Oct 21, 2022
Reimagine the Canals Project Includes Preservation and Rehabilitation of Historic Manor House and Creation of New Community Gathering Space
Partnership with Erie Canal Museum to Highlight History of Canal and Historic Mohawk Valley
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) and New York State Canal Corporation today announced the commencement of construction of the Guy Park Manor Environmental Education and Resiliency Park, a project that will restore the historic manor along the Erie Canal and Mohawk River in the City of Amsterdam, Montgomery County, and create a new educational facility and community gathering space. This project, through the Reimagine the Canals initiative, underscores NYPA's commitment to environmental justice, sustainability and innovation with a focus on revitalizing historic canal landmarks to create new community assets.
“For nearly two centuries, the Erie Canal has connected people and commerce across the Empire State, and as the stewards of this iconic waterway, the New York Power Authority and Canal Corporation are committed to ensuring the preservation of its historic sites,” said New York Power Authority Interim President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll. “By investing in the rehabilitation of Guy Park Manor, we are investing in environmental education, community building, and the revitalization of canalside communities for generations to come.”
Guy Park Manor, a structure listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is located along the Erie Canal and Mohawk River at Lock E-11. Severely damaged by flooding during Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, the preservation, rehabilitation, and reactivation of this site will be completed in two main phases.
The first phase includes the preservation and rehabilitation of the manor house and interventions that will ensure the building is more resilient against future weather events.
These improvements include raising the building 3.6 feet to place the first floor 7 feet above the 100-year flood elevation, pouring a new reinforced concrete foundation and installing flood vents in the basement walls to allow water to enter and exit the lower level of the structure. Other exterior work includes reconstruction and repairs to the masonry façade, installation of a new slate roof, rebuilding of the west chimneys, and restoration of the windows and doors. In addition, the south porch will be reconstructed to include an accessible wheelchair lift.
The interior of the structure will be finished to incorporate new exhibits developed in partnership with the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse and multipurpose rooms available for community use. New heating and cooling systems, electrical, plumbing, and fire and security protection will be installed. Interior work also will include asbestos abatement and the restoration of the fireplaces, staircases, wood flooring and trim.
The second phase of work will focus on the creation of an educational landscape and demonstration gardens that will support public park and recreational programs for the Amsterdam community and visitors, including those traveling on the Erie Canal and Empire State Trail. The new park design includes the installation of landscaped earthen berms that will assist in protecting the manor house and property from weather events while creating a welcoming area for visitors of all ages and abilities.
The park will incorporate opportunities for interaction and playful engagement with water, ecosystems, and native landscape habitats. It also will offer an outdoor pavilion to support group activities and events. Public safety improvements and the addition of a staircase on the southside will allow the movable dam to function as a walkway connecting the 12-acre park on the northside to the Empire State Trail on the southside of the canal and river. A new fishing platform and a new kayak launch will offer accessible and safe public access to the water.
Congressman Paul D. Tonko said, “For nearly 200 years, the Erie Canal has served as a crucial connector for communities across our Capital Region and all of New York State. As a longtime advocate for the preservation of our historic canalway and for heritage tourism, I'm thrilled to celebrate the rehabilitation of one of the Mohawk Valley's most significant landmarks, Guy Park Manor. Investments in the cultural and economic assets that strengthen our region are critical in our efforts to revitalize our canalside communities. I'm confident that this project will lead to new, exciting, and accessible educational and recreational opportunities for the City of Amsterdam and for our entire Capital Region.”
New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, “Guy Park Manor is a landmark in the Mohawk Valley and this project preserves a magnificent structure while creating a new educational gathering space that will be a destination for residents and travelers along the Erie Canal and those visiting the Mohawk Valley. We know our canalside communities have so much to offer and this project, through our Reimagine the Canals initiative, is part of a larger strategy to stimulate local economic revitalization through tourism and outdoor recreation.”
Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said,“Historic preservation seeks to celebrate and save significant elements of the past while planning for a resilient and sustainable future. Communities are increasingly having to plan for and respond to risks – and the rehabilitation of Guy Park Manor is an admirable example of incorporating protective measures designed to withstand future storms while also maintaining the historic integrity of a locally significant site. I applaud the Reimagine the Canals initiative for recognizing and investing in the important, and sometimes vulnerable, historic fabric of New York State.”
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara said, “The Guy Park Manor Environmental Education and Resiliency Park will bring this historical landmark in Amsterdam back to life after sustaining heavy damage by Hurricane Irene in 2011. Many community members were devastated to see this prominent site shuttered more than a decade ago, but this restoration project will reopen Guy Park Manor and bring it back better than ever.”
Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort said, “This is great news for the city of Amsterdam, and we always welcome projects which help maintain a piece of our community's history. I look forward to Guy Park Manor being restored into a viable space once again.”
City of Amsterdam Mayor Michael Cinquanti said, “In two short years, the historic Guy Park Manor will turn 250 years old. This welcome investment on the part of the New York Power Authority and Canal Corporation, will assure that our city's most treasured landmark from the colonial era will celebrate that birthday in pristine condition and serve as the functioning centerpiece of a unique and educational canalside experience.
Managed by the New York Power Authority and Canal Corporation, the rehabilitation of the manor house was designed by Synthesis Architects, LLP of Schenectady. Work on the building will be completed by VMJR Companies of Glens Falls. The community environmental education park and amenities were designed by WRT Design of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. These contracts were awarded after a competitive procurement process.
Through the Reimagine the Canals initiative, the New York Power Authority committed $300 million to revitalize the Erie Canal corridor as a tourism and recreation destination while simultaneously boosting economic development and improving the resiliency of canalside communities.