Victorian splendor

The tired, thirsty and hungry are welcome at the Adelphi. So are the curious. On a recent summer


The tired, thirsty and hungry are welcome at the Adelphi.

So are the curious. On a recent summer day, two people entered the elegant lobby of Saratoga Springs’ landmark Victorian hotel and inspected the magentaand cream-colored hand stencils on the walls and ceilings, chairs topped with plush red fabric, the giant fern fronds and other vases full of flowers.

“We don’t mind,” said Sheila Parkert, who has owned the distinctive, four-story building across from the city’s Phila Street since 1979.

There’s a lot to see, for both visitors and guests. Parkert, who bought and renovated the Adelphi with her husband, the late Gregg Siefker, said people like the ambience and opulence of the lobby, parlor, hallways and rooms. A grand staircase, old-fashioned ceiling fans, antique lamps and main desk — the latter was part of the hotel when it opened during the summer of 1877 — are among the points of interest.

Parkert said former railroad conductor William McCaffrey built the Adelphi on the site of the Old Adelphia Hotel in the mid-1870s. With only 70 rooms, it was smaller than the more well-known downtown hotels — the Grand Union and United States — but people were attracted to the second-floor piazza. The giant, open-air gallery gave hotel guests chances to watch the hustle and bustle of Broadway from atmospheric surroundings. It still does — people sit in wicker chairs and love seats to watch the pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Bringing it back

The Adelphi, from the Greek adelphoi, “brothers,” eventually hit hard times. It had been closed for years when Parkert and Siefker, transplanted Nebraskans and a new Saratoga business couple, decided to buy the faded hotel for $100,000. Vandals had damaged the interior; the elements had nearly wrecked the roof.

The new owners started small. They opened the bar first; funds raised selling drinks and sandwiches helped renovate rooms one at a time. Now, 39 rooms are available for guests in the hotel, its bricks painted deep brown with cream-colored trim around the windows. Weekday prices during August start at $255 for a small room and rise to $430 for a grand suite; during the weekends, that range increases to $290-$540.

“Mostly, it’s for couples coming up for a romantic weekend getaway from New York, Boston and Montreal,” Parkert said. “And there’s a lot of racing people, and people involved in racing — trainers and owners.”

Guests have the chance to visit the outdoor swimming pool, surrounded by summer green, lattice-work fences, flagstones, urns and lounge chairs. Both guests and visitors pack what might be the Adelphi’s most popular component — the “Cafe Adelphi” offers Cosmopolitans, fruit daiquiris, cheesecake, pie and other diversions both indoors and outdoors.

The hotel does not operate a large kitchen and dining room; Parkert says that with dozens of restaurants within walking distance, she can persuade some people to visit her establishment for dessert. The courtyard accommodations include dozens of Adirondack chairs in forest green shades.

The Adelphi opens in June and closes for the season in October. People keep coming back, every season.

“I think it’s the history, and the fact that it’s just not another banal hotel chain, not just another rubber stamp,” Parkert said.

Categories: Life and Arts

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