Saratoga County

Congress Park’s aged white pines examined

The first step in the restoration of the Spencer Trask Memorial and Spirit of Life sculpture started

The first step in the restoration of the Spencer Trask Memorial and Spirit of Life sculpture started Friday with a risk assessment of pine trees nearly a century old behind the memorial.

Roger Dziengeleski, senior forester for Finch Paper Forest Management, said the white pine trees in Congress Park were probably planted when the memorial was completed in 1915.

“They have had pretty good longevity,” Dziengeleski said. The assessment will help determine if some of the trees need to be removed.

Finch foresters used a special drill to take a core sample from each of the about 10 pine trees. They also measured the tree trunks and assessed the size of their crowns.

The foresters bored into the trees a little more than a foot using a hollow drill bit and removed a quarter-inch core that will be analyzed for the presence of heart-rot. The core sample also will determine the age and growth rate of the trees.

One of the reasons the trees are still standing is that they are in a sheltered location, according to Dziengeleski. The forester said tall buildings across Broadway from Congress Park block the occasional strong westerly winds that might otherwise knock them down

Finch Paper Forest Management of Glens Falls is providing the risk assessment of the trees at no cost. The information gathered and comments about the health of the trees will be given to the Saratoga Springs Department of Public Works and the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation.

The foundation and the city have joined forces in a four-year campaign to restore the Spencer Trask Memorial and the Spirit of Life sculpture, the centerpiece of the memorial.

Much of the restoration work will focus on the memorial’s reflecting pool, walls and other elements, including the trees and shrubs planted around it to create a green framework for the art. The foundation and the city will make the final determination on what will be done with the trees.

The restoration campaign was launched in late September by the preservation foundation and the city.

June 26, 2015, is the centennial of the memorial that was commissioned by Katrina Trask, the wife of Spencer Trask, and businessman George Foster Peabody in honor of Katrina’s late husband. The city and foundation hope to have the memorial completely restored by this date.

Samantha Bosshart, executive director of the preservation foundation, on Friday said it will take time for the foresters to study the core samples and other measurements before they can provide a risk assessment. She anticipates an assessment report will be issued within the next two to three weeks.

City officials are afraid some of the towering old pine trees might be blown down and damage the Spirit of Life sculpture, which was created by Daniel Chester French, the same American artist who created the seated Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

Henry Bacon designed the reflecting pool and architectural masonry elements for the Trask Memorial.

The preservation foundation asked Finch Forest Management to complete an assessment of the memorial’s trees, similar to the assessment the foresters conducted several years ago along the Avenue of Pines in the Saratoga Spa State Park.

“The city is appreciative of Finch’s contribution to the project and is looking forward to getting this data, an important step in moving forward with the restoration efforts of the campaign.” said city Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco in a new release.

Fundraising is a major element of the restoration campaign. For example, the preservation foundation will host a Pints for Preservation Pub Crawl on Oct. 15, starting at 2 p.m. at the Olde Bryan Inn on Maple Avenue. Tickets are $25 per person. For more information on the fundraising event, go to

Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply