Groundbreaking Held for Saratoga Site Where the British Surrendered in 1777

 

Fort Immediate Release

October 17, 2017

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Groundbreaking Held for Saratoga Site Where the British Surrendered in 1777

(Saratoga, NY) On October 17, local dignitaries and project partners came together to kick-off a fundraising effort to construct a memorial on the historic grounds where British General John Burgoyne surrendered his sword to American General Horatio Gates at the conclusion of the Battles of Saratoga.

Plans call for the development of a memorial park on the 19-acre parcel about ½-mile south of Schuylerville, NY. The primary feature of the site will be a memorial wall featuring a bronze engraving depicting John Trumbull’s painting The Surrender of Burgoyne.

The project began nearly a decade ago when state officials, including Assemblyman Steve Engelbright and then Senator Roy McDonald, joined together to preserve the site. The project was the cause for the New York State Legislature to incorporate the Old Saratoga on the Hudson, a forerunner of the Historic Hudson-Hoosic Rivers Partnership, in 2006. The goal of the Partnership is to foster collaborative projects to protect and interpret sites of our natural and cultural heritage.

The Partnership brought together the Open Space Institute of New York and the Friends of Saratoga Battlefield as project partners. The Partnership is the project manager, Open Space Institute owns the land, and the Friends are responsible for fundraising. The event celebrated the completion of a management agreement that set the groundwork for construction, and allowed the Friends to begin fundraising.

The site is estimated to cost approximately $1 Million and the project is broken down into three phases. Pre-construction –the first phase of the project– has already been complete. This initial funding came primarily from State and Federal Grants, with assistance from the Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust, Children of the American Revolution, and the William Gundry Broughton Charitable Foundation. Phases II and III will complete the construction of the site will rely primarily on private donors.

Local dignitaries and major donors were on site to show their support for the project. Among them was major donor Mr. Thomas Hagen, Chairman of Erie Insurance Company, whose ancestor Jacob Bailey was among the Generals that were present at the Battles of Saratoga.  He was accompanied the Board of Directors and local representatives of Erie Insurance Company.

Also present was Senator Kathy Marchione, who applauded the development of the site.  Marchione is an advocate of regional heritage tourism development, and has supported the construction of the Champlain Canal Region Gateway Visitors Center in Schuylerville as a destination for learning about the 1777 campaign.

The ceremony was topped with a groundbreaking with fifteen shovels, representing the fifteen American generals present at the Surrender. Those shovels were presented to major donors that included Susan Dake of Stewart’s Shops, Dave Collins of D.A. Collins Construction Company, Libby Holmes of the Saratoga Foundation, Mr. Charles Wait of the Adirondack Trust Company, and his mother Jane Wait. Each has made a significant contribution towards completing the site.

Two battles were fought in Stillwater, NY in the fall of 1777. British General Burgoyne was defeated and retreated to the Schuylerville area. After several days of siege by General Horatio Gates, Northern Army forces of the United States of America, the British surrendered. For the first time ever, a British army surrendered. The victory helped convince France’s King Louis XVI to provide vital French support and turned the tide of the American Revolution. The New York Times has called it one of the most important battles in the last 1,000 years.

The goal is to begin construction in spring 2018 and hold a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of the site on October 17, 2018. Once complete, the partners intend to turn the site over to the National Park Service.

For more information or to make a donation, visit www.friendsofsaratogabattlefield.org.

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Photos Courtesy of Andrew Alberti