The 17th annual AARCH Preservation Awards Luncheon was held on September 24th at Top of the World Golf Resort in Lake George.
Though unintentional when selecting them, all of the recipients this year have something in common. They each took a building that was constructed for a single purpose and, through creative efforts, were able to extend the life of that structure. In some cases this was accomplished through restoration work that retained the original use, and in others the building became home to an entirely new function. In every case the awardees have made great contributions to their communities and preservation as a whole. We commend them for their dedication to saving our regional treasures.
This year's recipients are:
For sensitive restoration of the Mooers Junction Train Station, Mooers, Clinton County
The Mooers Junction Station was built in 1865 as a stop on the Rutland Railroad, which ran east-west across northern New York and Vermont. The Delaware and Hudson Railroad later built a small stand alone station at the same location to service their line which ran north-south, putting Mooers at an important intersection. The D&H didn't operate for long, closing their station in 1925 when they rerouted the line through Rouses Point, but Rutland continued to operate until 1961. Over the next 40 years the tracks were removed and the building served as a store house for lumber and grain companies, and its physical upkeep had been sorely neglected.
Larry Marnes grew up in Mooers and starting in 1958 he spent quite a bit of free time at the station, learning the ropes with the station master and becoming a skilled telegrapher. His personal connection to the site, and his strong belief in the importance of railroad history, led him to purchase the station in 2003. For the past decade he has worked to restore the station, opening it for school children and curious visitors, happy to share his piece of railroading history.
For sensitive restoration and adaptive reuse of the Paradox Community Center (former Paradox Schoolhouse), Schroon, Essex County
Built circa 1830, with a 1930s addition, Paradox School District #10 served local students for over a century. In 1937, after the centralization of area schools, the building was deeded to the Paradox Community Center, Since that time, it has been used for various community functions such as family reunions, association meetings, boat safety classes, square dances, etc. On several occasions the community joined together to repaint or install new shingles on the roof, but after 70 years, the overall condition had deteriorated.
Following a 2004 Condition Report prepared by Crawford and Stearns, Architects and Preservation Planners, the Association began a campaign for a major restoration. This included replacement and repair of siding; window restoration; foundation and masonry work; new wiring; new roof; and installation of modern bathroom facilities; as well as cosmetic updates such as new paint, and preservation of interior finishes.
The restored building offers a space for a multitude of community functions, including meetings, dances, family gatherings and children's programs.
For sensitive restoration of the Brighton Town Hall, Brighton, Franklin County
The Brighton Town Hall was designed and built by noted local craftsman, Ben Muncil in 1914. A modest, Craftsman inspired building, it has served continuously as the town hall since its construction and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Though outwardly the results of the restoration are not immediately evident, the project tackled a number of important issues.
The following was accomplished during restoration:
- Removed linoleum floor, repaired, replaced, sanded original maple flooring.
- Removed old fiberboard ceiling and lighting, repaired, replaced, sanded and finished ceiling, installed stylistic lighting.
- Removed old lockable closet spaces on the left and right of the two doors in the back of the building.
- Renovated bathroom, relocated door, made ADA compliant.
- Renovated kitchenette, expanded usage as copier/mail/fax functions.
- Cleaned, scraped, repainted entire exterior.
- Installed copper flashing on exposed exterior roof beams.
- Rebuilt front lower stone pillars, with stones in exact locations as they were originally, fabricated and installed new handrail.
- Cleaned, primed and repainted handicapped elevator on front porch.
For adaptive reuse of the Willsboro Heritage Center (former Champlain National Bank), Willsboro, Essex County
Originally known as Champlain National Bank, this Colonial Revival building was commissioned by Augustus Paine, Jr. and designed by C.P.H. Gilbert of New York City. At one time the building housed classrooms and offices, likely an extension of the Willsboro School, which sits next door, but most recently it has become home to the Willsboro Heritage Society, reborn as such in 1995. The organization uses the building as its headquarters housing a small office space and two galleries that are open to the public The former vault holds town records that date from 1793-1944, an extensive collection of photographs and an array of genealogical information. The Heritage Society has worked to retain the original character of the building through regular maintenance, keeping this important historic structure in service.
For sensitive restoration and adaptive reuse of the Adirondack Exhibit Center (former Star Lake Schoolhouse), Star Lake, St. Lawrence County
In 2006 an announcement ran in a local paper, stating that the 1882 Star Lake Schoolhouse was being disposed of by the Town of Fine and that it was accepting bids to purchase and remove the building. "As a result of this unfortunate situation, something beautiful and exciting is happening in out community. Residents of the Star Lake area -both full time and summer, on the water and off, long-standing and new - have joined together as a whole to save our schoolhouse. We call ourselves, "S.O.S." We value the history and beauty of this building and we are working hard to find a use for it that will benefit the entire community." (Bargain Hunter, August 7, 2006)
Over the next several years volunteers fundraised and spent hours of hands on work to create what is now the Adirondack Exhibit Center. In recent months the Center has been used for the following: Clifton-Fine Student Art Show, Basket Weaving and Iris Paper Folding workshops, meeting space for various organizations, Adirondack Writers Workshop, J and L Picture Story, Star Lake Schoolhouse Reunion and Creative Movement Dance classes. This is in addition to two permanent exhibits: The Western Adirondack Railroad Modelers Club and the Five Pond Wilderness Club. SOS not only saved their historic schoolhouse, but have provided much needed community space for Star Lake.
For sensitive restoration and adaptive reuse of the Lewis Missile Silo, Lewis, Essex County
The Lewis Missile Base or Boquett 556-5 was opened by the US Air Force in 1962 as an Atlas F ICBM silo, designed to house, and launch if necessary, a nuclear warhead. It also provided living quarters and a command station for the crew. The base was one of twelve surrounding the Plattsburgh Air Force Base, but by 1965 it was decommissioned as the threat of nuclear war dissipated.
In 1998 Alexander Michael of Sydney, Australia, purchased, and began the daunting task of restoring an underground site that was largely flooded and had been vacant for over three decades. Seven years of combating extensive water damage, cleaning and painting resulted in the 2-story control center being restored as a living space with a Cold War atmosphere. Alex salvaged as much of the base as possible, even retaining the launch console and switching unit. He has now moved on to the missile well, locating and reinstalling the giant hinges and hydraulic actuators that controlled the silo doors. Alex's work has ensured that this rare and important site has been preserved.