Saratoga Performing Arts Center - 108 Avenue of the Pines - Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
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East Congress Street
Saratoga Springs NY 12866

Theater Notes

× The Canfield Casino is one Saratoga Springs’ most treasured landmarks. The building was built as a gambling casino by John Morrissey. John Morrissey was born in 1831 and grew up in Troy, New York. He ended up in New York City and became part of Boss Tweed’s Tammany Hall network. He learned about fighting, politics and high society while in New York. In 1852 at age 21 he traveled to California for the gold rush. There he put his fighting skills to use as a professional boxer and in eventually became heavyweight champion.

Morrissey first came to Saratoga Springs in 1861 and operated a small gaming house on Matilda Street (Woodlawn Avenue). While he was only 30 years old, he was already an accomplished athlete and politicatian representing New York in Congress. He was also a founding member of the Saratoga Race Course. He knew that there was more money to be made and starting in 1867 he invested $190,000.00 to build an elegant casino. Opening in 1870, his Saratoga Club House was a draw for wealthy and prominent visitor’s world wide. Morrissry did not use the name Casino. Morrissey operated the Clubhouse during the summers until his untimely death in 1878 at the age of 47.

Owner ship passed to Albert Spencer and Charles Reed. In 1883 Richard Canfield took a partnership in the Saratoga Clubhouse and bought it outright the following year for $250,000. Canfield invested an estimated $800,000 in enhancing the building and the grounds of Congress Park to bring them up to the standards of the top European establishments. In 1902-3 he added a sumptuous dining room to the back of the Clubhouse fitting it with stained glass windows and an early form of air conditioning. He ordered marble statuary for the Italian gardens in the northeast corner of Congress Park. The elegant atmosphere made the cream of society feel welcome to bet their money on the Clubhouses’s many games of chance. Canfield was recognized as the King of the Gamblers; Saratoga Springs was seen as the American Monte Carlo.

However, anti-gambling sentiments increased in the first decade of the 20th Century. Canfield was forced to close his New York City casino, paying a stiff fine. In Saratoga Springs, he kept the Clubhouse going until 1907. He sold the building to the village for less than he had paid for it in 1911.
Capacity: 500
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