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Gothic Cottage to be renovated for improved town office space

Issue of preservation versus functionality a concern

— The Crawford & Stearns 2009 report made a similar suggestion that the historic integrity of the building should be preserved while making it a functional office environment. The report states that the Gothic Cottage is “a distinctive example of American frame Gothic Revival that retains outstanding historic integrity to its original design,” and the original state of both the exterior and interior make the building “nearly unique.” This is why they recommended building an addition onto the back of the historic cottage rather than reconfiguring the interior.

“The existing Gothic Cottage does not provide adequate space for town government functions. In particular, town clerk functions, public access, toilet facilities and public meeting facilities are woefully inadequate or missing entirely,” the report states. “Given the historic importance of the interior spaces, it is not desirable to modify the Gothic Cottage interior plan in a manner that will diminish its historic character. The existing interior plan with spatial restrictions cannot adequately handle the needs of a municipal facility.”

Russell Grills, former Cazenovia town historian and Lorenzo site manager, said he believes that while the Gothic Cottage is “a beautiful piece” and “very picturesque,” it is certainly not as utilitarian or as spacious as the town needs for its office.

“My feeling is that the exterior needs to remain as it is. There’s no question about that,” Grills said. As for the interior, he said it is “certainly possible” to update and upgrade the building in a way that will not cause the cottage any lasting damage. “If [the town board] wants to take that effort, it can be done,” he said.

Chevako said she also is concerned about this issue of preservation versus function in any Gothic Cottage renovation plan.

“While I can definitely appreciate the need to make it current and functional, I worry a little about the procedure they went through [to make this decision],” Chevako said. She knows the cheapest way to renovate the Gothic Cottage will be to simply “gut” the interior and leave an empty shell to refill. “I shudder to think of that possibility,” she said.

Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at editor@cazenoviarepublican.com.

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