Preservationists have been united in their opposition to any changes at New York’s historic Saratoga Race Course that would compromise or negatively affect the track’s Victorian charm. And they seem so far to have friends in all the right places. As part of a recently completed round of improvements totaling $1.3 million, the grandstand’s 10,000 sq. ft. clubhouse roof was removed and replaced. And as before, it is topped again with hand-crafted copper standing seam. The system’s panels, as well as all necessary flashings, trim, gutters, etc., were fabricated and installed by WeatherGuard Roofing Co., a Tecta America Company, of Schenectady, NY. The 16 oz. copper chosen for the job was manufactured by Revere Copper—a Rome, NY, company with a rich history of its own. The material supplier was Admiral Building Products, also of New York.
Saratoga Race Course, located in Saratoga Springs in upstate New York, has been in operation since 1864. When people come to the track—whether vacationers, celebrities or the elite echelons of high society—they come not just to watch the ponies run, but to experience the atmosphere surrounding one of America’s iconic racing venues. Maintaining the track’s photogenic appearance was the highest priority with regard to the new clubhouse roof. “The integrity of the architecture and the historical character were paramount,” Saratoga Facility Manager Charles Wheeler has said of the project. With regard to the decision to match the original material, he said, “Copper was the only material on the list. There really was no other option.”
The New York Racing Association, of which Wheeler is a member, has operated the historic track for nearly a half century and scheduled the roof replacement and several other key projects for completion in time for the start of the 2007 racing season. Those other projects included the renovation of the horse barns, adding hot water in all restrooms, and the placement of 37 new covered television-viewing areas to make it easier for visitors to follow the action when not at trackside.
Despite the importance of the clubhouse roof project in the grand scheme of things, the work itself was business as usual for WeatherGuard. The company has a wealth of experience in the fabrication and installation of all types of metal roofing on all types of projects, including ones of an historically sensitive nature. “It went extremely well,” said Steve Bradt, the project manager. He concurred with the NYRA’s choice of copper for the project, saying it was “necessary for the historic preservation of Saratoga.”