QUEENSBURY Warren County leaders and citizens gathered Friday Oct. 18 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Warren County Municipal Center, recognized nationally for its suburban-style campus ambiance when it was built in 1963.
Festive balloons were launched, tours of the complex were conducted, and people gathered to share not only a birthday cake but memories — including those who were active in local government a half-century ago.
Treated as a guest of honor was former state Assemblyman, judge and attorney Richard Bartlett, now 87, who had been one of the luminaries presiding over the dedication ceremonies for the Municipal Center 50 years ago.
In the era the county Municipal Center was built, Bartlett was chosen to serve as the state’s first Chief Administrative Judge. Despite his duties around the state, Bartlett kept his chambers in the county Municipal Center, he said soon after cutting the celebratory cake Friday with county Board of Supervisors Chairman Kevin Geraghty, longtime Chestertown notable Marjorie Swan and Queensbury councilman John Strough.
In 1963, the new Municipal Center was not just a showplace, it was very functional, Bartlett said. “The county departments and agencies had been scattered all over the place, but after the center was built, they were now in one place.”
Before 1963, the county courts and jail were in Lake George, the family court was in Glens Falls, and the welfare offices were in Warrensburg, he recalled. “The center was visually pleasing, and it brought a sense of unity to county government.”
The idea to build the center had its detractors, Bartlett recalled, including opposition spokesman, Fred Bascom, a prominent Glens Falls lawyer.
“It was strongly contested at the time as an unnecessary expenditure,” Bartlett said. According to vintage news reports, county leaders had proposed to tear down the old county courthouse in Lake George and build a larger, taller structure on the site — but doing so would have cost $500,000 more than constructing a new county center on its undeveloped exurban site.