Saratoga County

Yaddo pergola being replaced

By this summer, blooming roses will accent gleaming white columns at Yaddo.

By this summer, blooming roses will accent gleaming white columns at Yaddo.

Workers from Western Building Restoration began this week to rebuild the pergola at the gardens after 13 years of fundraising to come up with the necessary $400,000.

The pergola, with its Ionic columns, stretches for 180 feet, almost the entire length of the rose garden.

A mason and a laborer from the Albany-based company will be on site until they finish the installation, which could happen by the end of May. Tom Keays and George Baldwin will build 38 columns and put in place new wooden slats across the top of most of the pergola and a lead-coated copper roof across a middle portion.

It’s slow going on the column project, since the eight handmade terra cotta pieces that make up each column have to be stacked on top of each other exactly right before being cemented into place.

“It’s intricate. It takes time; that’s the problem,” Baldwin said.

Yaddo spokeswoman Lesley Leduc said she was surprised to see the workers at the garden already, despite the warm weather. “We still have a considerable amount of snow over there,” she said.

The new pergola is replacing one that was installed when the gardens were started at the beginning of the 20th century.

“Everything is exactly the same. The idea is to replicate it exactly,” Leduc said.

The old columns were cracked, chipped and even had a few holes that allowed animals to live inside the columns.

“All of the terra cotta was starting to deteriorate,” Leduc said.

Boston Valley Terra Cotta in Orchard Park crafted the column pieces, coated them with a porcelain glaze, then fit them together and numbered them so they could be put together later, she said.

Unlike machine-made pieces, they’re not completely identical. “They’re not exact,” Baldwin said.

He demolished the old columns last fall.

The Yaddo Garden Association started raising money for the pergola in 1995.

The biggest financial gifts to cover it were $80,000 from the Adirondack Trust Co., $50,000 from the Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust, $49,200 from the Wait family, $25,000 from the Hedbring Foundation, $15,000 from the Saratoga Springs Rotary Club and $10,000 from the Phyllis Dake Foundation.

Yaddo’s 400-acre estate houses an artists’ community offering two-week to two-month residencies. It was founded in 1900 by financier Spencer Trask and his wife Katrina, who was also a poet.

The 10-acre public portion also includes a rock garden.

The Yaddo gardens are open to the public from 8 a.m. to dusk for free. Guided tours cost $5 a person and start June 21, running at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through September and also on Tuesdays during racing season.

Volunteers care for the gardens during the warm months. Returning volunteers start working at the gardens April 26, and new volunteers start at 9 a.m. May 3.

Volunteers work Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from spring through October from 9 a.m. to noon.

The Yaddo Garden Association is also seeking new docents to lead garden tours. A docent meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 13 at the Saratoga Springs Public Library.

For more information, call Yaddo at 584-0746.

Categories: Schenectady County

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