Schenectady County

Plan moving forward to raze manor house at hospital, add new space

A $15 million project that would raze the four-story manor home attached to Ellis Hospital’s Bellevu

A $15 million project that would raze the four-story manor home attached to Ellis Hospital’s Bellevue Women’s Center and replace it with a new structure is nearing its final approvals, with a public hearing scheduled for Monday.

If final approvals are given in the coming weeks, Ellis officials hope work could begin by this fall with completion by spring 2013.

The project is to provide the hospital with modern space for patient rooms and nurseries.

It is also being done with consultation from the state historic preservation office, town and hospital officials said, with elements of the old manor home to be used in the new construction.

Those elements are to include molding and mantles. Exterior arch elements in the new facility are also to replicate or reflect elements from the manor home, hospital spokeswoman Donna Evans said.

“It’s a really beautiful place, and it will be even more beautiful and more modern so we can better serve patients and their families while paying homage to Bellevue’s rich history,” Evans said.

The project is part of an overall effort to expand and modernize Bellevue, Evans said. The project is to include 28 new private rooms and six semi-private rooms, a modernized imaging and breast care center along with an expansion and renovation of the hospital nursery and neonatal intensive care nursery in their current locations, Evans said. The lobby is also to be redesigned.

Hospital space is also expected to grow from 18,500 square feet to 32,000 square feet, Evans said.

The manor home portion of the hospital turned to largely administrative offices and meeting rooms, with some physician space, after previous expansions. In May 2009, it was even the site of a wedding.

But, Evans said, the hospital looked at the manor space and found it not usable or functional for a modern health care facility.

Monday night’s public hearing is set for the town Planning Board meeting at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall. The public hearing concerns a modification to a long-existing special use permit for the site, town planner Kathy Matern said.

The Planning Board would then decide whether to recommend that the Town Board grant the modification. The Conservation Advisory Council is also to give its recommendation on any environmental issues.

What is now Ellis’ Bellevue Women’s Center moved to its current location in 1942, taking up residence in the manor home.

The home was built in 1920 as a summer home for C.W. Stone, a noted electrical engineer who worked closely with Thomas Edison on a number of projects, according to a 1991 Daily Gazette column by historian Larry Hart. The hospital then expanded in 1972 with a new wing.

Matern said the hospital has worked to clear up minor issues on the project, including slopes at the site, bringing them in line with town code.

Those modifications were being reviewed, but they appeared to be fine.

The plan is to build a small addition to the lobby area, but other construction is to be essentially limited to the manor area, Matern said.

“Nothing changes, no parking, no anything like that,” Matern said. “They’re actually staying basically within the footprint of the mansion; it’s just expanded a little bit toward the east.”

Dan Keefe, a spokesman with the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, confirmed that his office concurred that the existing building didn’t suit the proposed use.

In terms of the demolition, the office asked for documentation of the home, including high-quality, high-resolution images of the exterior and interior, to go to the state archives.

The office also asked for salvaging of components for use in the new building.

Evans said the hospital will have a professional photographer go through the building to document it.

The preservation of manor elements is also to include fireplaces and a staircase, Evans said. The effort is part of honoring the tradition of Bellevue, she said.

The Bellevue project is one of several in the works for Ellis, including modernizing its emergency department at Nott Street and an urgent care facility in Clifton Park.

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