SCHENECTADY — The Schenectady Heritage Foundation will honor three buildings in the Stockade Historic District for significant improvements made to the structures.
The winners are Haley Priebe, owner of Arthur’s Market at 35 N. Ferry St., Diane Runkel, owner of the Kranick Family House at 12 N. College Street, and Jac Solghan, owner of 16 N. Church St.
The trio will be saluted during an informal ceremony in front of Arthur’s Market next Thursday at 4 p.m. The award venue’s usual location, City Hall, remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year’s ceremony was canceled because of the pandemic. There were also fewer candidates for the award this year because the pandemic led to fewer renovations in the county.
Priebe purchased 35 N. Ferry St. in December 2018. It was in need of extensive repairs that took two years to complete before the market could be reopened two months ago.
The building has been a market since it was built in 1795, and the current incarnation — Arthur’s — was begun in 1952 by the late Arthur Polachek. By the time he retired in 2003, Polachek was a beloved figure in the neighborhood, and his market an institution. But the building had three owners between Polachek and Priebe, and the ground floor market had four operators, one of whom ran it for two separate stints.
Repairs made by Priebe include plumbing, electric, HVAC system and a new roof. The new owner also installed a handicap accessible customer bathroom – because customers previously had to walk through the kitchen to use the bathroom. Priebe also transformed a two-car parking area in the back into a patio for outdoor seating. It opens Friday.
The biggest change, she said, was outfitting a full commercial kitchen with enough height for an exhaust hood. The kitchen she inherited had an extremely low ceiling.
Replacing single-pane aluminum frame windows, which improved the building’s insulation and energy efficiency, was another big upgrade, Priebe said.
The Heritage Foundation, which provides financial assistance on projects such as these, financed all of the business’s first floor windows, said Gloria Kishton, chairwoman of the foundation.
Priebe said she wants to preserve the legacy of Polachek and previous proprietors. “I did the restoration with the future in mind and then maintaining the building in mind, and hopefully we’re running the business in a way that also provides kind of a community tie built on the legacy that was here before us.”
“We thought it was just fantastic how the new owners redid the entire place,” Kishton said.
The Kranick Family House, according to Kishton, was built in the late 1800s, and Runkel aimed to restore it because it was in her family for many years.
“The house was actually covered with a lot of aluminum siding, and a lot of times people are reluctant to start looking for things underneath siding because you really don’t know what you’re going to find,” Kishton said. “But we encouraged her to just peel back a little bit, and so she did and she found that the original wood siding and that sort of thing was in relatively good condition.”
According to a statement by the foundation, Runkel and her team of contractors restored original materials and duplicated missing decorative elements. The results are transformational.
The building was built by the Kranicks during Schenectady’s boom era, and the house is associated with Schenectady’s history of broom making. George Kranick bought and operated the Whitmyre Broom Factory in 1947, producing brooms until the 1970s when the business closed and his Front Street factory was converted into condominiums.
Solghan, meanwhile, “had some tricky things that he had to do” in repairing the stucco on the front of 16 N. Church St., Kishton said. The building has since been offered for sale.
The owner restored much of the unusual exterior and also did extensive interior upgrades, Kishton said.
The chairwoman said she hopes there will be more projects to choose from next year. In addition to a general reluctance to have workers in their homes, some owners couldn’t get the supplies and products they needed to move forward on preservation projects during the pandemic, Kishton said.