SCHENECTADY -- Schenectady County will clean and restore the facade of Schenectady County Community College's main building -- the historic Elston Hall -- starting later this month, county officials said Thursday.
The cost of the $350,000 project is to be split between the county and the state, officials said. The six-story building at the corner of State Street and Washington Avenue is the former Hotel Van Curler, which was built in 1925 and has long been a downtown Schenectady landmark.
The project will include cleaning the limestone-trimmed brick facade of the massive old building, which is considered an example of Classic Revival architecture. The cleaning will remove dirt, mold and mildew, and workers will reglaze and paint the windows and repair wood and masonry surfaces.
The hotel, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was purchased by the county after prior owners declared bankruptcy to be the home of the newly founded community college. The first classes were in the building -- renamed Elston Hall -- in 1969.
Next year, the college will mark its 50th anniversary.
"What better way to kick off our 50th anniversary in 2019 than by renovating the historic Elston Hall, our original home and a key part of Schenectady history," said college President Dr. Steady Moono.
When it was the Hotel Van Curler, the business had 250 guest rooms and was a popular lunch spot for General Electric employees, as well as a location for parties and weddings. Franklin D. Roosevelt stayed there once when he was New York's governor, and U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, D-N.Y., was also a guest.
The building sits directly across the street from the new Gateway Plaza, an expanded version of Liberty Park, and close to where the former YMCA was recently renovated into apartments. Other construction projects are also underway on lower State Street within a few blocks of the college.
"We will continue to work with Dr. Moono and his team to improve the campus that strategically sits at the gateway to our revitalized downtown," said County Legislator Richard Patierne, D-Schenectady, chairman of the county's Committee on Libraries and Education.
At Elston Hall other recent improvements included replacement of the air conditioning tower, installation of four new elevators, newly renovated restrooms on four floors and construction of a biotechnology lab on the sixth floor, county officials said. Campus parking lots were also repaved this summer.
Fall classes at the college start Tuesday, Sept. 4. The college's full-time enrollment is about 2,700 students.