One-of-a-Kind Antiques Sold Out of Historic Adelphi Hotel

1/26/2013 7:00 AM
By Paul Post N.Y. Correspondent

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — McKenzie Burke trailed behind as two muscular friends carried a piece of rustic, Adirondack-style furniture from the Adelphi Hotel.

It was a bed, made from birch, with a large A’ fashioned onto the headboard.

Burke helped out by carrying a length of birch log, not part of the bed. What’s it for?

“We’re not quite sure,” she laughed.

However, she was clearly thrilled to have it, just like the hundreds of others who turned out for a four-day estate sale at the 135-year-old hotel in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where countless antiques went home with new owners, including everything from heavy armoires to tiny soap dishes.

The Adelphi Hotel is one of only two old hotels left over from this historic resort city’s 19th-century glory years. New York-based Richbell Capital LLC, a real estate investment and development firm, purchased the 39-room hotel last April for $4.5 million. Plans now call for a major renovation to make it a year-round establishment.

Located on Broadway, in Saratoga Springs, it was open seasonally from May to October under previous owners.

For movie buffs, the Adelphi Hotel is seen briefly in the 1937 film, “Saratoga,” starring Clark Gable and Jean Harlow. The building is part of the backdrop in a busy downtown scene.

Kasandra and Jesse Carda have a 150-year-old house in Saratoga Springs.

“I’d love a Saratoga trunk,” she said. “We already have quite a few antiques. I’d like to get some age-appropriate pieces — desks, tables, mirrors.”

About 70 percent of the Adelphi Hotel’s contents, including the original front desk and a long mirror above it, have been put in storage. Most items will be incorporated into the renovation, to preserve the hotel’s Victorian-era charm and ambience.

The remaining 30 percent was sold during the Jan. 9-12 estate sale, which saw long lines of people line up outside in freezing cold temperatures for a chance to buy something unique. Items ran the gamut from stained glass, oil lamps and glass vases to larger pieces such as beds, vanities and mirror-topped dressers.

Each shopper was allotted 30 minutes to find and buy something they wanted.

“What a day to be outside,” said Donna Hays, who stood in line for well over an hour. “I just want one thing, a little piece of history. It’s worth it.”

Kathy Allen, a retired history teacher, owns School House Treasures Antiques in neighboring Montgomery County, N.Y.

“Most of it’s vintage antiques,” she said, of the hotel’s contents. “Most of them are original pieces. I’m thrilled to have them. We didn’t know what we were going to find.”

She her husband, Richard, loaded a wicker side table and chairs from the hotel’s bar into the back of their car.

Joyce Rescigno, of Stillwater, N.Y., exited the hotel with a grin as she clutched an antique desk-top lamp.

“I thought it was authentic looking,” she said. “I’m glad it’s (the Adelphi) reopening and I’m glad it’s going to be year-round.”

Plans call for welcoming guests back in time for this summer’s 150th Saratoga Race Course anniversary. However, hotel General Manager Luke Duggan said there is no definite timeline for completion.

“They want to do it right, take their time and do it correctly,” he said. “When you’re dealing with a 135-year-old building there’s going to be some challenging aspects. They’ve got to get some engineers in there to get a good understanding about what’s needed to secure the building’s structural integrity.”

Duggan said he was surprised at local residents’ passion and how connected they are to the old hotel. Some people bought something inexpensive like a $2 soap dish, just to say they had something from the Adelphi. Others left with $1,000 pieces of furniture.

“One lady bought an old bike that she said she was going to put in her garden,” Duggan said. “Another woman got a chair that just needs some love and attention. That’s going to be her project, reupholstering it.”

“It was fun to see the expressions on people’s faces when they left with something they wanted,” he said. “Everyone was pretty excited.”

Lisa Noonan, of Saratoga Springs, said, “I came here looking for a mirror. I got these four chairs with the original cushions. There were six and somebody else wanted some, so I said, You can have the last two.’ I couldn’t take them all.”

Outside, Noonan stacked up other furniture on the sidewalk that she just couldn’t resist, especially at such reasonable prices — $10 for wooden chairs; $30 for a drop-leaf table. “Now the problem is how to get this stuff out of here,” she laughed.

Thankfully, her son has a pickup truck.

Tom Carringi of Saratoga Springs found a brass, black marble-topped light stand to his liking for $150.

“It’s part of the history of this hotel, one of the last old hotels still standing,” he said.

Michelle Slone of Wilton, N.Y., said, “I wanted to get something for each of my kids who grew up in Saratoga and don’t live here any more.”

Her son and daughter, who live in Vermont and New Hampshire, respectively, now have a chair and table from the Adelphi Hotel.

People took time out of busy workday schedules for the sale, simply because it was such a rare opportunity. Local resident Tom Frost smiled as he shuffled his feet to stay warm.

“I’m just curious, but I’m running out of curiosity real fast,” he said.

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