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Yaddo seeking historical landmark status

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Albany/HV: Yaddo seeking historical landmark status
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Some of the world's most accomplished names in art, literature and music all spent time working on their craft in Saratoga Springs. As YNN's Matt Hunter explains, there's a growing push to ensure Yaddo stays open to future generations of artists.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – "Every time I come here, I hear someone talk about ghosts,” author Zia Haider Rahman said. “You don't have to believe in ghosts to understand why people talk about ghosts. One look at the roll call of who's been here makes you understand."

The list of names who have stayed at Yaddo could double as a catalog of the 20th century's greatest cultural contributors. Since its founding in 1900, thousands of authors, artists and composers like Truman Capote, Sylvia Plath and Leonard Bernstein have accomplished some of their best work at the picturesque Saratoga retreat.

"’100 years of making America culture’ is how Yaddo likes to describe itself,” said Rahman, who’s currently residing at Yaddo for the seventh time. “That sounds like hyperbole until you look at that roll call."

Nestled in between Saratoga Race Course and I-87, Yaddo's 400 acres and lush gardens still offer respite and inspiration to artists like Rahman, whose first novel is set to come out in the year ahead. The property is the former home of financier Spencer Trask and his wife, Katrina.

"I get more done in a day at Yaddo than in any metropolitan month," said Rahman, who most recently resided in London.

With more than a dozen century-old buildings and over 400 acres of property, it's no surprise that maintaining Yaddo's beauty costs a great sum of money.

Hoping to get assistance with those expenses, the board of directors has applied to get Yaddo designated as a national historic landmark.

"We've based that application primarily on the work that has been done by the artists who have come through our doors over the past 100 years and the importance that has had to American culture,” said Lesley Leduc, Yaddo’s public affairs coordinator.

Both Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer have written letters in support of Yaddo's application, which will be reviewed by the Department of the Interior next month.

While funding would help preserve its aging structures, many view it as an investment in its future.

"There's a passion here,” Rahman said. “It’s a place of magic, it’s a magical place.”

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