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Trudeau building restoration passes Development Board

Dr. E.L. Trudeau’s old home and practice at 118 Main Street, which Historic Saranac Lake plans to convert into a museum in a multi-year renovation, is seen Wednesday. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

SARANAC LAKE — Historic Saranac Lake’s site plan to renovate Dr. E.L. Trudeau’s home and office into a museum was approved by the village Development Board Tuesday night.

The renovation of the building will be split into three phases. The first will be work on the exterior: returning the building to its original barn red and restoring front entrances, the original cure porches, fencing and foundation. Some of the greenery around the building will also be removed.

Phase two will be the interior: reworking the floor plan to more accurately resemble its early 20th century layout, and facilitate its use as a museum. Phase three will be the final conversion into a museum, addressing parking outside, and opening.

“In an ideal world, if all the contractors were available and you know all the regulations, and we get through all the red tape, we’d like to get through in three years,” HSL Executive Director Amy Catania said. “You know, year one is exterior, year two is interior, year three is museum and done, but that’s maybe ambitious.”

She said the regulations grant funding comes with make it hard to accurately predict a timeline.

“The key is its a historic preservation project,” Catania said. “We can’t start doing things until it’s been properly approved.”

The Development Board had conditions for approval, all of which Catania agreed to. The first was to merge the two land parcels into one — Historic Saranac Lake’s current lot at 89 Church Street with the Trudeau’s home next door at 118 Main Street.

The board said the merging did not have to happen immediately but needed to be done as work on the project progresses.

“We’re proposing a use for two properties,” said board member Bill Domenico. “We’d like to make sure, in the future, you always control those two properties, so that your use and what you’re improving will last.”

Second, the dumpsters needed to be screened by some type of fencing. Third, any signage or lighting changes had to be submitted to village Code Enforcement Officer Paul Blaine. Similarly, any proposed utility changes would require the approval of the board.

There is a utility pole between the two lots that may get in the way of developing of the space, and the board suggested moving the lines underground could be beneficial to full use of the lot. Catania said that may be something HSL will consider in the future.

“The last thing is, you’re eventually going to change parking and access in phase three, and we want that to come back to us,” Board Chair Tom Boothe said. “Other than that, I’m just going to say this is a great project.”

The renovation and five-year hiring estimates for the project are expected to be $1,780,000. Since deciding to move on the project in May 2018, HSL has raised more than $300,000 in cash and pledges from donors.

In December, HSL was granted $500,000 from the state Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. According to the preliminary project list for Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant, HSL is asking for $500,000 in funding. In addition, HSL has applied for a $250,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Catania said the closing date for buying the property is the end of January. The project is expected to create two new museum jobs and five construction jobs.

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