The gas station at 522 Broadway was an unlikely candidate for preservation. Built for the Pure Oil Company in 1933, it was one of their signature “English Cottage”-style gas stations. In fact, nearby buildings had more historical and architectural significance having been Jewish boarding houses built in Victorian times. By the 1960s and 1970s, Urban Renewal had torn down many buildings west of Broadway and in Spring Valley. Dilapidated buildings and vacant storefronts on Broadway were prevalent, but things were changing. The city’s 1974 Plan of Action was underway, with citizens planting trees, and advocating for rehabilitating the buildings on Broadway. Originally Kiley’s Gas Station, this building, home to the Great Bay Clam Company, was sold to the Urban Renewal Agency for $40,000 in 1976, and was slated for removal to make way for the City Center. In 1978, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, delaying its demolition.
Notice was published in the national Preservation magazine, seeking a buyer. Barbara Willis of Buffalo made an offer of $40,000 to move the building to 65 Spring St. The plan was to convert the building into a single-family home. After a denial at the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance to convert the building to residential use, the owners agreed to rent the building for commercial use. Early in the morning of July 21, 1978, the building was moved down Broadway. It began its new life as a Citibank branch, and eventually became the Bread Basket Bakery, in 1993. The original Pure Oil building remains at 65 Spring St. to this day, and fits in well within its surroundings—the story of its preservation is a special part of the history of the city of Saratoga Springs.
Matthew Veitch, a fifth generation Saratogian, serves on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors and is treasurer of the Saratoga Preservation Foundation. His grandfather, Donald Veitch, was the executive director of the city’s urban renewal project, from 1965-1986.