Yaddo is Officially a National Historic Landmark

July 30, 2014

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Paul Tonko recently unveiled a plaque officially designating Yaddo Mansion, the secluded property of the famed artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, NY, as a National Historic Landmark this past Saturday. Standing in front of the mansion and speaking to the crowd of artists and political leaders in attendance at the ceremony, Rep. Tonko said, “It’s my belief that lofty infrastructures inspire lofty creativity. Great things happen here.”

Yaddo, founded in 1900 by financier Spencer Trask and his wife Katrina, and made up of twenty structures and 400 acres, houses about 200 artists each year. Since visiting artists were first welcomed to the property in 1926, thousands have held residencies there, including Truman Capote, Williams Carlos Williams, Saul Bellow, James Baldwin, Sylvia Plath, David Sedaris, and Philip Roth, to name a few. Honors won by Yaddo writers include seventy-one Pulitzer prizes, sixty-eight National Book Awards, three Academy Awards and the Nobel Prize (awarded to novelist Saul Bellow).

In addition to its presence in the literary community, the land has a storied history dating to a 1784 purchase by Southern German immigrant and American Revolutionary soldier Jacobus Barhyte.

Elaine Richardson, the president of Yaddo, said that plans to maintain the building are currently in the works. “We have begun to reach out to people and think about what it is going to take to really be able to guarantee that these buildings provide good working conditions for the next generation of talented and remarkable artists.”

According to a factsheet released by Yaddo to reporters on Saturday, millions of dollars will go into the restoration and maintenance. “Recognizing its responsibility for the maintenance of one of this country’s cultural treasures, Yaddo anticipates a multi-million investment in the infrastructure and stabilization of its facilities over the next three to five years, based on a comprehensive Facilities Master Plan,” the factsheet said.

U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar first announced Yaddo a National Historic Landmark in March 2013. The Secretary of the Interior awards National Historic Landmark status to historic properties that “possess exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.”

Learn more at The Saratogian and check out application guidelines at Yaddo.org.


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