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LeRoy Heritage Museum is set to begin the next major phase of renovation at the historic 1896 hotel where the organization is working to create an expanded regional museum highlighting southwestern Bradford County.

This phase of the project will include several upgrades necessary to convert the building from a residence into a commercial building. Some of the work will also focus on preserving the building’s deteriorated architectural elements.

Work begins with partial reconstruction of a rear two-story porch to provide a handicapped entrance on the first floor and a fire escape on the second floor. The handicapped entrance will see new decking to an existing porch, installation of a handicapped ramp, and installation of a handicapped-accessible entrance door. The first-floor section of the porch will be finished by replacing missing siding, trim, a bead board ceiling and railings.

The second floor of the rear porch will have old decking and rubber roofing removed, followed by new rubber roofing, decking, railings; installation of a fire escape door for the ball room; installation of steps, landing, and railing from the ball room door to the second floor deck; along with other minor details.

Another part of the project will involve the construction of a fire escape bridge from the second-floor porch to the hillside at the back of the building. Due to obstacles that would prevent a normal fire escape stairway to the ground, the museum chose to install a fire escape in the form of a bridge that can also be used to load museum items into the second floor without the necessity of installing a much more expensive elevator. The fire escape is required in order to make the historic second floor ballroom available for public use.

A lift will be brought in as part of the project in order to access the third story shingled gable ends, where repair and replacement of wooden shingles will be done as necessary. In some cases, there are missing shingles, others are loose, and still others were replaced in the past with the wrong style of shingle. This part of the project is intended to repair all of the problem areas so that the building can be repainted in the future.

On the west side of the first floor, facing the driveway, three windows will be removed and siding will be redone to cover over these areas. These windows were not original to the building and are being removed both to provide more wall space for display in the main exhibit room and to cut back on the amount of UV light that would enter the room from the afternoon sun. Any other repairs needed to the siding around the building will also be done.

Funding for this phase of the project is provided by a grant from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program (Heritage Areas Program) under the administration of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation. This program is administered locally by the Endless Mountains Heritage Region. The required match for this grant is being provided by the many donations received for the project since it began in 2015. Additional funds are being provided by proceeds of last year’s Barclay Mountain Heritage Day.

Since this project requires prevailing wage, the scope of the work was altered and parts of the project that the museum had hoped to do, amounting to an additional $70,000, had to be delayed. These were reconstruction of the front entrance porch to replace rotted materials and bring it up to current building codes. This would also move the entrance steps from the front of the porch to the side of the porch to move them away from the highway. Also delayed was reconstruction of a side porch to create a code-compliant fire escape and loading area for the main exhibit room. Finally, the concrete sidewalks required for access to the main entrance and handicapped entrance were delayed.

The LeRoy Heritage Museum has previously completed all of the demolition work that could be done with volunteer labor and has hired contractors to complete other work. These projects are the conversion of a first floor apartment back into one large room, removing flooring and installing a new plywood subfloor throughout the first floor of the building, building a handicapped restroom and making alterations to the plumbing to accommodate these changes, making alterations to the electrical system, installing a new heating and cooling system for the first floor museum area that works in conjunction with the existing system for the remainder of the building, and many other miscellaneous changes inside the building along with landscaping cleanup outside of the building.

In addition to finishing exterior projects that were delayed, the museum will need to finish some electrical, drywall and plaster repairs and finishing, hardwood flooring throughout the first floor, repairs to the original woodwork in specific areas, and a heating/cooling system in the ballroom.

When it is complete, the building will house a much larger museum than the current Mill Street location in LeRoy. The new museum will tell the story of southwestern Bradford County as a whole, including the Canton area, Granville area, LeRoy area, and the history of the coal and lumber towns on Barclay Mountain. The historic building was built by local lumbermen, the Lewis Brothers, with lumber sawed on the mountain from around Sunfish Pond. The Laquin Lumber Company sawmill was also built with lumber sawed by the Lewis Brothers.

The museum is still raising funds for the project and any funds above and beyond normal operating expenses are going toward the renovation. The cost to finish the project is $170,000 total but as in the past, the museum completes a phase of the project at a time when the funds become available. Never has the museum gone into debt to complete any building project it has done. With that said, donations to the project in any amount are vitally important because they allow the organization to build up a match that can be used to apply for grant funding.

The museum offers various campaign categories with different levels of permanent acknowledgment inside the finished museum such as: Platinum, $10,000 and above; Gold, $5,000 through $9,999; Silver, $1,000 through $4,999; Bronze, $500 through $999. All donations made specifically to the building fund, no matter the amount, are acknowledged inside the museum’s semi-annual magazine, The Monogram. Any contributions received now will help the museum complete more of the work that was delayed as a part of the current construction project. Gifts may be made in honor or in memory of an ancestor, immediate family member, friend, school teacher, or other person that the donor wishes to be recognized.

Donations to the project may be made online at www.leroyheritage.org/building-fund-donations or by mail at the following address: 10097 Route 414, Canton, PA 17724. More information about the project, including history, building plans, videos and more can be found by clicking on the Expansion Project page on the website. LeRoy Heritage Museum is a 501c3 non-profit organization promoting local history preservation and education in southwestern Bradford County. Donations are tax-deductible as permitted by the current tax code.