Press-Republican

Local News

July 17, 2009

Estes House will become Visitors Interpretive Center

Estes House will become Visitors Interpretive Center

(Continued)

It will be part of a series of centers that are being developed along the Lakes to Locks passage, a byway that connects what Papson calls "the waterways to freedom": the Hudson River, Champlain Canal, Lake George and Lake Champlain.

"The executive director of Lakes to Locks, Janet Kennedy, was aware that the Town of Chesterfield wanted to develop an interpretive center and that our association needed a place," Papson said.

The Ausable Chasm Corp. offered help, agreeing to turn ownership of the Estes house over to the Town of Chesterfield.

"It's a win, win situation," Papson said. "People who already come to the chasm will have another place to visit while there, and people who come to learn about it (the Underground Railroad) will also be able to go to the chasm. The tourist commission and location will be ideal."

WORTHWHILE EFFORT

Morrow had to work out kinks with liens, grants, two banks and other issues to make the deal happen.

After some person-to-person communication, the tides began to change.

"It's finally cleared up and now that we have the house lien-free, we are going to start the process of renovations and hopefully open for business next summer, when the Chasm opens in June," Morrow said.

Renovation plans include asbestos removal, handicapped accessibility and a more efficient heating system, he said.

"We're going to keep as much of the history there as we can.

"Tourists coming through the area will be stopping in there. I'm always looking at trying to help out the sales tax, to take (the burden) off the property tax. If nothing else, it'll help; everything helps."

ENLIGHTENMENT

Morrow said he has learned more about his region's history during the process.

"I wasn't that aware of what the Underground Railroad did until this project, but now I am much more interested.

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