Saratoga County

Gresh to start with Saratoga Springs preservation office

A former Schenectady resident will take over next month as the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foun

PHOTOGRAPHER:

A former Schenectady resident will take over next month as the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation’s new executive director.

Laura Gresh, who with her husband lived in Schenectady for almost three years before moving to Bennington, Vt., four years ago, will head the Preservation Foundation starting the first week in February.

Carrie Woerner, the former executive director, resigned Jan. 11 to become vice president and general manager of conference software for the Wall Street Transcript, a publishing company that plans to open an office soon in Saratoga Springs.

Gresh holds a master’s degree in building conservation and historic preservation from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She has done historic preservation consulting and marketing, including serving as the downtown specialist for the Vermont Downtown Program.

“She’s got some persuasive skills there that I think will serve us very well,” said Doug Kerr, the foundation board’s new president.

Also, Gresh has worked at the Olana State Historic Site in Hudson and the Mabee Farm in Rotterdam.

And she has personal experience with historic preservation.

“She is on her fourth — count ’em, four old houses that she’s lived in and fixed up,” Kerr said.

Gresh, 54, was introduced at the Preservation Foundation’s annual meeting Thursday at the Surrey-Williamson Inn on North Broadway.

“I’m really excited about the job. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity,” she said.

The nonprofit group schedules historic tours of the city, advocates for the city’s old buildings and provides grant money to restore structures.

Last year, it also formed a group of people concerned about keeping the historic quality of Saratoga Race Course intact. The Saratoga Race Course Preservation Coalition now includes more than 200 individuals and groups.

The foundation also got more involved last year in restoring buildings in Saratoga Springs, working on the First Baptist Church and seven separate Beekman Street projects, including the Frederick Allen Lodge building, Woerner said.

“The community has really rallied behind this project,” she said of the Black Elks headquarters at the corner of Beekman and Oak streets.

The preservation group celebrated its 30th anniversary last year by moving from its former digs at 117 Grand Ave. to a new, shared site with Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land and Nature) at 112 Spring St. and selling the Grand Avenue building in August, said outgoing treasurer Steve Springer.

It also started a new docent training program called “Hoofing It!” The first tour guides spent hours making up their own tours for the city’s historic neighborhoods.

At the foundation’s awards banquet May 16 at Saratoga Polo, Harry Snyder and the late John Roohan will be honored with the sixth annual Spirit of Preservation Award.

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