A downtown commercial building, a YMCA conference center and a private home, all on or near Lake George, all received awards from Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) when the organization held its annual luncheon in Lake Clear on September 30.
Jim Major’s restored Heustis block in Ticonderoga, the Silver Bay YMCA and the Bixby family’s house in Bolton Landing were among the six properties to receive awards this year, said Susan Arena, AARCH’s program director.
“The AARCH Awards Program recognizes exemplary historic preservation work throughout the Adirondack Park. We seek examples of sensitive restoration, rehabilitation, and demonstrated long-term stewardship. This year’s winners from the Lake George area certainly meet that criteria,” said Arena.
According to AARCH, 2 to 5-story buildings constructed in the 19th and early 20th centuries are characteristic features of upstate New York Main Streets.
“These commercial rows have endured changing uses and economies and with timely care, they can last for centuries. While street level business may catch our attention first, the upper floors are also integral to the buildings. However, vacant upper stories present opportunities and challenges for reuse,” AARCH stated.
Jim Major, the Heart Bay resident who has played a leading role in the revitalization of downtown Ticonderoga, buying and restoring old commercial buildings, met the opportunity and challenge of reusing a building’s upper stories in an exciting an inventive way.
Major’s most recent acquisition and renovation, the block that he purchased for $35,000 and in which he invested $250,000 in renovations, not only houses a new bakery and café on the ground floor, but contemporary dorm rooms for 16 students in the upper story.
The students will attend the Ticonderoga campus of North Country Community College, and, according to the members of the Ticonderoga Revitalization Alliance, may be the first wave of students populating downtown Ticonderoga and helping to bringing new life to the once prosperous mill town.
“To be recognized for something I love doing is the best of two worlds, saving an historic building and earning recognition for one’s basic beliefs,” said Major. “My partners and I thank AARCH and everyone who appreciates architecture and the value of history. We feel a sense of pride for our efforts and we’re especially grateful to the organization, Pride of Ticonderoga, for nominating the Heustis block.”
Silver Bay YMCA, which was designated a National Historic Place in 1980, was recognized for stewardship that has been sustained for more than a century, said Susan Arena.
In 2011, Silver Bay launched the largest capital campaign in its history. The campaign has been guided by Silver Bay’s recently completed master site plan, which identifies the buildings and other facilities on the main campus in need of repair, restoration or replacement.
Built by St. Louis industrialist, collector and philanthropist W.K. Bixby on the site of the Mohican House hotel in 1902, the house has served as gathering place for his family and descendants ever since.
The Colonial Revival house was designed by Wilson Eyre (1858-1944), among the foremost architects of American country homes of his generation.
“About thirty years ago, I grew alarmed at the conditions of portions of the structure,” said Ted Caldwell, a great grandson of W.K. Bixby. “We began the work of stabilizing the house and have continued to conduct annual maintenance ever since.”
Caldwell and his wife Jane attended the luncheon at Lake Clear Lodge and accepted the award on behalf of his family.
“We’re honored to receive this award; a great deal of work has gone into the preservation and restoration of Mohican Point,” said Caldwell.
Adirondack Architectural Heritage is a nonprofit historic preservation organization for New York State’s Adirondack Park. AARCH was formed in 1990 with a mission to promote better public understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Adirondacks’ unique and diverse architectural heritage.
Photos from the Lake George Mirror Archives: Above, Silver Bay; middle, the Huestis Block, Ticonderoga; and below, Mohican Point.