GRANVILLE — In the same footprint as the old handicapped ramp at Granville’s Pember Library and Museum sits a newly constructed 34-foot-tall marble building, housing the museum’s newly installed elevator.

Slated for an official opening ceremony later this month, the $721,000 elevator addition is getting the final touches, like extensive vacuuming of the elevator and shaft, before final inspection by local zoning officials and elevator inspectors next week.

“We have invited Sen. Betty Little to take the first ride up,” said Pember board of trustees member Robert Tatko, who oversaw the entire expansion project, often working eight- or nine-hour days on site.

Adding an elevator to the Pember was a requirement for bringing the circa-1909 building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. But because the museum’s charter stipulates that nothing can be changed or moved within the museum, an entire building was constructed to house the elevator and a second staircase.

“It is now ADA-compliant,” said Tatko, pointing out the 5-foot door opening during a tour of the building last week during February First Friday. “It holds 2,100 pounds and will allow infirm people and people with strollers to get up and down to see the museum. It is opening doors for so many others.”

Wanting to preserve the historic appearance of the building’s exterior, trustees set out to match the new structure to the original marble building as much as possible.

“Our main intent was to preserve the historical depth throughout the addition,” Tatko said. “About 70 percent of the marble came from a Danby (Vermont) quarry. The original marble came from the same quarry,” Tatko said. “We tried to match it as closely as possible.”

It’s been five years since the new Pember Library and Museum board of trustees took over in 2014, following months of state scrutiny of the Pember’s financial practices.

Since that time, Tatko said the new Pember leadership has worked hard to turn things around. The addition’s completion is a working example of their efforts, he said.

“There was a lot of communication, collaboration and cooperation,” said Tatko. “It was the combination of a lot of people doing great, great work.”

At the beginning of the project, the Pember had $160,000 toward the addition and it took a lot of fundraising, grant writing, personal donations, a New York state grant and foundation money to meet their funding goal.

“We have no debt,” said Tatko. “The total project was $721,000 and we raised $723,000.”

Tatko said the building architect was SD Atelier Architects of Saratoga Springs and the structural engineer was Shoder Rivers Engineers of Queensbury. The stone anchoring engineer was JKI Engineers of Bedford, Indiana. Bast Hatfield LLC, of Clifton Park, was general contractor.

In celebration of this community undertaking, the Pember’s February First Friday event was dedicated to all things elevator and tours of the new building. Complete with the physics behind moving objects and eventually people, the exhibit, the “Art of the Elevator,” offered a fun and comprehensive interactive look at elevators past and present, as well as futuristic elevators already installed in European cities, with one planned in the near future for the U.S.

“We began with the history of the elevator,” said Gisele Zeitler, a Middle Granville resident who designed and created the museum exhibit as an adviser to the board. “The first real documented use of the modern elevator was a contraption Louis XV (of France) used to allow his mistresses to come up.”

To interest younger visitors, Zeitler built a Lego reproduction of the Pember with the new addition and a wooden replica of an early elevator design.

She said what really revolutionized the elevator was the Otis Elevator Safety Device that kept elevators from falling many floors if the elevator ropes broke.

“It allowed people to feel safe,” she said.

The “Art of the Elevator” exhibit will remain in the library for the rest of February.

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Kathleen Phalen-Tomaselli covers Washington County government and other county news and events.


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