Village of Ballston Spa
Village of Ballston Spa
Village Office
(518) 885~5711
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Iron SpringBallston Spa was settled in 1771 and incorporated in 1807, making it one of the oldest continuously incorporated Villages in the United States. Moreover, the story goes that its Old Iron Spring is also the first mineral spring discovered and actively used in the US, some years before those in Saratoga Springs. Since that isn't enough, it appears that the first large scale resort - the Sans Souci - was also built in Ballston Spa, making the Village the first true resort town in the area (indeed, it earned the nickname “America’s First Watering Place”), with people visiting Ballston long before Saratoga Springs rose to prominence.

But it did not stop with the mineral springs for Ballston Spa. By the first Village centennial (1907), Ballston Spa was a thriving center of commerce, a destination for vacationers, and truly, a good place to live and work. A strong mill industry had sprung up along the Kaydeross; the square-bottom paper bag was invented here; and the supposed founder of baseball, Abner Doubleday, was born here (his house is still standing). Ballston Spa residents alone had filed for more patents for inventions than any other upstate village with the exception of Saratoga Springs and Waterford – they were industrious; no question.

This is history reaching down in ways most US Villages cannot. And yet - there are few plaques on Ballston Spa streets to commemorate any of this, and there are no periodic write-ups in newspapers, websites, or elsewhere. To dig up this information we have to go to the historical sources themselves, dating back from the period or nearly so.

We leave that task to historians. But below, we've put together a number of historical dates, facts, and accomplishments - our equivalent of plaques. We hope it will give you some idea of all that's gone on in this wonderful village.

The Early Years

  • 1771 - First Mineral Spring in America +

    Surveyors noted a bubbling spring near the Kaydeross Creek. At the time, they did not realize that they had just "officially" discovered the first mineral spring in America, to become known as the Public Well, then Iron Railing Spring - the Old Iron Spring. Over the next decade travelers began to visit the spring, but no permanent settlements were raised around or near it. The original spring was about fifty feet south of the present pavillion, in what would now be the middle of Front Street. 

  • 1783 - The First Settler +

    There is no record of the first "white man" who came to settle within the present limits of the village. But among the first was Jonathan Peckham, who purchased a tract of land in 1783, made a "clearing," and built his log cabin home the same year. This stood on what is today Pleasant Street. Before him, although the Spring was visited regularly since its discovery in 1771, no permanent settlement was built.

  • 1787 & 1792 - First Tavern & Hotel +

    Benajah Douglas, father of 1860 presidential candidate Stephen A. Douglas, built the first tavern in Ballston Spa, followed by a hotel in 1792. The hotel was located on his land near the Iron Spring.

  • 1792 - Low's First Hotel (The McMaster House) +

    Nicholas Low built a comparable hotel to Douglas's. This was fifteen years before he would build the Sans Souci (1803). Douglas and Low’s hotels were roughly thirty by forty feet in size - impressive enough for the period. In 1795 this house passed into the hands of the McMaster brothers, who extended it.

  • 1795 - The Aldridge House +

    Joshua Aldridge purchased Douglas's hotel (the First hotel), enlarged it, and named it “Aldridge House,” charging $8 per week for guests who came to enjoy the Spring's mineral waters. Today the building is known as the Brookside Museum.

  • 1792 thru 1795 - Tourism Arrives +

    More public houses were built between 1792 and 1795, and in 1794, six years before Gideon Putnam began to build the Union at Saratoga, the great tide of summer travel set in towards Ballston Spa. The once quiet, secluded, yet beautiful glen around the old iron-railing spring, rapidly cleared of its forests, became the resort of fashion and wealth; and with the rush of visitors for the summer came all the other institutions of a thriving village - stores, shops, schools, and churches.

  • The Next 10 Years +

    These ten or so years of superior accommodations afforded by Ballston Spa before the building of the Union at Saratoga would doubtless have cost Saratoga its now peerless position among watering-places, had not the Ballston springs been afterwards, through natural or artificial causes, nearly lost. But in the early years of the nineteenth century, and prior to the incorporation of the village, the minerla springs of Ballston Spa had attaind great renown, and with its unrivalled hotel accomodations, the village became the "first watering place of America."

  • Early Names +

    Prior to the incorporation of the village in 1807 under the name of Ballston Spa, the post-office had been named "Ballston Springs," and writers of an early period spoke of the settlement as "Ball's Town," or as "Ballston." In some early deeds the place is called "Ballston Salt Springs," and also "Town of Spa," and Gordon Creek is mentioned as "Spa Creek."

  • 1803 - The Sans Souci +

    The same year as the Union Hotel at Saratoga was built, Nicholas Low built the Sans Souci. The hotel was 156 feet long with a wing extending back from each end at 150 feet, all of them three stories high and contained lodging for 250 people. This was an enormous structure during its day, rivaled only by Putnam’s Union Hotel. No expense was spared to make it, and for years after it was the largest and most charming resort in th States. 

  • 1804 - The Village Hotel (Now Medbery's Hotel) +

    The Village Hotel (now Medbery's Hotel) at the corner of Front and Spring streets, was built in 1804, ad first had a frontage of only twenty-five feet on Front street. In 1824 William Clark purchased the property, and added another twenty-five feet, and his son Nathaniel added still another twenty-five feet, fibing the hotel its present size. Nathaniel sold to Stephen Medbery in 1847 - the hotel still stands today.

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Incorporated Village

  • March 21, 1807 - Incorporation +

    The first election was held in the newly incorporated Village, and in December, lands for streets were ceded by Nicholas Low and Joshua B. Aldridge, and new streets were laid out, including what is today Science, Bath, and Low Street.

  • The Post Office +

    The first record of a post-office is a certificate of appointment of Joshua B. Aldridge as "Deputy Postmaster at Ballstown Springs, NY." It is dated November 30, 1797. April 1st, 1798, Mr. Aldridge was appointed postmaster at Ballston Springs, the Post Office Department having dropped the "w." On July 28, 1825, the name was changed to Ballston Spa, and June 18, 1829, the "Spa" was dropped, th post office being simply "Ballston." Efforts were made at different times to have the "Spa" restored, so that the names of village and post office whould match, but without effect, until in 1890 the publisher of the Ballston Journal took the matter up with the Deparment in Washington. His efforts were successful, an on May 16, 1890, the post office name was made identical with that of the village - Ballston Spa.

  • First Publicly Funded School +

    The village trustees met on April 24, 1811, and voted to raise the sum of $1,400 "by a tax on the inhabitants and freeholders of this village to be appropriated at the discretion of the Trustees for defraying the expense of erecting a school house in the said village suitable and convenient for a common school." Nicholas Low donated the land and a large two-story building was erected that year. It was located at the head of Science street. Science street itself was created to provide access to the school.

  • First Fire Company +

    At a public meeting held January 27, 1815, the citizens decided to build an engine house and purchase a fire engine, and directed the village Trustees to organize a Fire Company. The first company was organized August 15, 1818, and took the name of Fire Engine Company, No.1. Engine House No.1 was first located on the southwet corner of Bath and Walnut streets, and in 1845 was moved across Bath street into the building that today holds the Police Department and Village Court.

  • Courthouse & County Seat +

    In 1796 the first county courthouse was built on Middle line two miles south of Ballston Spa; but when it burned in 1813, the question of a new location for the County Seat was raised. Mr. Low lobbied to have it brought to Ballston Spa, and it was built eventually built on High Street, on land ceded by him on June 5, 1817 for that purpose. Building the courthouse here brought the public county business to Ballston Spa, and made it very largely the political, as it is the official, center of the county.

  • First Newspaper +

    The first number of the first newspaper publised in Saratoga County was issued at Court House Hill (Ballston Spa), on June 14, 1798, under the name of Saratoga Register or Farmer's Journal. The name of the paper has changed several times, but has been known as "The Ballston Journal" since 1847.

  • First Book +

    The first book ever printed in the county was from the press of the Childs (The Ballston Journal) in 1798. It was entitled "A plain Account of the Ordinance of Baptism; in which all the texts in the New Testament relating to it are proved, and the whole Doctrine concerning it drawn from them alone."

  • Railroad +

    The event of greatest importance in the development and growth of the village was the building of the Saratoga and Schenectady Railroad, which was begun in 1831 and completed in 1832, and the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad, built in 1833, from Troy to Ballson Spa. These were respectively the second and third steam railroads in the Stae, the first road being from Albany to Schenectady.

  • Plank Roads +

    In January, 1848, the village gave permission to the Schenectady and Saratgoa Plank Road Company to construct a plank road in Ballston Spa, through Balston street to High street; to Court, to Front street, to Milton avenue, and through Milton aventue to north line of the village.

  • Telegraph +

    The first telegraph office was opened in the Railroad Station in 1853, nine years after Samuel F.B. Morse transmitted the first telgraphic message from Washington to Baltimore. The first system of telephones was established in the village in 1882.

  • The Water Works +

    The first franchise for village water works was granted on May 10, 1826. Inhabitants were supplied with drinking water until 1869 by wells and private springs, the water being conducted through wooden logs with a boring two inches in diameter. On July 23, 1868, a public meeting was held and it was voted to bond the village for $20,000 to construct water works. Water mains were laid through the streets, fire hydrants establised, and Palmerton reservoir constructed. By 1907 Ballston Spa had a first-class system of water works, and a potable water which ranked among the best in the State.

  • Gas & Electric +

    The village was first lighted by gas in 1873, and the electric light was first introduced in 1890. Gas had so largely given place to the electric light by the end of the 19th century, that the gas works were closed in January, 1907.

  • Brick Pavement +

    In 1901 the first brick pavement in the village was laid on Front street, from Bath street to Milton avenue. In 1902 a portion of Bath street and Milton avenue were paved with brick; and in 1906, Malta avenue, from Milton avenue to Pine street was similarly paved.

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Daily Calendar

March 2021
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7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31 1 2 3

Upcoming Events

24 Feb 2021;
07:00PM -
Police Procedures Zoom Meeting
08 Mar 2021;
07:00PM -
Board of Trustees meeting
17 Mar 2021;
09:30AM -
Drive-Thru Food Pantry

Calendar at a Glance 2019

2019 Main & Ongoing

First Fridays of each month: Evening activities throughout downtown

  • Movies in the Park 2019:
    First Fridays of June, July, Aug in Wiswall Park
  • 2019 Village Pool Lessons Registration Weekend: 
  • June 15 & 16, 9 a.m. to noon
  • See Village News for complete schedule
Farmers Market: June 15 - Sept. 28, 2019:
  • Wiswall Park, Thursdays 3 p.m. – 6 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. – noon
  • Concerts in the Park
  • Wiswall Park, Thursdays 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.


  • Annual Sar County Bottle Show & Sale, June 2, County Fairgrounds
  • Village Wide Garage Sale, June 8 - 9 throughout Village
  • Saratoga Balloon & BBQ Festival, June 21 - 23, County Fairgrounds


  • Saratoga County Fair, July 23 - 28, 2019


  • Ice Cream Social, Wiswall Park, August 1, featuring Union Fire Co. Band
  • Swim Under Stars, Village Pool, August 10, 8 p.m. to midnight


  • Irish 2000 Music and Arts Festival, Saratoga County Fairgrounds Sept. 13 & 14.


       * The Way We Were Car Show, Oct. 13 downtown. Raindate Oct. 20


  • Community Thanksgiving Dinner, Union Fire Company, Thanksgiving Day November 28


  • Victorian Christmas Parade & Family Festivities, December 6


Immediate Assistance: 911

(518) 885-5033
(518) 885-1478
Animal Control
(518) 885-5033

Key Contacts

Village Office
(518) 885~5711
Central School
(518) 884~7195
Public Library
(518) 885~5022
Community Center
(518) 885~3261
Village Court
(518) 885~6393

Map Us!

Ballston Spa Map
Ballston Spa Map
Ballston Spa Map
Ballston Spa Map