The entire project is expected to cost approximately $2.2 million, said Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover.
“There will be no affect on the tax rate,” said Conover. “The costs of the project will be met through grants, private contributions, money that we’ve saved and set aside for our parks and from community development funds that will be repaid from occupancy tax receipts.”
While both buildings are owned by the municipality, “it’s what happens inside these building that makes them important. The Chamber of Commerce and the Historical Society, which will occupy them, are terrific partners. Their commitment to the town sets our community apart from others,” said Conover.
Earlier this spring, the Town Board adopted a resolution authorizing the Supervisor to sign contracts with JMZ architects, the planning and design firm LA Group and AR Stern, an architectural services firm.
“This is a good team. We had many meetings, and then we started in earnest by contracting for very specific, detailed drawings. We’re now ready to take the next steps,” Conover said.
The New Visitors Center
JMZ, the Glens Falls firm led by Bolton native Tenee Rehm Casaccio, has designed the Visitors Center, which will replace the Bolton Chamber of Commerce’s log building and an existing restroom building.
Last summer, the Town Board gave its conceptual approval to the project after viewing preliminary designs by the LA Group and JMZ, which developed plans with an advisory committee composed of representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, the Historical Society, the library and the town’s residents.
According Casaccio, the advisory committee chose a design for a Visitors Center linking new Chamber offices, rest rooms, a public space and a gazebo by porches and walk ways.
The Visitors Center will be situated closer to Main Street than the existing building, both to align it with the street’s commercial buildings and to provide a storefront on Main Street. The building will also be accessible from the park.
“We’ve talked of the Visitors Center as a gateway to the town and the park. We’re inviting people into the community. As architects, we solve problems, and one of the problems we addressed was how to make a gateway that’s welcoming,” said Casaccio.
Casaccio expects the gazebo to be especially popular.
“I believe it will become one of the town’s favored and favorite places; it can be used for special events, but it will also be a nice place to observe activities in the park, such as the annual tree lighting ceremony,” said Casaccio.
“I think the building as a whole will enrich the experience of being in the park. I hope that when people see it, they will feel that it sits in the landscape so well that it appears as though it has always been there. I also hope that it conveys the message that our town is one that cares about good architecture,” Casaccio continued.
New Landscaping for Rogers Park
A new entrance to the Bolton Historical Museum and its addition will be linked to the Visitors Center by a walkway with a central plaza, said Tim Larson of the LA Group.
Working with the Town of Bolton as well as with the architects of the Visitors Center and the museum addition, the LA Group will create a landscaping plan for the park, a plan that includes sidewalks, lighting, benches and kiosks, said Larson.
“When we were asked by the Town to work on this phase of the improvements to Rogers Park, we treated the site as a single, unified project,” said Larson.
As part of the new design, memorial stones and benches, as well as the sculpture by Leon Pratt, will be moved to new locations, said LA Group’s founder Jeff Anthony.
“Given the new circulation areas, as defined by the new sidewalks, they will have to be re-located,” said Anthony. “But I have no doubt that Supervisor Conover will be very sensitive to the concerns of the families and that appropriate places will be found.”
The sculpture by Leon Pratt, who worked as an assistant to famed artist David Smith before his death in 1965, was loaned to the Historical Society by Smith’s two daughters, said Ted Caldwell, the town historian and a member of the Historical Society’s Board of Directors.
Its future location will be determined in consultation with that family, said Caldwell.
The LA Group will also be responsible for planning the efficient delivery of water, sewer and other services to both buildings, said Anthony.
The Lake George Association has received a grant to help craft a storm water management plan for the site, and the LA Group will work with that organization as well, Anthony said.
The Historical Museum’s New Wing
Allan Stern, an architect now living in Bolton Landing, is responsible for overseeing the construction of the addition to the Bolton Historical Museum.
Reuben Caldwell, the Bolton Central School graduate who designed the wing with Leigh Salem, his partner in the Brooklyn-based firm Studio Tack, will work with Stern.
Among the design’s most prominent features are large windows, creating seamless views of the park, the lake and the mountains on the opposite shore.
“I like the fact that it’s open; it’s almost transparent,” said Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover. “It’s modern, but fitting. The reaction from our Town Board has been overwhelmingly positive.”
“The glass is intended to make the interior inviting from the park; pedestrians could look inside the building and see what’s on display,” said Ed Scheiber, the president of the Historical Society’s Board of Directors. “From the inside, the vistas of the park, the beach, the lake and the Sagamore are no less inviting.”
Inside the new wing, exhibits would be displayed on panels, which could be moved about as exhibitions change or removed altogether when the space is devoted to exhibitions of boats or other large objects.
The wing is intended, in part, to be “an ode to the wood construction of the boats held within,” said Caldwell.
Among some people, the building will evoke images of boathouses, old marinas and boat builders’ workshops, Caldwell said.
“Every building contains clues about its origins,” said Caldwell.
But, he added, a building should not be so literal in its translations of its sources as to limit interpretations and impressions.
“We use elements in such a way that people can look at the building from multiple reference points, including barns, ice houses and the commercial buildings of Main Street, as well as boat houses,” said Caldwell. “The building should communicate something meaningful to a broad range of back grounds.”
In addition to its origins, a building also provides viewers with information about its function, said Caldwell.
He added, “the function of the museum is not solely to preserve accumulated history. The contemporary feel of the new wing should remind people that we’re always creating history. This is a building that says the story is on-going.”
According to Scheiber, the Historical Society has raised approximately $150,000 for the new wing. An additional $30,000 has been raised by the Friends of the Bolton Historical Society, a group of younger residents who organized a committee to support the new wing.
The renovation and redesign of Rogers Park and the construction of the new buildings “is a transformative moment for the Town of Bolton,” said Supervisor Conover.
“You can begin to see how our plans for the parks and the hamlet are coming together. The new pier and the docks, the new Visitors Center and the museum expansion, are no longer just elements. They’re part of a whole, a successful building program that builds upon and re-enforces what we have in place,” Conover said.
Photos: Above, Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover and the LA Group’s Jeff Anthony and Tracey Clothier discuss the renovation of Rogers Park with members of the New York Planning Federation; middle, JMZ Architects’ rendering of the new Bolton Landing Visitors Center; and below, Al Stern’s rendering of the new wing of the Bolton Historical Museum, based on designs by Ruben Caldwell.
A version of the story was first published at Lake George Mirror Magazine.