A Vision for Saratoga Springs
Gideon Putnam saw the potential for building a great community around a natural attraction.
By the time of his untimely death at age 49 in 1812 (from injuries suffered during construction of Congress Hall), Gideon Putnam had built a tavern, enlarged it into a hotel, tubed and improved several springs, laid out a main street, and donated land for a church, a school, and a cemetery.
He believed fervently in the future of Saratoga Springs. Ironically, he was the first individual to be laid to rest in the burying ground he created.
Gideon’s widow Doanda and several children remained in the community, completing work on Congress Hall and continuing to operate Union Hall. Meanwhile, other entrepreneurs built rival hotels, and more amenities intended to draw visitors appeared.
Despite serious competition for a time from nearby rival Ballston Spa, Saratoga Springs had emerged by midcentury as one of the nation’s most popular resort attractions - success that would have astonished even Gideon Putnam.