Plans progress on roof repair, elevator project at historical society

The Jefferson County Historical Society Museum on Washington St. in Watertown. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — Work on replacing the leaky roof and adding an elevator at the Jefferson County Historical Society museum won’t start until next spring.

But planning of the project, which will use $506,000 in the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding, is proceeding, board president Lisa A. Ruggiero said earlier this week.

The Watertown engineering firm of BCA is expected to start the design work this fall on the historic Paddock Mansion. Bids also have to go out.

The historical society also is using $500,000 in state Consolidated Funding Application funds and $50,000 arranged by state Sen. Patricia Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie, to complete the project.

“Everything is on track. We’re not anticipating to start until next spring,” Mrs. Ruggiero said.

Last week, historical society officials and Rick W. Tague of BCA toured the site and decided that the elevator, which will take visitors from the basement to the third floor, will go on the west side — or on the left if you are looking from Washington Street — on the exterior of the building, Mrs. Ruggiero said.

The DRI and CFA money will go toward an elevator for improved access, new exhibit technology with interactive displays and other improvements. A capital campaign also will finance the project and establish an endowment for the historical society.

Local officials have said that the museum is considered a downtown anchor and the improvements are important because it will help spur downtown revitalization and tourism,

Built in the 1870s, the Paddock Mansion was the home of local banker Edwin Paddock and his wife Olive. When Olive died in 1922, the building was gifted to the Jefferson County Historical Society to be used as a museum.

The mansion is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Two years ago, the city received $10 million for its DRI program. The other eight DRI projects by private developers have been slowed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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