SCOTIA -- Schenectady County has received a $345,077 state grant for improvements at the Scotia branch of the county library system, located in one of the oldest buildings in the county.
The grant is enough for the county to go forward with repairs to the building as well as a small addition, which between them are estimated to cost about $760,000. The county will pick up the rest of the cost.
The library on the western edge of Collins Park is located in the Abraham Glen House, which was built in 1728 by the family for whom the town of Glenville is named. The county plans to make some repairs to the building this year, with a small addition to be added in 2020.
“This project has been on the table for a year or two as far as realizing it needed a historic renovation," said County Legislator Rory Fluman of Scotia. “For anyone who has been to that library it has a great view of the park and the [Collins Lake] water. Kids can take a fishing pole out of the library. It really is a community library.”
The county applied for state funding last year and was recently notified it would receive a $345,077 grant from the state Department of Education.
The building is owned by the village of Scotia, but the county has a long-term lease to use it as a library.
Scotia Mayor Thomas Gifford said the village hasn't seen details of the county plans, but is happy the county is investing in the building, especially since the library lacks meeting space, even for children's programs.
"We're really pleased that the county is spending money on it," Gifford said. "The whole reason for them thinking about doing this is that they'd go to a program there and see 50 people crammed into a little room, moving chairs and tables aside to make room, and that sort of thing."
The work expected to start this year will repair and stabilize the building at an estimated cost of $280,000. The project will include replacement of the slate roof, repair or replacement of specific sections of the wood siding, restoration of wood windows and the chimney, exterior painting and installation of stone drainage around the exterior of the building.
The extent of work is based on the recommendations of a historic preservation architect the county hired to evaluate the building last year, according to Donald Scheuer, the county's facilities director.
In 2020, plans call for the county making an 850-square-foot addition to the back of the building that will include a meeting space, handicapped-accessible restrooms, and some storage space, Scheuer said. It will be designed in keeping with the building's historic character. That project is estimated to cost $480,000, with the new state grant covering about 75 percent of the cost.
"This is really worthy of our attention and reinvestment," said County Legislator Richard Ruzzo, D-Schenectady. "Important programming is being done in a building that was built in 1728."
The building is on the State and National Historic Registers, meaning any improvements must maintain the structure's historic character. The building was extensively modified in the early 20th century but still retains its basic form and original materials.
The Glen house is considered a rare surviving example of the region's Dutch colonial heavy timber frame homes, though it has undergone significant alterations over the years.
The house was built by or for Abraham Glen, a grandson of Scotia's founder, Alexander Lindsay Glen (namesake of Glenville). It remained in the family until 1842, when it was bought by Charles and James Collins, for whom Collins Park is named. The village acquired it for use as a library in 1924, and the county entered a 100-year lease with the village in 1949, making the county responsible for its upkeep and maintenance.