Minnie Clark Bolster's personal Saratoga museum

minnie bolster collection composite

More than 50 years ago in a Vermont antique shop, Minnie Clark Bolster asked her husband if he thought $3 was too much to spend on an old Saratoga bottle. Years later she would sell that bottle for $75. But more important than the profit, that day marked the beginning of an incredible collection of Saratoga history.

The collection came to include chairs, tables, and skeleton keys from the famous Saratoga hotels; photos by her brother-in-law, George Bolster; postcards; books; paintings; stories; and more. It takes up much of her home.

Bolster herself is a treasure trove of Saratoga history. Born in the Spa City in 1920, she's a 1938 graduate of Saratoga Springs High School who worked for lawyers and judges in the city for most of her life. She's written three books and is working on a fourth book about the land that is now Saratoga Spa State Park and the people who lived there.

Bolster's now 95 years old, and she's started parting with her collection, selling it piece by piece to friends, collectors ,and antique dealers in an effort to ensure these nuggets of local history have a good home.

Last week Minnie gave us a tour of what is left of the collection -- which is a lot. Here's a look...

One of the most impressive items in the collection hangs in the kitchen: a hand-colored map of Saratoga Springs, done by George Bolster. Minnie Bolster says her brother-in-law spent more than 400 hours on that map. "He should have been a painter," she says, "he was a wonderful artist."

Bolster Map.jpg

Bolster's collection also includes photos by George Bolster, many of them hand colored:

Bolster hand colored horse and wagon.jpg

Bolster Hotel hand colored.jpg

Bolster Saratoga streetscape.jpg

Bolster - US hotel hand colored .jpg

Old hotel keys from the Grand Union, the United States and other old hotels.

Bolster Skeleton Keys.jpg

Bolster Hotel Keys.jpg

Bolster Adelphi Keys.jpg

Furniture from the elaborate Grand Union Hotel:

Bolster Grand Union Chair.jpg

Bolster Grand Union Chair upstairs.jpg

A painting from the Worden Hotel done in the 1900s depicts Broadway in the 1800s. Today the Wine Bar sits on the Broadway lot depicted here:

Bolster - painting -Wine bar

A rug from the Worden:

Bolster Worden Hotel Rug.jpg

Here's a croupier chair from an old Saratoga casino:

Bolster croupier chair

This bronze casting depicts tobogganers from Saratoga:

Bolster toboggan bronze.jpg

Bolster has a photo of Lilian Russell -- the actress, and girlfriend of famous gambler Diamond Jim Brady -- along with stories by Russell and her mother about their lives.

Lillian Russell

The collection includes 800 books about Saratoga:

Bolster Books wide.jpg

Bolster books close up.jpg

Saratoga bottles:

Bolster Bottles.jpg

A program from the opening of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center:

Bolster SPAC Groundbreaking Program.jpg

Old Saratoga newspapers:

Bolster old Saratoga newspapers

Countless paintings, posters and depictions of old hotels and Saratoga landscapes:

Bolster Hotel paintings.jpg

Bolster poster.jpg

Bolster photo wall.jpg

Bolster post card.JPG

China:

Bolster china.jpg

Among the more personal items we found amid the Saratoga history were Minnnie's own 1938 graduation photo from Saratoga Springs High School:

Bolster High School Photo.jpg

And this shot of young Minnie having fun with a pair of police officers at the Saratoga Race Course:

Bolster with Police.jpg

And one piece that depicts something that never happened in the past, but numbers among her dreams for the future of Saratoga Springs: a Jenness Cortez painting of ice skating on the infield at The Track.

Bolster Cortez Saratoga Race Course ice skating

Bolster said she's actually tried to make this painting come true with some phone calls to some of the movers and shakers she's come to know in her 95 years as a Saratogian -- but so far, no luck.

Comments

Minnie is my cousin,in the photo of Minnie and the officers. The officer on Minnie's left is our uncle Roy Clark. I am enjoying these pictures so much. Saratoga County is still my home even though I moved to Florida over 40 years ago. So thank you so much for the memories.

Stories like this are the very reason i love "All Over Albany"! This women is fascinating.

Wonderful, thanks for sharing.

Another Saratoga era coming to an end...thank you for all you have done in preserving our local history...have enjoyed your books and your company....sincerely, Barbara .

I really enjoyed seeing all of Minnie Bolster's Collection and would love a tour of her home ! I've heard wonderful things about it . I was born and raised in Saratoga . My Parents were Ralph and Dorothy Chamberlin .My Father worked for over 50 yrs. for Starbuck's Dept. Store . we lived on Broadway until I was 7 yrs. old. I only wish I'd been more aware of our history growing up . My Father was born in 1893 and he must have seen and experienced so much . Thank you so much for allowing me to ramble on and I truly would love to learn more !

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