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 is slated to start next month.

That’s if the state gives the historical society permission to begin the project while it waits to resolve a $136,000 shortfall for another portion of its capital project, installing an elevator on the west side of the historic Paddock Mansion.

Museum officials had projected the bid for the elevator would come in at $360,000 but the low bid ended up $514,500. The elevator will improve access to the public in the three-story Washington Street landmark.

Despite the funding issues with the elevator, Councilwoman Lisa A. Ruggiero, who also serves as the historical society’s board president, said the roof project “is all set,” with the bid coming within budget. The low bid for the roof work came in $18,000 under its $500,000 budget.

The historical society obtained $506,000 in the city’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative program for the roof replacement. The Watertown engineering firm of BCA designed the roof and elevator projects. The new elevator will take visitors from the basement to the third floor.

The historical society board has contacted city officials to see if some of the $2.1 million in DRI funding that had been appropriated for the now-defunct Jefferson Community College’s TechSpace entrepreneurial center project can be redistributed and used for the elevator. The elevator project also is supposed to start next month.

Michael A. Lumbis, the city’s planning and community development director, said Thursday that the state hasn’t decided how to redistribute the DRI money to the historical society.

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

The historical society did not receive any bids for a $96,000 project to develop new interactive exhibits utilizing tablets and touch screens and to install a new HVAC system, Mrs. Ruggiero said.

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 historical society to be used as a museum.

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.

Three years ago, the city received $10 million for its DRI program. The other eight DRI projects by private developers were slowed because of the coronavirus pandemic, but most of them are back on track.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.