Paul Smith's College demolished the historic Harriman Cottage on Tuesday to make way for a new building that will house the college's Adirondack Watershed Institute.
Original plans were to complete a historic renovation of the building that hadn't been used since the 1980s but dates to the 1890s and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was originally part of the Paul Smith's Hotel complex.
"I know a lot of people are very disappointed, and we are, too," Paul Smith's College spokesman Ken Aaron said. "This is a situation where we are at odds in terms of our desires. We wish we didn't have to do it."
The Harriman Cottage in 2006
(Enterprise file photo —Jacob Resneck)
The original cost of renovating the building was estimated at $2.6 million, an amount the college had been raising money and seeking grants to achieve. However, with rising construction costs, that amount jumped 40 percent to more than $4 million. Aaron said the college was still $500,000 short of the initial amount needed, forcing the college to make the difficult decision to raze the cottage.
"This was a very difficult decision, and we didn't take it lightly," college President John Mills said in a press release. "Frankly, it's not what we would have preferred to do. But Harriman has fallen into grave disrepair, and the economy is forcing us to make tough choices on how to spend our money."
The building that is planned to take Harriman Cottage's space will cost around $2.5 million and will be known as the Countess Alicia Spaulding-Paolozzi Environmental Research and Education Center.
According to Aaron, the money to construct the new building comes largely from the Countess Alicia Spaulding-Paolozzi Foundation, private donors and state money.
Aaron said the building will be built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards and designed to reflect the historic nature of its location.
The AWI currently has no permanent headquarters, and the lack of space has prevented it from buying and installing specialized research equipment that it needs to carry out larger-scale projects.
The stated mission of the AWI is "to create scientifically sound knowledge about terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and human relationships with the environment, enhance the educational opportunities available for undergraduate students and to engage the Adirondack community in ways that facilitate the stewardship of our natural resources."
One of the AWI's more visible projects is the Watershed Steward Program, which leads educational programs and puts stewards at area waterways to help ensure that invasive species are kept at bay.
Contact Emily Hunkler at (518) 891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.