Retiring city employee uncovers historic documents stashed in ceiling

Posted at: 06/26/2013 3:54 PM
Updated at: 06/26/2013 6:16 PM
By: Mark Mulholland

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Something has a bank president so interested in the City Hall tax office that he's climbing a ladder to get deep inside the dust-filled ceiling.

It's the discovery of the personal records of Edgar Truman Brackett, a one-time state senator and one of the most powerful Saratogians ever.

"He was like Joe Bruno on steroids," said Charles Wait, president of the Adirondack Trust Company, comparing Brackett referring to the powerful modern-day former leader of the state senate.

This story begins with Mike King, the city's tax collector. Years ago, he wondered why the city decided to put a drop ceiling in just part of the office, so he went up to check it out.

What he found was essentially a small library. He took down just one box, filled with memorandums, telegraphs and letters dating from the 1890s to around 1905.

They're all to and from Senator Brackett, the state political powerhouse and the founder and president of Adirondack Trust Company, which is why the current bank president is looking more like a coal miner. It's all for a glimpse into the bank's and the region's history from the records of someone who shaped it.

"We're going to first of all clean them and me," said Wait.  "Then we're going to have them scanned and digitized. We're going to give the originals back to the city and keep our scanned versions for the bank and hopefully they'll be available to the public."

Brackett's law office, which was once the largest office north of New York City, was located right in City Hall. Which explains how his documents got here.

"Nobody thought to take the records so they've been sitting in the ceiling now for a hundred years."

Nobody except Mike King.

And now, just a couple days before he retires after 36-plus years, King and Wait are waist deep in the ceiling to unearth the long-lost records of a man steeped in history.

"It's been a long time. I've kind of been the keeper of the secret library all these years and it really feels tremendous," said King.