The Oneida Air Systems team is ready to begin dust-free renovation demos in the property. Pictured from left to right are:Ken Nichols, Mark Schreiber, Jeff Hill, Mike Ledda, Mark Evertz, and Kristin Jankowski. (Submitted Photo)
By Hayleigh Gowans
Many residents of Minoa may remember attending Friday fish fries, Christmas tree lightings and strawberry shortcake socials at the former Masonic Temple on the corner of Main Street and East Avenue in Minoa — and soon these residents will get an update into the renovation of the historic building as it will be featured on a television episode of Operation Build on Sept. 17.
Kristin Jankowski and Rob Kelsey, of Camillus, decided to purchase the home in 2013 with the intention of restoring it to its original grandeur.
“It was the type of house that everyone in the community knew. With the high ceilings and grand staircase, it was a landmark of the village,” said Jankowski, who grew up in Minoa.
Operation Build is a TV show produced by Insight Television that “travels all over the country discovering great home improvement concepts in renovations, remodels and do-it-yourself projects,” according to the show’s website. It’s described as part history, part reality and part features of building technology.
Jankowski said the show approached the company she works for, Oneida Air Systems (OAS), to feature some of the products they offer that help reduce dust for renovation and construction projects. OAS General Manager Jeff Hill said he thought the renovation project Jankowski and Kelsey were taking on would be a perfect venue to exhibit the projects and what they do for the TV crew.
“It made sense to do the filming here,” said Hill. “We needed a place to do the TV show, so I asked Kristin [Jankowski] and from there we got a crew together.”
“Rob [Kelsey] and I are very excited, and thankful, to OAS for allowing us to use these products as part of the rest of our renovation. It’s going to make this very large project a lot simpler in many ways,” said Jankowski.
The Oneida Air Systems products that will be featured are: the Vortex Dust Collection System, which is a system that attaches to commercial sanding units so it dust isn’t released into the air when sanding floors; the Dust Deputy, which is a dust separator that attaches to wet/dry vacuums so dust is collected in a separate container before reaching a vacuums filter system; and the Viper Scraper, a hollow handle scraper that attaches to wet/dry vacuums to minimize post-project cleanup. All of these products are made in the USA, which is something Hill said the show focuses on.
On July 20, the TV crew and host, Andrew Dan-Jumbo, of Operation Build filmed a crew from Oneida Air Systems demonstrating how to use these products in a renovation like the one being undertaken in Minoa. The eight-minute segment that features this is scheduled to air at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17 on the A&E Network and at 7:30 a.m. on the FYI Network.
“We had a lot of people walking by and asking us what was going on,” said Jankowski. “It was fun. It was like having a bit of Hollywood in Minoa.”
It was like having a bit of Hollywood in Minoa.”
Kelsey said he worked a lot with the former village historian, Norma Jenner, to learn of the history of the house and to get a better idea of what the house looked like when it was originally built.
The property, owned by resident Conrad Shoemaker, first was location to a house that was built in 1869 but burned down in 1874. A new brick building was built in 1875, which is the current building that sits on the property.
According to his obituary, Shoemaker was a life-long resident of Minoa (known then as Manlius Station) and made his career in the railroad that ran through the village, and he was known for owning a large parcel of land where he built a race track for horses. He was also a New York State Assemblyman, elected to the town’s board of supervisors, vice-president of the People’s Savings Bank of Syracuse, a supporter of the Union in the Civil War and in attendance at the inauguration of President Benjamin Harrison in 1889.
The property remained in the hands of the Shoemaker family for decades, but was handed over to the Masons in the 1940s. The Masons used the building to carry out their meetings, as well as put on community events, such as a Friday fish fries, an annual strawberry shortcake social, live music and Christmas tree sales, among many other event. For many years, the property was used as the location of the village Christmas tree lighting.
The building remained in the hands of the Masons until about 2000, Kelsey said, and another group briefly owned it, but it went vacant around 2008.
“We had a lot of people interested in that property,” said Mayor Bill Brazill, who had a hand in the production of the shooting for Operation Build. “There were talks of turning it into a gas station or parking lot, but the village wasn’t really interested in tearing it down … I grew up going to events at the house. I’m excited to see the end results and I’m sure many other residents in the village are too.”
Kelsey and Jankowski have a few ideas for what they plan to do with the building once renovations are complete, and would like their end result to be a place that the community can still enjoy.
“We’re still formulating all the plans for it, but our favorite ideas surround making it a place where the community can gather and enjoy each other’s company — perhaps a café, or an event site for small weddings, showers and banquets,” said Jankowski. “We’re also considering some artisanal retail offerings — art, furniture, etc. to showcase local or items ‘Made in the USA.’”
Some work has already been completed, including replacing some of the brick structure that was decaying, painting the outside of the house, adding a new roof and refurbishing a one-bedroom apartment that the couple plans to rent out once it is complete.
Kelsey said there is still a lot of work to be done, which includes rebuilding a replica of the large porch, restoring the hardwood flooring and removing bricks from the windows on a second story room that the Masons bricked over in order to hold their meetings.
When their project is finished, the couple said they plan to have an open house to allow the community a chance to see the building that has held so many memories of residents throughout the years. “The porch was something a lot of people were upset about when we tore it down, but we do plan to build a new one,” said Kelsey. “We’re excited to see how it turns out and hope the people of Minoa can enjoy it too.”
To learn more about Oneida Air Systems, go to oneida-air.com.
To learn more about Operation Build, go to operationbuild.tv.
I am a reporter for the Eagle Bulletin and Cazenovia Republican at Eagle News. I report on topics ranging from town and village government, business, news and features. I am a 2014 graduate of the Roy H. Park School of Communications and have a degree in Journalism and a minor in Psychology.