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2014 Newsletter

PRESERVE OUR PAST 

Newsletter Number 1 Volume 4   

                                                                                                                                   WINTER 2014-15
City Hall Restoration     

The Little Falls City Hall Restoration Committee began its regular meetings on September …2014 under the leadership of Jim Palmer who was appointed by Mayor Robert Peters.  Members are a cross section of city organizations and administration and include Robert Albrecht of Keep Mohawk Valley Beautiful, Jayne Ritz of Main Street First, Angela Harris, retired professor from Herkimer County Community college, aldermen Jeff Gressler and David Burleson, Pat Gressler of the Historical society, Nan Ressue of Preserve Our Past, Clete McLaughlin, business manager of Little Falls Central School, Tom Laurenson of Little Falls radio, and city treasurer Dave Petkovsek.  This committee plans to meet regularly and will begin its work by meeting with a local grant writer to study the procurement of funds to initiate the process.

Because of the scope of the project, detailed plans need to be drawn up for each phase of the work and should be under the direction of a historic architect. A current floor plan will be needed.

 

Elegant pewter ornament for sale

Preserve Our Past is now offering an elegant pewter ornament for sale which features a rendering of our City Hall on its face and a history of the building on the reverse.  This fine memento is a perfect addition to your Christmas tree or as a gift to a Little Falls’ family member or friend who lives away from home and would like to have this remembrance. The history as engraved on the back of the ornament is as follows:

“Completed in 1917 in the nationally popular Beaux Arts style, the building façade features a grand entrance with Ionic pilasters and richly executed sculptural details on a central cupola. The main building is sheathed in granite-like terra cotta and the interior lobby features the sweeping marble staircases typical of the style.  The building was designed by William Neil Smith, New York City architect”. The ornament comes in a black velvet drawstring bag which makes a perfect container for the piece. Buy yours at the city clerk’s office or at the Mustard Seed in Canal Place.  The price is $15.00 plus 3.00 shipping and handling, tax included.  Order your ornaments through the mail by sending your check to Preserve Our Past, Box 105, Little Falls, New York 13365.

 Vincents Receive Preservation Award

Preserve Our Past has the honor of presenting the 2014 fall historic preservation award to Alan and Linda Vincent for their monumental adaptive reuse of a historic structure at 25 West Mill Street, Little Falls.  This will be the newest presentation in the organization’s series of historic preservation awards given to local people for their accomplishments in dealing with historic architecture.

It is immediately apparent to the visitor to Canal Place that the two limestone mills are the centerpieces of the area.  Not many among us would have the vision, courage, and perseverance to assume ownership of one of these immense structures and turn it into a thriving successful business. Alan and Linda Vincent have all these characteristics and more.

The Vincents purchased the building in 1987 and spent much time and thought in planning and organizing before beginning their project.  Work on floor one of the 25 West Mill building began in 1996 with the sand blasting of the ceilings, refinishing the floors, installing new wiring, replacing the boiler, and installing new windows.  The Little Falls Antique Center opened on October 1, 1996.

1997 was an important year for extending the life of the building when a new roof was put on and all four sides of the stone building were repointed.  Years of soot from passing trains was also cleaned from the building’s north face. Moving the elevator shaft closer to the entrance to comply with New York State regulations was yet one more monumental task accomplished by these intrepid preservationists. This also was the year of second and third floor development of retail space and private apartments overlooking the Mohawk River. People shopping and living at 25 West Mill have the use of a large parking lot excavated by the Vincents to serve the business.  Last but not least is a beautiful painting on the west gable end of the building by the late Steven Pitt Nichols designed to fit the shape of the space and features a fisherman standing in the river of time.

Thank you Vincents for  saving one of Little Falls’ magnificent buildings and creating a signature business for our community which not only boosts local economy but provides a destination for a wide radius of highway and waterway visitors to our Mohawk Valley town.

 American Flag Donated to POP

Preserve Our Past, Little Falls’ historic preservation organization, has recently had the honor of receiving an American flag which has flown over the national capitol of our country.  This respected gift was the result of a recommendation from New York Representative Bill Owens of the New York State’s 21st district who recognized Preserve Our Past as a leader in directing public attention toward the restoration needs of the city’s venerable 1916 City Hall. This project also encourages other members of the local community to invest in their own opportunities, renovations, and expansions.

.Tom Yots Speaks At Annual Meeting 

TOM YOTS, past director Preserve Buffalo/Niagara,  spoke about the benefits of the Certified Local Government program and how Buffalo is using historic preservation to revitalize its downtown and its neighborhoods on July 12 at the POP annual meeting.  Tom Yots is a native of Mohawk and a committed  preservationist with years of experience in the field

 Dr. Adesek to Sponsor Spring 2015 Essay Contest

This spring, Preserve our Past will be hosting the 2nd Annual Writing Contest through a generous donation from Dr. Peter Adasek. The children will be asked to write about the importance of preserving City Hall in Little Falls. City Hall is one of many historically important buildings in the city. The contest will be offered to upper elementary students in Benton Hall Academy and The Baptist Academy. The teachers, Principal Joe Long, and Business Manager, Cletus Mclaughlin, expressed keen interest in this project as the theme fits so well into the New York State curriculum. Prior to writing, Preserve Our Past will arrange a tour of City Hall for students and teachers so they can experience the architecture and the history of this remarkable building. Prize money will be awarded based on an established scoring scale.

Main Street Victorian Storefronts Are A Little Falls’ Treasure

Large windows, welcoming recessed doorways, and original ornamentation are the trademarks of our remaining Main Street 19th century retail stores and are viewed by many as handsome examples of an appropriate cityscape for our Mohawk Valley canal town.  With the possibility of additional rehabilitation funds for Main Street available through Urban Renewal, it would be well to again acknowledge the importance of our remaining Victorian storefronts which add so much charm to the Main Street district in this beautiful place we call home. Historic district property owners are eligible for a 40% NYS tax credit for approved restoration projects.

Regional Land Bank

Board members of Preserve Our Past on September 16th attended the evening Land Bank meeting at Herkimer County Community College sponsored by Keep Mohawk Valley Beautiful.

The presentation was well attended and showed the obvious interest within our area in learning about Land Banks and how this kind of legislation could help with our areas need to control the deterioration of our community’s property.

The evening’s presentation was followed by an active and lively question and answer period. The pursuit of Land Bank legislation will continue under the auspices of Keep Mohawk Valley Beautiful. They will be seeking support from each county legislature in our six county Regional Economic Development Authority.

Winter In Mohawk River Valley

The Mohawk River was a road through the wooded landscape in every season. Bateaux were poled upstream in summer time and sleds were pulled on the river ice by oxen with ted shoes in winter. Nearly every household inventory listed farm sleds among their machinery which were used in the winter to haul heavy loads on the river ice when a wagon axle would have snapped in the summer mud under the same weight.  Stone from valley quarries was hauled in January to build the 1772 jail in Johnstown for the newly organized Tryon County.

Snowshoes copied from the Indians made it possible for the farmer to work outdoors in the winter when the snow was waist deep.  Trees identified by their bark patterns were felled in cold weather when the sap level was low and bought back to the farm by oxen, sleds, and men on snowshoes.. Cutting trees for the endless uses of wood gradually created a cleared space ready to plant which had greater value than a wooded one of the same size.  .

Colonial economics were centered on the fur trade for centuries when both Indians and whites were involved in this all out wintertime effort when pelts were the most lush .Traps were the tools of the trade since a gunshot would have damaged the pelt .   The Indians were usually paid with objects and rum and the whites with credit at the store.

Fish caught through the ice added to the family larder and were salted and smoked to preserve them for later use.  However, unsalted meat and fish were such a treat that it often was only

referred to as “fresh”. Warren Johnson, brother of Sir William, noted in his 1760 diary that venison brought down in December could still be roasted and eaten in spring if the ice crystals remained in the meat.

The springtime breakup of the river ice jam was a fearsome thing and often discussed in diaries and letters.  The mountain of slow moving river ice was capable of ripping down bridges, crushing shoreline buildings and producing impressive sound effects.

 

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