The Preservation League of New York State has awarded a grant to Historic Fort Plain to support plans to rehabilitate a historic church building for an arts and cultural center.
The $2,750 technical assistance grant will be used for a building condition survey at the former Universalist Church on Center Street. The structure, built in 1896, was threatened with demolition in 2011 after decades of vacancy, but an organization was formed to convert it to a community center.
“We envision a beautiful, historic space that will serve the people of western Montgomery County as a concert hall, theater space, fine arts gallery space, educational center with classroom and workshop facilities and more,” said Historic Fort Plain Treasurer Tolga Morawski in a statement. “We also hope to open a cafe or coffeehouse and create a space for events such as weddings and graduations.”
Morawski said the grant moneys will be used to hire Crawford and Stearns, a preservation architecture firm based in Syracuse, to conduct a detailed condition survey of the former church building and to develop a plan on what would need to be fixed or restored. Morawski added the survey that will be generated is necessary when applying for larger grants to fund construction.
The Preservation League launched the technical assistance grant program in 2012 to support projects that preserve New York state’s cultural and historic resources.
Through the program, grants of up to $3,000 are available to not-for-profit arts and cultural groups and municipalities managing historic sites, museums, arts facilities and other culturally important institutions that are located in historic buildings and structures open to the public.
“In a very competitive grant round, applicants sought funds for technical studies to be carried out by preservation and design professionals which included building conditions surveys, engineering and structural analyses and feasibility and reuse studies,” said Tania Werbizky, the League’s regional director of technical and grant programs in western New York, in a news release. “The Preservation League is delighted to help advance the efforts of Historic Fort Plain with this grant.”
“The technical assistance grant program builds on the track record of excellence the League has established with the similarly NYSCA-funded Preserve New York Grant program,” said Jay DiLorenzo, president of the Preservation League, in the release. “Our program fills a significant funding gap. It is tailored to provide support to worthy projects in New York that are ineligible for grants from other sources, or may not have the scope or scale to compete at regional and national levels.”
The second of two grant rounds in 2012 awarded $14,338 to six projects in as many counties.
Each grant recipient must provide a $500 match.
According to the Historic Fort Plain website, the Universalist Church of the Messiah has a long history in the village. It was an important institution that served not only a large number of western Montgomery County residents, but also the students enrolled at the Clinton Liberal Institute, which was associated with the church from 1879 to 1900. The first church was wooden, and in 1896, was torn down and replaced on site with the brick building that stands today.
Page 2 of 2 - For more information on Historic Fort Plain, visit historicfortplain.com.