Jim Major, lead partner of JASAMA LLC, stands in one of the North Country Community College dorm rooms in Ticonderoga. The rooms are in the Huestis Building, which has received a Stewardship Award from Adirondack Architectural Heritage.
An award-winning building renovation project in Ticonderoga could be a major step in the community’s economic revitalization.
The reconstruction of the Huestis Building on Montcalm Street has been completed. The structure now houses Libby’s Bakery on the first floor with housing for 16 North Country Community College Ti campus students upstairs.
“We did our best to keep the feel of the 1800s,” said Jim Major, lead partner of JASAMA LLC, the Ti firm that owns the building. “The building was completely gutted. Steel supports were installed. There’s a new roof, new wiring, new plumbing — everything is new.”
The exterior has been restored to look as it did when constructed in 1874.
JASAMA has received a Stewardship Award from Adirondack Architectural Heritage for its efforts. Adirondack Architectural Heritage is a non-profit historic preservation organization for New York State’s Adirondack Park. AARCH was formed in 1990 with a mission to promote better public understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Adirondacks unique and diverse architectural heritage.
“This building was a labor of love,” Major said. “I love architecture of the 1800s, the Italianate-style. It was a lot of work and cost a lot of money, but I feel it’s well worth it.”
Major declined to say how much the project cost.
Sharon Reynolds, executive director of PRIDE of Ticonderoga, nominated the Huestis Building for the Stewardship Award.
“PRIDE has been interested in the Huestis Building as well as all the historic properties in Ticonderoga to do all we can to restore and preserve these important structures,” Reynolds said. “When Jim purchased the building in 2011 PRIDE was able to assist him with a New York Main Street grant of $45,000 which he matched with his own funds to begin the rehabilitation process. Watching the special care Jim took to preserve the integrity of the Huestis Building and seeking the expertise of others is testimony to his love of architecture.
“The AARCH award is very competitive and PRIDE considers all restoration projects for submission,” she said, “but the Huestis Building was clearly an outstanding example of an owner’s commitment to the importance of preserving our history and an owner’s investment in the revitalization of Ticonderoga.”
The building was constructed in 1874 by J. Wiley, a Ticonderoga merchant, Reynolds noted. The 19th century, two-story, clapboard, Italianate structure is sandwiched between a turn-of-the-century brick commercial building and a 1960s concrete block edifice. It is one of only six remaining wood frame Italianate-style commercial buildings in the Montcalm Street commercial district.
Libby’s Bakery opened in the building this past June. The building welcomed its first North Country Community College students recently, marking the first time NCCC Ti campus students have been housed in the community.
Though not a traditional dormitory, the upstairs is rented to NCCC students through an agreement with the college. There are two units, each accommodating eight students. Each furnished unit contains four bedrooms, a kitchen, living space and bathrooms.
JASAMA has a contract to provided NCCC with rooms for 100 students in the next five years. Major hopes to add a building a year to meet that goal.
“Our goal is to affect change,” Major said. “We believe one of the best ways to do that is through the school (NCCC). We hope to impact the character of downtown and develop business. If we have 100 beds downtown those students will need services. Businesses will develop to support them.”
If a proposed NCCC technology school become reality, it could mean another 300-400 students coming to Ticonderoga.
“That would be a tremendous boost for Ticonderoga,” Major said.
Major credits Dr. Steve Tyrrell, NCCC president, with taking an interest in both the Ticonderoga community and Ti campus.
“We’ve had great cooperation from the college,” Major said. “The president has been to Ti more times than all the other presidents combined. He (Tyrrell) sees the tremendous potential for both the college and the community.”
As part of JASAMA’s commitment to Ticonderoga, the Huestis Building project used local labor and supplies. Even the furnishings were purchased in Ticonderoga.
“Sometimes the people in Ticonderoga forget all the offerings here,” Major said. “Everything we needed for this project was found right here in Ti.”
Travis Whitford was the general contractor for the project.
The Huestis Building renovation is JASAMA’s second completed project in Ticonderoga. In 2010 it restored another Montcalm Street building that now houses Two Brother Meat Market. PRIDE assisted with the project by securing a $40,000 grant.