The not so Grand Union Hotel

Grand Union postcard

Yeah, today it's The Gap.

By Mike Hare

Here's a little something to toss out while you're sipping drinks at The Adelphi. Back in its heyday, this old Victorian gem offered something many of the Spa City's other hotels didn't. An open door policy.

A what?

Back in the 1870's Broadway in Saratoga was one long stretch of grand hotels, most notably, the famed Grand Union.

The Grand Union was owned by Henry Hilton (no relation to Paris or the modern hotel chain). You've probably heard of the Grand Union, or seen old postcards of its beautiful facade. But here's something you may not know. Hilton's doors weren't open to everyone. An anti-semite, he ran a "gentiles only" establishment, as did many of the other hotels in town. This type of discrimination lasted many years.

When William McCaffrey built The Adelphi Hotel in 1877, he made a point of making his rooms open to all, regardless of their faith. Some say McCaffrey was a better man. Others argue he was just a better businessman.

Like most of Broadway's old hotels, The Grand Union met with the wrecking ball in 1953. For years the property across from Congress Park was home to a supermarket and strip mall. Today it holds condominiums, GAP and Banana Republic.

William McCaffrey's Adelphi Hotel still stands. It was restored in the 1980's by Sheila Parkert, who has been running it ever since. Incidentally, if you want to own a piece
of Spa City history, it's up for sale.

Mike Hare is the author of Saratoga Lives and a Spa City tour guide.

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