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Dual use of historic courthouse decried, citizen offers solution

Lake George Historical Association President Alex Parrott talks Aug. 9 about how dual use of the Old County Courthouse — now utilized as a museum — would put artifacts at risk and compromise the mission of the museum. The Lake George Town Board has recently proposed to use the building as an active courthouse for overflow state Supreme Court proceedings.

Lake George Historical Association President Alex Parrott talks Aug. 9 about how dual use of the Old County Courthouse — now utilized as a museum — would put artifacts at risk and compromise the mission of the museum. The Lake George Town Board has recently proposed to use the building as an active courthouse for overflow state Supreme Court proceedings. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Four days earlier, citizen activist Joanne Gavin implored the town board— with tears in her eyes — to abandon their plan to hold state Supreme Court proceedings in the Old County Courthouse, now used as a local history museum. The proposal had prompted impassioned pleas from the Lake George Historical Association members worried about the fate of their artifacts and how sharing the building would curtail their museum operations.

But at a town meeting Monday Aug. 13, however, Gavin proposed a solution to the board with a cheery voice and dry eyes.

Why not use the Lake George Senior Center, a municipal building with plenty of space and an open schedule, for the Supreme Court’s overflow cases, she asked.

The Senior Center already features a handicapped rest room and an entrance ramp, which would have to be constructed to use the historic courthouse — and such changes to the antique building would compromise its character, she noted.

The town could lease out the space at its Senior Center, and use the revenue to make repairs to the Old Courthouse — a primary reason the town board members have cited for the dual use of the historic brick courthouse on Amherst and Canada streets.

To sweeten the deal, Gavin said that if the town established a site for court other than the historic courthouse, she’d donate to the some furniture that would be appropriate and significant to the court — a judge’s desk and chair that belonged to long-time local Justice Ralph Brynes, her father-in-law.

Pam Parrott, a member of the Historical Association, reacted to Gavin’s offer with a look of shock.

“This is an amazing idea,” she said. Board members said they’d give it consideration.

At the special meeting held Thursday Sept. 9, a half-dozen or so Historical Association members voiced strong objections of the old courthouse’s dual use.

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