Jul 16, 2012 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The Spafford Area Historical Society, which has been working for more than a decade to renovate and restore the historic Borodino Hall at the four corners in Borodino, has recently received some much needed — and somewhat unexpected — help from members of the local community. Employees of Welch Allyn volunteered their time to rebuild the deteriorated stage area of the hall while an anonymous benefactor recently paid for a complete exterior paint job on the building.
The historical society has been diligently renovating the nearly 200-year-old building, and its members are hoping to have work completed by 2013 to allow the hall to be used for bigger, more extensive events and concerts. The ultimate goal is to help the building generate its own revenue for its continued upkeep.
“We are just overwhelmed with what’s going on at the Hall, between the gift of the paint job on the outside and the Welch Allyn folks coming in to rebuild the stage … we’re all feeling overwhelmed and overworked — but its worth it,” said Mary Bean, president of Spafford Area Historical Society.
Borodino Hall, the former Grange Hall, at the four corners of Borodino, is a federal-style building constructed circa 1835, and one of the oldest buildings in the area. Spafford Area Historical Society bought the building from the Grange for $1 in 1997 and immediately began fundraising and renovation work. In 2006, the building was added to both the national and state Register of Historic Places.
While Borodino Hall was opened for use by groups and individuals for public and private functions in late 2008, fundraising and renovation — the latter being impossible without the former — have been ongoing.
Within the past few weeks, however, two major projects were accomplished by volunteers at no cost to the historical society or the town of Spafford.
In mid-June, an anonymous benefactor donated the cost for painting the entire exterior of the building, which included the paint and the hiring of a professional painting contractor, Joe Telesca, from Liverpool, for the work.
The job took two weeks of scraping, priming and applying two coats (25 total gallons) of paint, and was completed Friday, June 29. The last paint job on the building was in 2004.
“The building badly needed paint and we are so grateful for the donation as the building now looks as majestic as it did when Fredrick Douglas spoke from the front porch in 1861,” said Mary Bean, SAHS president. “The painting of the hall enhances the beauty and value of the whole community. It would be several years before the SAHS could raise the money needed for this job. We are so grateful to our benefactor.”
New stage added
Most recently, on Friday, July 13, a group of volunteers comprised of Welch Allyn company employees and local residents spent the entire day completely rebuilding the badly deteriorated stage area inside the hall, as well as adding new lighting and electrical wires and outlets.
The work was done as part of Welch Allyn’s annual “A Show of Hands” corporate social responsibility campaign, during which more than 700 company employees spend a day helping more than 20 non-profit organizations in the Central New York area. Sal Strods, a Spafford resident, SAHS board member and Welch Allyn vice president for research and development, recruited and led the team for the day’s work.
“We were here last year too [for the Welch Allyn campaign] taking out the old kitchen area in the basement to open it up to be able to serve refreshments. Everyone on the team had so much fun, when I asked them to come back they said yes, and a few other guys even joined in,” Strods said.
The group started work at about 11 a.m. on July 13 and hoped to finish by 5 p.m. — this was after hundreds of hours of prep work by Strods, local contractor Matt O’Brien and several other volunteers. “As we tore into [the stage] what we thought would be simple prep work turned into a major job,” Strods said.
The entire structure of the stage and the ceiling and back wall of the building was basically rotted and needed rebuilding, said O’Brien, who is also an SAHS member. “We rebuilt the back wall and it just sort of mushroomed from there,” he said, adding that the group preferred to “do it right” than do it quick and easy. The work included new wood, reframing, bolstering of the structural integrity and added insulation.
In addition to the structural work, a new lighting system was installed that created separate power outlets for lights and sound equipment on the stage, as was an electrical system up in the balcony with separate outlets for spotlights.
“Our hope is that this [hall] will become a great venue for music and other performances,” Strods said. “Recent bands that have played here all said this had some of the best acoustics they’ve ever played in. For me it’s a great place to listen to music. When you sit in the old benches you can just feel the history of the place.”
The rebuilt stage and new paint job both are huge contributions to the full renovation of Borodino Hall, but a few major projects remain, Bean said. During the next year, the SAHS hopes to complete a drainage remediation project to prevent the basement from flooding, repair and stabilize the deteriorating cement and stone basement walls and floor and install a building-wide ventilation and air conditioning system, she said.
To accomplish these projects, the SAHS relies mostly on its two major fundraising events each year: the “Giro of Otisco” bicycle race and the annual Barn Sale.
The “Giro of Otisco,” which occurred on June 16, was the biggest turnout yet, with more than 100 riders and more than $4,000 raised — twice as much as last year, Bean said.
The annual barn sale will occur this year on Saturday, Aug. 4, at Borodino Hall, and the SAHS is currently seeking items to be donated to the sale. “The more stuff we have, the more money we can make,” Bean said.
Last year’s barn sale raised about $2,200, and the society hopes for even more this year.
Donations can be made between 8 a.m. and noon, Saturday, July 21 and 28, at the Hall, or other times by appointment. Pick up of large items or large lots of items can be arranged. Call 391-8477 to make arrangements or for more information.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.