The Glenville Town Board on Wednesday agreed to buy the 283-year-old Yates Mansion, one of the oldest and most historic buildings in town, to save it from possible demolition.
The town will be paying $100,000 from fund reserves to buy the mansion and two acres of property from the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., which holds title following a foreclosure. The Town Board held a special meeting to approve the purchase, which was announced last Friday.
"It is one of Schenectady County's most historic structures and one of Schenectady County's most prominent families," said Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle. "The building is worth saving and can be a source of local pride."
Town officials plan to repair the building -- which needs a significant amount of interior repair -- and convert it into a town history center and meeting hall.
"I think with work this could be one of those iconic images we could use to identify Glenville," said Councilman David Hennel.
Town officials have been talking since last year, when the mortgage agency put the building on the market, about finding ways to save it rather than see it bought by a developer who would likely demolish it to make way for new housing. "There's been very little interest in it except for new multifamily housing," Koetzle said.
A complete restoration has been estimated to cost $500,000 or more.
The two-story structure is at 133 Maple Ave., near the intersection with Alplaus Avenue. It was built by Joseph Yates in 1734. His grandson, also named Joseph C. Yates, became the first mayor Schenectady in 1798, and in 1822 became governor -- the only governor to hail from Schenectady County. Yates was the state's seventh governor. The family lived in Schenectady and used the 6,200-square-foot Glenville mansion as a summer residence.
It's unclear when the nine-bedroom mansion left the Yates family, but it was used as apartments between roughly the 1960s and 2011. In the 1940s, it was a restaurant called the Governor's Inn.
The property has been vacant for the past two years, and town officials were concerned about its deterioration. They have been talking publicly since at least December about how to save it.
Koetzle said the building has been inspected and, while black and brown mold were found, the only lead was in exterior paint, and the only asbestos was in the wrap around basement pipes. "It's actually better than we expected," he told about 20 people who attended the meeting, all in support of the building's preservation.
About a dozen people spoke during a public comment period prior to the vote, all in favor of the project.
"I am pleased the board is forward-looking," said Bob Winchester, who lives in nearby Alplaus. "Often it is easier to tear down historic structures than to save them."
Koetzle said the purchase is consistent with the town's new comprehensive plan, which calls for the town putting more of an emphasis on preserving its history.
"Our plan is to immediately stabilize the house and clean up what we can clean up," Koetzle said. "We're already looking for grants."
Town officials believe the house potentially qualifies for the list of state and national historic landmarks.