Renovation Considered for 1772 New York Courthouse

By CN Staff

JOHNSTOWN, N.Y.— Fulton County has hired an architecture firm to do a design evaluation for a possible future exterior renovation project at the nearly 250-year-old County Courthouse.

According to an article in the Leader Herald, the Board of Supervisors’ Public Works Committee recently approved a contract not to exceed $25,000 with Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson Architecture & Reservation LLP of Albany, New York.

“We visited the site,” County Superintendent of Highways and Facilities Mark Yost told the committee, and added that he, County Planning Director Scott Henze, and Stephen Reilly, a partner at Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson Architecture & Reservation LLP, came up with a scope of work involving an evaluation of designs.

Yost said he is recommending a contract not to exceed $25,000 for “envelope investigation and reports.” The investigation would include base drawings. Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson Architecture & Reservation LLP would also develop a scope of work and produce bid documents.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said in a statement that the courthouse renovation won’t be extensive, but it must be done right for historic reasons. Architecturally, it is significant as the oldest existing courthouse in New York State

“It’s a lot of minor work, painting, touching up wood.”

Potential renovations include repainting all woodwork, replacing damaged wood and repointing brick mortar.

Fulton County was notified during 2017-18 that it was successful in securing a State and Municipal Facilities Program, or SAMs grant, and would be receiving $100,000 towards exterior renovations to the 1772-circa courthouse.

The scale of the building reflects its late 18th-century date and its frontier setting. The courthouse is a one-and-one half story building three bays wide on the sides, with a one-bay central projecting enclosed entrance porch. The rectangular building has masonry load bearing walls resting on a low stone foundation. The foundations of the one-story entrance porch were added after 1872 and is lower than that of the main block, which was constructed in 1772 or 1773.

Since its construction, the Fulton County Courthouse—which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places—has occupied an important place in New York history. It has served as the judicial seat of Tryon County of Montgomery County, and since 1838 of Fulton County. Its historical prominence comes from its association with Sir William Johnson (1715-1774) and events and persons connected with judicial activities which took place there.

Johnson, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northern Colonies of British America and a Major General of the colonial forces, was an important military figure in the French and Indian War and played an influential role in the early settlement of New York State.