GLENS FALLS -- The massive hole in front of the Cronin High Rise in downtown Glens Falls isn't for a swimming pool or to replace some pipes.
They're digging out the remains of an old building that was buried there. It was causing the lawn to collapse.
"We had a lot of erosion and settling," said Robert Landry, of the Glens Falls Housing Authority. That agency runs the senior high-rise on Ridge Street.
"It was creating sinkholes, and it made it difficult to maintain the lawn. The flagpole was even starting to lean."
Landry said the city hired an engineer to do a soil test, and it was determined a previous demolition at the site had become unstable, causing the sinking lawn. Services Unlimited was hired to excavate the site, remove the debris of the old building, fill it back in with clean fill and re-tamp the surface.
"We'll have a new lawn and new landscaping," Landry said. "Our goal is to be the nicest looking property in downtown Glens Falls."
He said the excavation work should be complete by mid-August, and the lawn and landscaping should be done by Sept. 1. The project carries a price tag of about $50,000, which was covered by a Capital Fund grant covering infrastructure improvements.
But just what is it they are digging up? City Historian Wayne Wright said the structure was the home of Dr. George W. Little.
"Dr. Little had a conservatory on the right side of the house where he kept monkeys, birds and all sorts of plant life," Wright said. "After he closed his practice, he handed out little spoons to the people who were still with him. Some of those spoons are still around."
Little was eccentric, and his wife moved out of the house in his later years to settle in the Fort Edward area.
"There was a one-story addition built onto the front of the house for a storefront," Wright said. "The structure came down during Urban Renewal in the early 1970s, and they just bulldozed it under."
Landry recalls a pool hall at the spot in the ‘70s.
"It was the Chalk and Cue Pool Hall, and it was a popular hangout for St. Mary's students, and since I was one of them, I used to hang out there," he said. "Van the Shoe Man and Griffin's Paint Store were also in this area."
During the excavation, workers found lots of construction debris, but not much else.
"I'm seeing mostly bricks and columns that supported the building, but nothing too exciting," said Todd Clomb of Services Unlimited. "I was hoping we might find something interesting, but not yet."
This story was corrected at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. The name of Griffin's Paint Store was incorrect in the initial posting.