Preservation Foundation Raises Concerns Over Skidmore College’s Plans For Its Entrance

[JK:The Saratoga Perservation Society has raised objections to the planned reconstruction of the Skidmore entrance on North Broadway. Here is their release]

The Foundation appreciates the important role that Skidmore College has in our community as an educational institution and the economic benefits it provides as well as it appreciates the college’s desire to be more visible on North Broadway. The Foundation has reviewed the proposed changes to the North Broadway entrance of Skidmore College that will be discussed at tomorrow’s Design Review Commission meeting, June 5th at 7PM at 15 Vanderbilt Avenue. The Foundation has significant concerns about the proposed entrance, which can be viewed here. These concerns have been discussed with Skidmore representatives and we look forward to continuing our open discussion about this proposal with Skidmore College and the local community.

Historically, North Broadway was a wide, tree-lined street with large residences that led through what is today known as the North Woods to Maple Avenue. The introduction of six signs, two of which are monolithic stone walls with large signage; the widening of the road; changing the pavement material and color; introducing red pavers to the sidewalk; and landscaping would introduce incompatible features that are uncharacteristic of the streetscape and significantly compromise the integrity and the spatial relationship of the historic district.  It creates a visual barrier and gives the false impression that the road beyond it is owned by Skidmore College and is private property, not a public street that leads to the North Woods. The proposed entrance also creates the false impression that the properties to the east and west were once part of one large private estate rather than multiple properties.

The Foundation recommends that if Skidmore College wants to significantly enhance its entrance that it should do so on its private property not on North Broadway or in the public right-of-way.  If there are concerns about way-finding for the campus, including the Admissions Office and other offices on the east side of North Broadway, the Foundation feels that there are less obtrusive ways to address wayfinding than what is currently proposed. The Foundation’s full comments on the proposed entrance can be read here.

If you have any concerns or comments please join us at tomorrow’s DRC meeting.

Thank you to our members and friends for your support!

2 thoughts on “Preservation Foundation Raises Concerns Over Skidmore College’s Plans For Its Entrance”

  1. I can appreciate the college’s intent to create this entrance to embrace both sides of North Broadway at this location, since historically it is not simply the new campus on the old 1879 1500-acre Woodlawn estate, but one that has evolved over half a century to occupy property on both sides of the road as has the architectural treatment of residences in this designated historic district neighborhood.

    The change in paving and color may be more dramatic than I would like, but I am reminded of the entrances to Vassar College off a similar roadway that incorporated two traffic circles to address local and university traffic. I’m not suggesting a traffic circle but identifying this campus entrance with its admissions to the right and the larger campus to the left should be permitted and the college its ability to readdress its portal.

    As one who has followed our local preservation since its inception and before the Foundation added to its mission statement the nuance of enhancement, we must realize, that our city has accepted new constructions that follow Historic Review Guidelines but others that have been outside those instructions by permitting faux facades and removals of historic structures and fabrics for enhanced perceptions of the historic story.

    Are we strictly following the North Broadway presentation of the last century when its double elm tree allée existed on either side on both planting strips before the campus was a consideration? Has our perception of those historic images on the Bolster prints truly our guide for all the work that has transpired over the last 75 years? Is recognizing the fact that the almost 100 year of university located across town that occupies property on both of the street requesting to readdress their entry portal any different than our acceptance of much of the architectural landscapes that have been modified to accommodate modern requirements of both use and signage?

    We’ve moved and removed buildings, permitted new compatible constructions that add to this city’s architectural heritage, accommodated requests for branding and signage that permitted such additions to our 19th century main street such as electronic signboards, so why not a double-sided entrance for a double entry college campus? The proposed use of a complementary stone element that reinforces the stone that provides this campus with barriers is appropriate.

    Since the city is responsible for the street, I would think that changing its paving and color an overreach. On the other hand, providing signage at both sides on the planting strip to establish its revitalized entrance is not, considering accommodations that have been made by this city over the last several decades on properties on Broadway that incorporated both additions and embellishments.

    On a street that accommodates French Chateaus, in a district that permitted the removal of a Lincoln era home and the disassembly of a noteworthy Tech-Built home, I think that this accommodation for our college of double signage is neither intolerable or unacceptable.


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