Schenectady County

Sale of Schaefer house to college made final

After months of paperwork, Union College now officially owns the home of the late conservationist Pa

After months of paperwork, Union College now officially owns the home of the late conservationist Paul Schaefer and the adjoining Adirondack Research Library.

Union announced in April it would purchase the home owned by advocacy group Protect the Adirondacks! The sale closed last week. The properties will now be used by the college as a learning center.

Union will explore partnerships with other colleges, universities, museums and preservation groups, according to a statement from the college. Union spokesman Phil Wajda said college officials soon will inspect the property to see if repairs or modifications need to be made.

“We are excited to acquire this exceptional resource so we can preserve and expand its use,” he said.

College officials said in April that aid from an anonymous donor had allowed them to purchase the property. The sale then had to be approved by the state attorney general’s office, which has oversight when nonprofit groups sell assets.

Wajda said he could not disclose the final cost of the deal at this time. The sale price was approved by the attorney general and will be disclosed later.

The advocacy group decided to sell the property after it had to lay off most of its paid staff. Part-time Executive Director Peter Borrelli stayed for the sale of the property, while for several months members of the nonprofit group stayed on as volunteers.

As part of the deal, the contents of the Adirondack Research Library will remain on loan to the college but officially will continue to be owned by the advocacy group.

Schaefer was an influential environmental activist and a member of the Association for Protection of the Adirondacks. He fought to block construction of dams on Adirondack rivers and persuaded the state not to take the Northway through what is now Pharaoh Lake Wilderness. The organization bought the home from Schaefer’s children after his death in 1996. The association later became Protect the Adirondacks!

The library’s collection includes more than 15,000 books as well as maps, photographs, documents and personal papers. It includes a floor-to-ceiling relief map of the Adirondack Park.

Borrelli said he’s heard Union’s students and faculty are excited to use the collection.

“I believe strongly that Union College has the capacity and interest to put [the property] to excellent use,” he said in a news release.

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