The War Memorial Bandstand
Congress Park
Built - 1931

Saratoga Springs is located in east-central New York state at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains and west of the Hudson River. The area is quite a historical region since not only did an important Revolutionary War battle of Saratoga play out but the area is also rich in numerous natural mineral springs. These springs were long known to the Indians of the region for their therapeutic value and then later to the white settlers and visitors as early as 1771 with some of the most fashionable spas in the country established during the 19th century with ornate Victorian hotels and beautiful mansions and estates built.
Right in the center of town sits Congress Park which is a large tract of land set aside by the city years ago and is adorned with beautiful flowers and Victorian-era fountains and magnificent statues and a Greek pavilion.
In 1931, the American Legion Auxiliary of Adirondack Post 70 decided also that a memorial should be built as a "Tribute to the Saratogians who served in World War 1 and a recognition of those who were killed in action or died in the service." Spearheaded by Miss Evelyn Barrett, the group urged on the project and was able to procure the $20,000 for the funding and building with architects LeFarge, Warren & Clark being hired for the planning stage of the structure with a local mason firm, Ritchie Brothers, building the memoiral and bandstand. The style chosen was as a replica of the Temple of Love in Paris which was an octagonal building open to the sky with a Greek Simplicity format. The building is constructed of pink granite and has eight Doric columns.. On six of the columns are names of all of the Saratogians who served in World War 1 - 800 in all from all branches of the U. S. military along with the Red Cross and with British and French forces. On the central and larger pilaster are the names of those who made the greatest sacrifice in giving their lives. In years following, granite markers were also added honoring veterans of World War 2, the Korean War, and in Viet Nam. On the center of the floor is another memorial, a 5-pointed gold bronze star as a tribute to the Gold Star Mothers of World War 1. Surrounding this imposing star is a circlet of bronze with the inscription: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
Upon completion of this imposing structure, built on the serene setting of the Lake in Congress Park, a very special dedication ceremony took place on Sunday, June 14, 1931 which was also Flag Day as chosen by the Auxiliary. Gold Star Mothers unveiled the tablets with 3,000 residents and visitors in the area attending. Red, white and blue ribbons encircled the pillars and closed the entrance with American flags draped over the tablets. A contingent of military personnel were also in attendance along with the many civilians. The structure was rededicated in 1986 after it was rehabilitated at a cost of $28,575.
The memorial/bandstand was originally named the World War Memorial but was shorted to the War Memorial. Another structure occupied the same site from 1882 to 1929 but had to be demolished due to its decay after many years of service to the community. The present bandstand is now decades old and since it has been built very sturdily, should be of service to the community for many years to come.
Memorial Day parades have ended at the War Memorial Bandstand each year with occasional wedding ceremonies and other community events along with numerous band concerts in this picturesque setting within this park which is a major draw to the area.
Ellen M. DeLalla, Local Historian
Saratoga Springs Library

No comments: