GLENVILLE — The town has secured $150,000 in state grant money toward refurbishing the historic Yates Mansion — about one-third of what will be needed to open the home of early 19th-century New York Gov. Joseph Yates to the public.
Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle called the grants announced at a fundraiser Friday night a solid start toward preserving one of the oldest buildings in Schenectady County, which the town purchased earlier this year in an effort to save it from demolition.
"There's a lot of excitement about the Yates Mansion," Koetzle said. "It's going to be a long process, but it's off to a good start."
State Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ballston, has arranged a $100,000 grant, and state Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, has garnered another $50,000 in state funding.
The fundraiser at River Stone Manor featured period music by the Musicians of Maalwyck and brought in about $10,000, Koetzle said, boosting the total raised to $160,000. The town has also applied for technical assistance grants.
Walsh said she obtained the $100,000 grant through the State and Municipal Facilities program of the State Dormitory Authority, which allows legislators to award money to specific projects.
"It takes a while for those funds to materialize, but it works out well with this kind of project because (the funding) is going to be needed down the road," Walsh said Tuesday.
Tedisco made his commitment from the same grant program due to the building's historic importance, according to Adam Kramer, Tedisco's chief of staff.
"A former governor of New York lived there, and it's important to preserve it," Kramer said.
Town officials have estimated it will cost about $500,000 to renovate the Maple Avenue building, which the town purchased in March for $100,000. Since then, the town has cleared dead or overgrown trees from the property, making the mansion more visible. Work has yet to start on the interior, which Koetzle said will need to be gutted.
The long-term goal is to turn the white brick building into a town history center. Koetzle said future public meetings will resolve such issues as whether the 1990s addition should be removed.
As more residents and businesses move to the area, Walsh said she supports projects like the Yates Mansion renovation so town history and identity are preserved.
"This could be a real center for the community," she said.
The house is where early New York Gov. Joseph Yates lived for part of each year. It was built in 1734 by his grandfather, also named Joseph Yates. Yates was also a state senator, a judge and served as New York's seventh governor from 1823-24. Yates County in western New York is named for him.
In addition to the 18th-century part of the home, there have been three additions dating from the 1880s to the 1990s, as the home went through a succession of owners before being carved awkwardly into apartments that remained in use until just a few years ago.
For the past three or four years, it has been abandoned and deteriorating. It faced a government foreclosure sale, and the town bought it because of concerns a developer would buy the property and raze the mansion.
Koetzle said the town is working with Synthesis Architects of Schenectady, though they don't yet have a formal agreement.
"For its age, it's in pretty good shape," Koetzle said.
In addition to the recent fundraiser, Koetzle said there's a new painting of the mansion and a display about it expected to go up at Town Hall. Notecards with the mansion's image are also being offered for sale to help raise funds.
The next fundraiser will be a family-oriented outdoor community festival on Saturday, Oct. 21, at the mansion. The 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. event will be free, but Koetlze acknowledged the hope is that some who attend will make donations after learning more about the town's plans.