The Goodwill Theatre spruces up JC Firehouse with funds from Regional Council

By WBNG News

The Goodwill Theatre spruces up JC Firehouse with funds from Regional Council

November 5, 2013 Updated Nov 5, 2013 at 5:53 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) Goodwill Theatre Inc. is getting a head start on masonry repairs of the historic former Municipal Building and Central Fire station building where the Schorr Family Firehouse Stage is now located. This work is being funded by a grant awarded last year by the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council (STREDC) through the Office of Community Renewal under direction of the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation’s Rural Area Revitalization Project (RARP) program.

According to a news release:

Goodwill Theatre was awarded $200,000 to restore the exterior brick masonry of the walls of the 1899 Romanesque Firehouse building.  The Firehouse was built originally as the municipal center of the Village of Lestershire. It was built by Sullivan and Badgley with partial funding by the Lestershire Boot Company, the predecessor of Endicott Johnson. It housed the Mayor’s offices, a court room, fire wagons and firefighter sleeping quarters. Firefighters exercised in the large third floor which was also used for Community sing-a-longs, Civil defense drills, dances and other community events. There is an antique vault in the basement and 3 bowling lanes.  The building is one of the NYS Susquehanna Heritage Area Resources.

“In 2011 we were able to replace the roof of the Firehouse building. Restoring the brick walls is our next priority.” says Goodwill Theatre Inc. CEO Naima Kradjian “We discovered some safety issues in the upper walls when we replaced the roof that have a high priority so these areas are getting attention before winter sets in. The remaining work will be finished in early spring 2014.This masonry repair will make it much more attractive, bringing it back to its former glory. We believe it will instill pride, help to eliminate blight and inspire ancillary investment,” adds Kradjian.

The purpose of the RARP program is to provide financial and technical resources to New York communities for the restoration and improvement of housing, commercial areas and public/community facilities in rural areas of the state, having a population of less than 25,000, by providing grants to not-for-profit community based organizations and charitable organizations that have a direct interest in improving the health, safety and economic viability of a rural area or other aspects of the area environment that are related to community preservation or renewal activities.

Applicants may request funds to undertake housing preservation and community renewal activities in distressed rural areas by preserving existing housing units, generating new housing units, upgrading commercial and retail areas and by creating innovative approaches to neighborhood and community revitalization which improve cultural and community facilities.

An eligible area for Rural Area Revitalization Projects shall mean a city, town or village: (a) that has experienced sustained physical deterioration, decay, neglect, or disinvestment; (b) has a number of substandard buildings or vacant residential or commercial units; and (c) in which more than fifty percent of the residents are persons whose incomes do not exceed ninety percent of the area median income for the county or metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in which the project is located, or which is designated by a state or federal agency to be eligible for a community or economic development program.

Goodwill Theatre is seeking the required matching funds for this grant award so that the work can be completed in the early spring when the weather will permit work to progress more quickly. The Firehouse Building will eventually house the Schorr Family Firehouse Stage, dressing rooms, offices and two large two-story rehearsal rooms for the Goodwill Theatre Performing Arts Complex, one of which will also serve as a BLACK BOX theatre venue. Work is expected to continue all week.