Saratoga County

Officials consider cost of Canfield Casino plaster fix

Deteriorating plaster molding in the dining room and parlor of the Canfield Casino in Congress Park

Deteriorating plaster molding in the dining room and parlor of the Canfield Casino in Congress Park has been surveyed by experts to give city officials an idea of the cost and scope of the repairs.

Cost estimates are in the $450,000 range for a project that would have to be done by plaster restoration specialists and could close parts of the Casino for several months, city officials said this week.

No decision has yet been made on when the project will be started.

The plaster survey was done by architects Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker of Albany, the same firm that was involved in the restoration of the state Capitol building in Albany.

The plaster work is just one of several projects the city is pursuing in the historic building that is regularly rented out by the city for weddings and receptions throughout the year.

Assistant city engineer Deborah LaBreche told the City Council recently about the Casino work that has been done in recent years and will be done this year, including moisture control work in the basement and reinforcement of the Casino’s first floor.

Water seeping into the Casino’s basement, which has a dirt floor in many places, causes deterioration of structural beams and other support mechanisms.

LaBreche said the Casino was built in a very wet location and has required a variety of drainage and moisture prevention measures over the years.

The first section of the Casino was opened as a gambling club in 1870 by prize-fighter and later congressman John Morrissey. In 1871, a parlor was added and in 1902, Richard Canfield opened the large, ornate dining room, according to James Parillo, director of the Saratoga Springs History Museum, which is located in the Casino.

The city of Saratoga Springs owns the historic building and sets aside money in the city’s capital budget to maintain and renovate the landmark.

Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco said between money remaining from the 2010 capital budget and money in this year’s capital budget, about $500,000 is earmarked for Casino projects.

Other projects

The stairway and sidewalk at the museum entrance to the building will be done this year along with the basement work, Scirocco said.

Exterior window frame and woodwork restoration is also planned this year. The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has reviewed these plans. The original wooden window frames must be restored, not replaced, according to historic preservation guidelines.

Last construction season, the area where the roof drains outside the west side of the Casino was completely renovated and a catch basin installed so the water does not pond along the building but, instead, runs into a nearby brook.

Before the catch basin and improved roof drain were installed there were constant water problems under the stairway and along the west side of the building, LaBreche said.

Moisture control work was also done on the east side of the building some years ago, and in 2005 a portion of the masonry wall on the Casino’s west side was rebuilt after part of the wall collapsed.

“The City Council has been dedicated to preserving the building,” LaBreche said. “We are doing it quietly, behind the scenes.”

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