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Who, What, When
Casino museum is a sure bet
The Saratoga Club has long been known as Canfield Casino, after Richard Canfield, who bought it in 1894 and added the magnificent Beaux Arts ballroom in the back. From the grand double-arched windows and immense chandeliers of the parlor to the stained-glass windows in the barrel-vaulted ballroom ceiling, the casino was built to impress. And it still does.
Owned by the city and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Canfield Casino today is home to the Saratoga Springs Historical Society, the George S. Bolster Collection of Saratoga photographs, and the Beatrice Sweeney Archive of documents and business records (named for Bea Swartfigure Sweeney ’37, longtime city historian).
Visitors to the Historical Society’s museum begin in
Lining the stairways are inductees into the “history hall of fame,” begun in 2005—icons such as Lucy Skidmore Scribner, Yaddo’s Spencer Trask, author Frank Sullivan, folk-music maven Lena Spencer, and, yes, gaming entrepreneur John Morrissey.
Morrissey’s elite gambling establishment thrived into the 20th century, but Richard Canfield’s luck ran out when anti-gambling pressures forced him to close its doors in 1907. He sold the building, and the Italian gardens he had created behind it, to the city in 1911. In Morrissey’s day the casino catered strictly to gentleman high-rollers from out of town. These days it’s the locals who book their weddings at Canfield Casino, where the opulent setting and warm shadow of history offer the perfect ambience for taking a chance on love.
If you’re on one of those wedding guest lists, you can admire the casino’s grand parlor and ballroom for free. Otherwise you’ll have to pony up a few bucks and attend the annual summer antique show, an Albany Symphony concert, or any of a number of charitable events booked there throughout the year (here’s a calendar). It’s a safe bet you will be impressed. —KG
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