Fundraiser set to help replace museum furnace

Historic Saranac Lake announced a public campaign to raise funds to replace the failing furnace at the Saranac Laboratory Museum. The campaign seeks to raise at least $13,000 for the new furnace, which must be installed this fall.

Executive Director Amy Catania explained that the boiler dates from 1950 and is threatening to break down completely. Three times last winter the current old heating system turned off unexpectedly, putting the building at risk. The old boiler inefficiently burned 2,250 gallons of oil, resulting in bills totaling $9,000. A new system is expected to use about one-third less fuel.

Several leading gifts have already totaled up to about $5,000.

“Now we are taking the campaign to the streets,” said Board President, Priscilla Goss.

The organization will be staffing tables at a few locations in the Village in August.

“We are counting on donations of any size from individuals in the community who care about our history and the work of Historic Saranac Lake,” said Goss.

Anyone who donates will get a window decal, and HSL t-shirts and license plate frames will be for sale. Local businesses that are supporting the project will be recognized at the tables.

The total cost of the project is $26,000. Historic Saranac Lake has applied for a matching grant from the New York State Council on the Arts for the project but faces the need to raise at least $13,000, more if the grant is declined.

The organization invested in an engineer’s study of the project by North Woods Engineering, a requirement of the state matching grant, and received bids on the project, in order to begin work this fall before the snow falls. HSL researched alternative forms of fuel, such as pellet systems and geothermal.

“The technology for a installing an alternative fuel system for a building of our size isn’t there yet” said Catania. “We settled on a new oil-burning furnace, which will be much more energy efficient than what we have now, and it will keep the building safe for many years to come.”

Built in 1894, The Saranac Laboratory was the first lab built in the U.S. for the research of tuberculosis. Historic Saranac Lake painstakingly restored the building and opened it as a museum in 2009. The museum is open with exhibits on the history of Saranac Lake, scientific research and patient care.

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