Brown Bag Lunch Lecture Series

This monthly educational seminar, originally produced by the Saratoga Heritage Area Visitor Center, began in the early 1990’s and has remained popular for over 30 years. In the early 2000’s, the program outgrew the capacity of the Visitor Center and a partnership was formed with the Saratoga Springs Public Library. This partnership allows us to offer more seating for attendees, provide research guidance for speakers, utilize presentation equipment and arrange for IT support on the day of the program. This community lecture series is meant to highlight the rich history, culture and traditions of our city and Heritage Area. Programs attract an audience of mostly locals who are interested in area history and learning about their community.

  • This lecture series takes place eight times per year during the spring and fall seasons: March – June and September – December. There are no programs in July and August.
  • Programs are offered in-person at the Saratoga Springs Public Library, 49 Henry Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 
  • All programs run from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Attendees can also choose to attend virtually and need to register via the library website to receive the Zoom link:

  • All programs are FREE and open to the public. 
  • We encourage attendees to check the library website for more information and guidelines.

2023 Dates:  

March 9, 2023 – “Behind the Headlines: Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories”

March is Women’s History Month!  We’re honoring this year’s theme, “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,” with a special Brown Bag Lunch program.  Join Barbara Lombardo and Mary Caroline Powers, two of Saratoga Springs’ veteran women journalists, in a wide ranging conversation about their experiences in the print and broadcast media, ranging from their groundbreaking roles in newspaper and television; discrimination they faced and opportunities they were afforded; how changes in culture and technology are affecting how news is reported, and the role of women in the media.  Please register online through the events calendar on the Saratoga Springs Public Library website.

April 13, 2023 – “The Lakehouses at Saratoga Lake”

From the late 1930’s until the early 1950’s, the Lakehouses at Saratoga Lake were the hottest entertainment venues there were. The latest, most popular music acts and the finest cuisine were offered in the front of the House.  And the back rooms were where all the gambling action took place. All of this happening under the watchful eye of the Mob and with the “wink,wink” cooperation of the Locals, many of whom made good money serving the Season’s guests.  Join Saratoga Springs Public Library’s former Local History Librarian, Lorie Wies for an entertaining look back at this

May 11, 2023 – “The Spa State Park:  The Formation of one of Saratoga’s Greatest Assets”

The Spa State Park is a tremendous story of hard work and vision by many people in the early years of the 20th Century. This presentation will provide the timeline and the stories of how such a great park was created and for what reasons. Join Saratoga Springs History Museum President, Charlie Kuenzel as he tells the story of health and history that is truly Saratoga.

June 8, 2023 – “Erasing Spaces and Faces: The Legacy of Urban Renewal in Saratoga Springs”

Speakers:  The Erasing Faces and Spaces Project Team

Erasing Spaces and Faces: The Legacy of Urban Renewal is a social practice multi-dimensional project that integrates history, art and storytelling to learn about the impact of urban renewal on the BIPOC and immigrant community. This partnership between artists, community members and historians is revealing a greater understanding of the motives and the consequences of racist housing practices that have not only displaced an entire community, but we believe have contributed to a white washing of our city and a local housing and unhoused crisis. Our team has produced an in-person and digital exhibition, a short documentary film and is in process of building a free and accessible public history archive of urban renewal we hope to amplify and share the voices of those most affected by the practice of “urban removal. ” We hope this work contributes towards making Saratoga Springs a more inclusive and accessible city.

Fall Season:

September 14, 2023 – "First Saratogians: The History and Traditions of the Indigenous Nations of the Saratoga Region"

Combining lecture, traditional Native Music and Storytelling, the program will provide an overview from pre-contact through the colonial period and the present of the history and cultures of the three indigenous nations who still know our area as their homeland: Muh-he-ka-neew (Mohican), Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawk), and Alnobak (Abenaki).

October 12, 2023 – "Kidnapped from Saratoga: The Story of Solomon Northup​"

Solomon Northup, an African American, lived in Saratoga Springs with his wife and children. In 1841, two men promised him work if he would go away with them for a short while. But, instead, the men sold him as a slave, and he was shipped to Louisiana where he was a slave to several men for years. Finally, he was able to get word to friends back in New York, and he rejoined his family. In 1853, Northup wrote a book about his experiences, titled Twelve Years a Slave. In 2013, the book was adapted into an award-winning film. This talk will review Northup's story and provide some detail about the Northup family's life in Saratoga.

November 9, 2023 – "Brothers of THE 77th:  the 77th Infantry Regiment in the American Civil War​"

Former Associated Press reporter Christopher Carola will present a program on the Civil War’s 77th New York State Volunteer Infantry Regiment, from its muster in Saratoga Springs in late 1861 through its many battles and travels culminating at Appomattox Court House in April 1865. Using contemporary documents, photos and soldier letters, Carola tells the story of local men in the “Bemis Heights Regiment” who marched off to war to fight for the Union cause.

December 14, 2023 – "Saratoga’s Great Racing Characters"

Brien Bouyea, the Hall of Fame and Communications Director at the National Museum of Racing will tell the tales of some of the most interesting characters in the history of Saratoga Race Course. The presentation will include the Saratoga stories of John Morrissey, William Travers, Leonard Jerome, William Collins Whitney, Diamond Jim Brady, Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, Mary Hirsch, and Angel Cordero, Jr.