.

♪♫ Bye, Bye Miss American Pie ♪♫ from all of us here at our Saratoga Springs Hotel in beautiful Saratoga Springs, NY.

Book a stay at our Saratoga NY Hotel and mention this blog and we will send you home with a fresh homemade American (Apple) Pie.

On this day in Saratoga Arms history

On December 19, 1997, Kathleen and Noel Smith purchased a dilapidated old rooming house on Broadway. It took great vision (and a very helpful local bank) to renovate, restore and reopen this 1870 building as Saratoga Arms a sixteen-room hotel in 1998. As we reflect upon the past 14 years, we are thankful for the changes that our Saratoga Springs Hotel has brought into our lives.

  • In 1999, The Preservation Foundation recognized the restoration effort as a positive contribution to the preservation of the historic downtown district.
  • In 2002, Amy Smith, the eldest Smith daughter, joined the family business as General Manager.
  • In 2005, a new addition that doubled the size of Saratoga Arms to 31 rooms was opened with an executive meeting room and workout facilities, just in time to welcome Skidmore graduation parents and families.
  • In 2009, Sheila Smith Sperling, the middle of the three Smith daughters, joined the family business as Group Sales Manager.
  • Interspersed over the years, 6 grandchildren have expanded the family, possibly assuring that the family business will continue for a third generation.
  • Over 60,000 guests have walked through our doors, some famous, some infamous and many not so famous guests including politicians, celebrities and horse breeders. Those who return year after year are more than just guests, they have become good friends.
  • We have seen the changing times from CD players to iPod alarm clocks, old tube television to flat screens, corded high speed internet access to wireless throughout, and a user-friendly interactive website with all the bells and whistles of the digital age.
Although the past 14 years have brought many changes to our Saratoga Springs Bed and Breakfast, those that have remained constant are the most important–Noel still makes the breakfast each morning, Kathleen remains the quintessential social engineer and Judy takes great pride in making every guest’s stay a special one.
Thanks to all of our guests, the Saratoga Springs community and a hardworking Saratoga Arms family for making the first 14 years such a success. Just imagine what the next 14 years will hold for Saratoga Arms.
Saratoga Springs Hotel

Saratoga Springs Victorian Streetwalk Turns 25

It’s the silver anniversary of Saratoga Springs’ holiday kick off extravaganza near Saratoga Arms. This Upstate New York city is transformed into a Victorian Winter Wonderland on December 1, 2011 from 6-10pm. The main street of Broadway is closed to vehicle traffic as thousands of people take to the streets.

There are over 50 venues of entertainment, from musicians and singers to magicians and Santa himself, there to delight old and young. Our Saratoga Springs Hotel always has a caroling group on the front steps. And many dress in traditional Victorian outfits for the evening.

The shops stay open and many locations serve free hot beverages and treats. It is a wonderful way to start your holiday season.

Amy and Sheila, the Smith sisters from our Saratoga Springs Bed and Breakfast, dressed as Victorian ladies during last year’s streetwalk. Take a peak at their experience.

Top 10 Interesting Tidbits About the Saratoga Lip Dub

On September 1, 2011, residents from Saratoga Springs, NY participated in a citywide Lip Dub. People in costume (many with props) lined the downtown street to lip sync to 3 Train songs. On September 27th, the premiere of the finished product was shown on the big screen of The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) and we have the full video below for your enjoyment.

We have tabulated our list of the 10 things you might not know about the Saratoga Lip Dub…interesting behind the scenes morsels, a little idea of who these people are, and just a few reasons why Saratoga Springs is a great place to live and a better place to visit. Our list is in chronological order. So as you watch, read our list and follow along.

1. Shauna Sutton, Deputy Mayor of Saratoga Springs, had the “Hey Soul Sister” lyrics taped to her back for anyone behind her to read. She is located at the beginning of the video at the Saratoga Springs City Center, dressed in a blue suit.

2. The folks seen crossing the street from the City Center to the Stewarts Ice Cream cow are actors from the Saratoga Shakespeare Company, a great summer theatre in Congress Park.

3. The porch of Saratoga Arms was filled with many, many, many family members, friends, neighbors, classmates and members of Saratoga Pride.

4. The large wagon filled with garden fresh vegetables (the woman was singing into a zucchini) was from local farms that participate in the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, just voted the 2nd best medium sized farmers market in the country.

5. The Victorian Era dressed people walking across the street participate every year at the Saratoga Springs Victorian Street Walk. The Street Walk will be held this year on Thursday, December 1, 2011.

6. No people or animals were injured during the making of this video. The boy on the stretcher was an actor and we have a wonderful city hospital:)

7. The white t-shirts and people holding beer steins represent the annual Chowderfest and our citywide Brewfest. And remember, Saratoga Arms offers Ultimate Winter Beer Weekends!!

8. What is the poster of the crazy-haired lady with all of the squigglies? Why, it’s the Saratoga Springs Annual First Night, a New Year’s Eve event with music all over the city…and fireworks at midnight.

9. I have looked but I have never seen a human slot machine or life sized dice at the Saratoga Casino and Raceway.  I’m still looking though.  What would be the return?

10. Over 1,000 people attended the finale in historic Congress Park. What a great way to spend a summer afternoon.

 

 

A Rare Mansion Tour of the Artists’ Retreat, Yaddo

Yaddo is something of a Saratoga Springs legend and mystery. This upstate New York artists’ retreat has been an haven of privacy and focus for many famous artists since its doors were first opened in 1926. Each year more than 200 individuals are invited to spend anywhere from two weeks to two months to hone their craft. Many renowned artists have spent time living and working at Yaddo through the years including John Cheever, Truman Capote, Langston Hughes and Sylvia Plath – just to name a few.

Rarely has Yaddo opened its doors to the public. The only public areas are the lovely outdoor gardens that grace the 400-acre estate. Yet on September 18, Yaddo is opening its doors for the first time in 8 years for a public tour of the Yaddo Mansion and West House. Visitors will see the wonderful architecture of these houses, including enormous stained glass windows, fireplace mosaics and original furnishings and artwork. The 2-hour tour also includes the viewing of artists’ studios and outdoor burial grounds.

The event will be held rain or shine at a rate of $40 per person. The 2-hour tour slots fill quickly and the only remaining reservation times available are September 18th at 8:30am or 4:00pm. Reservations are ONLY available by advance booking via Yaddo’s website. Please note that the final day for placing a reservation will be Thursday, September 15th at 5:00pm.

Take this opportunity to peek into an era and place that few ever get to see. It may be another decade before the folks at Yaddo open their door again.

To get an inside look, click the Yaddo Mansion below for a video tour.

Saratoga Springs NY Hotel

Courtesy of Lina via Flickr

 

Saratoga Arms Participates in the Saratoga Lip Dub

Friends and family of Saratoga Arms were featured in a city-wide Lip Dub. A Lip Dub…what is that? It is a one take, unedited lip sync that has become all the rage on YouTube. Being the brainchild of the Saratoga County Chamber, they thought it would be a great way to promote the city. The video featured 3 Train songs (their drummer is a Saratoga Springs grad and classmate of Saratoga Arms’ own Sheila Smith) and incorporated between 3,000 – 5,000 people along the main street of Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs.

The porch of our Saratoga Springs Hotel was a Lip Dub destination and the 50 volunteers did a great job. Amy and Sheila from Saratoga Arms take you on a behind the scenes view of the day.

The premiere will be held on September 27th, between 6 – 8 pm at the Saratoga Springs City Center. At that time, it will go live on YouTube and other Internet sites. We are looking for over 10 million views. Be sure to keep a look out for Saratoga Lip Dub!

 

Hurricane Earl is not visiting Saratoga Springs!

Come inland, upstate or climb off that yacht.

Join us for the final weekend of the 142nd meet at Saratoga Race Course, America’s oldest racecourse.  We offer refuge from the storm and a weekend to remember. The Woodward, The Hopeful and The Spinaway are the featured races.  Place your bets and cheer on your favorites before this racing season is put in the history books. Take home a souvenir long sleeve tee shirt,  the final NYRA giveaway, with your Sunday admission to the track.

Final stretch activities on Saturday and Sunday, include music festivals and street entertainment, just off our front porch and up and down Broadway.  Sam the Bugler will soon sound his final call to the Post…listen closely he’s calling you.

The restaurants, the shops and the charm that is Saratoga are beckoning… now and into the fall season.   Saratoga Arms is the hotel that offers a four-star experience with a welcome home atmosphere.  We have a room just for you.