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Museum and Friends to create Cultural Heritage Center

Wednesday, March 05, 2014 - Updated: 5:22 AM


C-S-E Editor

FORT PLAIN -- The Fort Plain Museum and the Friends of Fort Plain will join forces in the development of a downtown Cultural Heritage Center, with a focus on the area's canal-era history, at 47 Main St., Diefendorf Hall.

Several exhibits are planned for the space, including the reassembling of the  facade of the Fort Plain Erie Canal era Fineour Store inside Diefendorf Hall, which will also accommodate community events, meetings and social gatherings.

In creating the Cultural Heritage Center, the Fort Plain Museum will establish a presence downtown in showcasing the village's 19th Century heritage, and the FOFP will gain support for shared grant funding opportunities.

“We are very excited about this new cooperative venture”, said Norm Bollen, president of the FPM Board of Trustees, continuing, “This is a win-win plan”, as both organizations stand to benefit.

The reassembling of the store's facade has been a long time goal for both entities. Originally disassembled over the course of June and July of 1988, the canal store -- originally erected in the mid 19th century -- was scheduled to be rebuilt in the New York State Museum's restoration exhibit.

Plans to reconstruct the store in the museum fell through, and it has since been kept in the museum's storage facility in Rotterdam. Catalogued in the facility, recently viewed by FOFP and museum members, is the structure's original portico columns -- constructed as part of a two story porch -- windows, doors and a staircase that used to connect the building's first and second levels.

The large building, originally located in Fort Plain at Lock 32, also contained private quarters and a guest area. Prior to being disassembled, drawings and photos documented the location's entire historic structure, including the facade, portico, exterior trim, and woodwork including fireplaces and mantles, doors and window frames -- some of those pieces dating as far back as 1850.

The building is one of the oldest Erie Canal associated buildings to be salvaged in the area.

The FOFP and Fort Plain Museum are currently waiting on word from the NYS Museum if the property can be transferred back to Fort Plain, bringing to life the long-standing dream of erecting the former store at Diefendorf Hall.


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