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Amsterdam Free Library nominated for historic registries

Amsterdam Free Library nominated for historic registries

Designation could open up grant funding
Amsterdam Free Library nominated for historic registries
The exterior of the Amsterdam Free Library is shown in this file photo from July 25.
Photographer: Marc Schultz / Gazette Photographer

AMSTERDAM -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday that the New York State Board for Historic Preservation has recommended adding 14 locations to the State and National Registers of Historic Places — including the Amsterdam Free Library.

"These storied sites represent exceptional and fascinating pieces of New York's rich and diverse history," Cuomo stated. "Adding these properties to the State and National Registers of Historic Places would ensure they have the funding they need so we can protect, preserve and promote them in all of their full glory for present and future generations of New Yorkers."

The State and National Registers are the official lists of buildings, structures, districts, landscapes, objects, and sites deemed both culturally and historically significant to New York state and the U.S.

"If you look at this nomination, along with the award the library received from the [Downtown Revitalization Initiative], I think that's going to really be transformational for that facility and the community," Mayor Michael Villa said.

The Amsterdam Free Library was built in 1903, when the city's population was growing and needed a large public library. It was designed by Albany architect Albert W. Fuller in a neoclassical Beaux-Arts-style.

In July, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the library would receive $1.8 million in state DRI grant funding to be put towards a $4.3 million renovation and expansion project to create a robust community center in the heart of the downtown district. The expanded library will include a new business incubator, a Science Technology, Engineering and Math education facility, and a multi-use community room complete with stage, screen, and sound and light equipment.

"That's going to really be transformational for that facility and for the community really, because what they are planning on offering, no where else around us has," Villa said.

If the library gets listed on the both State and National registers, it will make the location eligible for matching state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits. Since Cuomo signed legislation to bolster the state's use of rehabilitation tax credits in 2013, the state and federal program has spurred billions of dollars in completed investments of historic commercial properties and tens of millions in owner-occupied historic homes.

Two other locations in the Mohawk Valley were also nominated for placement on the registers:

  • Danascara Place, Tribes Hill: A house built in 1795 for Revolutionary War veteran Col. Frederick Visscher. Around 1870, Visscher's great-great grandson, Alfred DeGraff, transformed it from a simple brick farmhouse into a spacious dwelling with Italianate and other stylistic features.
  • Rutherford House, Edmeston: The large wood-frame residence was built in 1868 for Dr. William M. Spencer, a medical doctor and town supervisor. The building later had commercial success as a popular local hotel for the community, especially those utilizing the railroads through the area from 1889-1910.  It is an intact example of the Italianate style.

In the Capital Region, two locations were nominated for placement on the registries:

  • The Washington Avenue Corridor Historic District, Albany: Considered one of the city's most prominent thoroughfares, the district boasts numerous important public institutions and an encyclopedic collection of buildings encompassing most major national architectural styles and trends from the early 19th century into the third quarter of the 20th century, which resulted in a diverse and dramatic urban streetscape not found anywhere else in the city.
  • The Glenco Mills Methodist Chapel, Livingston: Built in 1869, the chapel's construction was funded by Isaac Shaurman, a Livingston native who returned home following a successful career in New York City; he endowed the church to ensure the community's members had a place of worship.

"Protecting and revitalizing our historic places encourages smart economic growth, tourism, and community pride. Our office looks forward to working with the caretakers of these places to revitalize and connect new generations of New York to them," Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Erik Kulleseid stated in a news release.

There are more than 120,000 historic buildings, structures and sites throughout the state listed on the National Register of Historic Places, either individually or as components of historic districts.

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