The outside of the 284-year-old building housing the Scotia branch of the Schenectady County Public Library is getting a much-needed facelift.
Work began recently to demolish the existing porch and build a new one at the facility on Mohawk Avenue near the Western Gateway Bridge. The porch had been deteriorating for several years, and the footings had basically rotted away, according to Schenectady County Public Library Director Andy Kulmatiski.
“There was not much support under it at all,” he said.
Kulmatiski added that the columns in front of the building were tilted and unsteady.
The building was constructed in 1728 by John Lindsay Glen, a Scot who immigrated to America in the 1600s and joined Arendt Van Curler in the original Dutch settlement of Schenectady. Glen built what is now the Glen Sanders Mansion, according to an architectural report about the building that was mentioned in a 2004 Daily Gazette article.
Glen also constructed the Dutch Colonial building now housing the library and willed it to his son, Abraham. The village took ownership of the building in 1927 and put in the library in 1928.
The structure is clapboard-covered, and the dormers are slate tile. The porch is not original to the building— library officials believe it was added around the time it became a library.
The library became part of the Schenectady County Public Library system in 1949. Although the building is owned by the village of Scotia, the county has a 100-year lease on the property.
The interior was renovated extensively in 1997. In 2004, the building was recognized as a historic place by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Kulmatiski said any work will be in keeping with the historic designation.
“Anything we do there will not change its appearance whatsoever,” he said. “Basically, it will look exactly like it looked before, except it won’t collapse.”
Kulmatiski said a lot of people love the porch.
“It’s a neat place to sit down and read,” he said.
The work is being done in-house, according to Schenectady County spokesman Joe McQueen. The cost of the work is expected to be between $5,000 to $7,000 and is being funded through the library’s capital projects budget.
McQueen said workers took “before” pictures and have all of the specifications, so the new construction will look identical to the previous porch. He didn’t know when the project would be finished.
Mayor Kris Kastberg agreed the wraparound porch is the most recognized part of the building.
“It’s not original to the building, but it’s definitely what gives the building some character,” he said.