Broadway sites, once industrial, may be historic

Two buildings from Schenectady’s industrial past have been recommended for addition to the state and

Two buildings from Schenectady’s industrial past have been recommended for addition to the state and national registers of historic places.

The buildings at 797 and 845 Broadway, owned by the Galesi Group, are among several nominations to the registers. The building at 845 Broadway once housed the Mica Insulator Co. The Schenectady County Department of Social Services is housed in the rehabilitated structure at 797 Broadway.

Other nominations in the Capital Region include three properties in Albany County, and one each in Montgomery, Schoharie and Rensselaer counties.

The designation would allow Galesi to obtain state and federal tax credits toward rehabilitation of 845 Broadway, which is currently vacant and nearly derelict, and help prompt revitalization of the area, said David Buicko, Galesi’s chief operating officer .

“The credits make the second building viable. It is a tough building to develop,” Buicko said. “You need every bell and whistle to make it work economically.”

Dan Keefe, spokesman for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said owners of properties on the lists are eligible for federal and state rehabilitation tax credits, which can be applied to the total cost of rehabilitating structures.

Buicko said he has no timeline regarding rehabilitation of the 845 Broadway, which would depend on signing a tenant.

“You just have to find the right user,” Buicko said. “The good thing about Schenectady is that it is being considered as a place to move businesses, whereas in the past it was not even on the radar.”

Galesi bought the Broadway properties in 2007 for roughly $760,000 after a non-profit group, which obtained the site for free from Schenectady International, fell into debt over maintenance costs. Galesi rehabilitated 797 Broadway after landing Schenectady County as a tenant. The county relocated its DSS there under a long-term contract.

The county is not looking to move into 845 Broadway, officials said.

According to Galesi’s application to the state, Mica was a pioneering electrical insulation firm that was founded in 1893 by engineers from Edison Machine Works, later General Electric. The building dates to 1915 and was known as the Micanite Works, which produced mica-based products. The building at 797 Broadway was built in 1946 and served as a manufacturing facility and company headquarters.

The buildings represent examples of daylight factories — huge reinforced, fire-resistent concrete structures with wide-open interiors.

Mica went out of business in 1975. Schenectady International owned the buildings for more than 25 years before donating the properties to Uncle Sam’s House in 2001. Uncle Sam’s sold the properties after the city blocked its efforts to house veterans recovering from alcohol and drug dependencies. Uncle Sam’s also wanted to operate a commercial laundry at the site.

Also recommended to the lists were:

Albany County

• Slingerlands Historic District, Bethlehem. The district includes the earliest scattered Federal and Greek Revival farmhouses built between 1790 and the Civil War, Victorian-era villas built after 1863 when a new railroad allowed for commuting into Albany, as well suburban development from the 20th century, when widespread commuting by automobile became possible.

• A Queen Anne-style home at 698 Kenwood Ave., Bethlehem, built in 1874.

• Rowe Farm, Selkirk, which contains a large frame farmhouse of Italianate style and a large timber-frame hay barn. They were erected between 1875 and 1879.

Montgomery County

• John Smith Farm, Minden. The site contains farm buildings dating to 1834, in a rural setting of pastures, woodlands and tilled fields.

Rensselaer County

• Backus Farmstead, Pittstown. The site contains historic agricultural outbuildings and a farmhouse built in the mid-19th century that has been continuously farmed for more than a century.

Schoharie County

• John Lehman House, Sharon. Constructed about 1855, the farmhouse is characteristic of regional building practices and local adaptations of Greek Revival styles during the mid-19th century in rural New York.

Categories: Schenectady County

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