SARATOGA SPRINGS — Work is underway to restore the Roosevelt II bathhouse in Saratoga Spa State Park.
On Tuesday, crews were working throughout the building as the bathhouse's original chandelier and two sconces waited in a corner to be restored to their former glory.
The state has pledged $2.2 million for renovation of the building, which has been vacant since the 1980s.
The project includes the installation of modern electrical, heating and plumbing systems, as well as restoration of the main lobby, restrooms and space for non-profit Coesa.
That organization, launched in 2015 by two Saratoga Springs attorneys, will be a health and wellness center once space in the building has been renovated. The work is expected to be done by the end of the year.
Coesa is slated to host programs, classes, retreats and yoga in a portion of the 18,000-square-foot building. Co-founder Libby Coreno said she and fellow co-founder Stephanie Ferradino are looking forward to developing world-class programming.
"Our vision is created solely around this particular location," she said. "We'll be offering holistic wellness leadership, as well as personal and community development programming in a space that's naturally intended for wellness and healing."
Ferradino added, "We identified a need in our community and decided we could bring a different way of looking at your health, well-being and happiness, and we wanted it to be here.
"Many of our friends travel for the types of things we'll offer, so we felt strongly that it was something that's needed in our community."
Alane Ball Chinian, regional director for New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said Saratoga Spa State Park was designed to meet health and wellness goals, as well as providing jobs.
"We wanted to continue that tradition," she said of incorporating Coesa into the former bathhouse.
Chinian said Coesa's space could also be used to host events in the park — especially during inclement weather.
The Gideon Putnam, which is overseen by Delaware North, operates the Roosevelt Baths and Spa across from the Roosevelt II bathhouse.
According to the Roosevelt Baths and Spa website, "Bathing was thought to treat heart disease and arthritis. Scientists believed that the bubbles in the mineral water dilated blood vessels and improved a patient's circulation."
The 42-bath facility, Chinian said, adaquetely accomodates the demand for mineral baths.
"There's a diminishing interest in bathing as a health and religious purpose," she said. "They were used prior to the invention of modern pharmaceuticals to treat cardiovascular and neurological diseases. The health benefits are still valued today, but not to the same extent."
The Lincoln and Washington bathhouses are also located in the park along South Broadway.
The bathhouses were built in the 1930s as part of President Franklin Roosevelt's Great Depression public works program.
Once phase one of restoration work to Roosevelt II bathhouse is complete, Chinian said another round of construction is possible. Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), Opera Saratoga and other arts organizations are often in need of more space, Chinian said.
"Before we move forward with another phase of construction, we'd have to come up with a use plan," she said. "That would have to be determined, and I think it will."