By ALVIN REINER
When Margaret "Maggie" Bartley ran for supervisor last fall, she promised changes in how town business would be conducted.
And she said she would donate her first year's salary to a Benefit Fund for town needs and beautification.
Since then, she has wasted no time in making Town Hall transformations, and others are soon to come.
So far, the Town Clerk's Office has been moved to the front of the building, and a window was installed to provide visibility and to greet patrons.
Bartley's office has been moved down the hall, and one of the stained-glass windows — visible from the outside but not inside the building — has been uncovered there. Her husband, Harry Gough, built a frame around the bottom portion; the top section of the window extends to the second floor.
In addition, Bartley has arranged for the town historian to have an office space within the building — before, the person holding the post worked and stored materials at home.
OLD RUGGED CROSS
The Town Hall cellar had been used for storage, but little could be salvaged, thanks to mice and mildew. A crew from Moriah Shock Incarceration Camp cleared out the refuse — three pickup-truck loads went to the landfill.
One revived treasure was an old candle chandelier, replete with cherubs, found in several pieces imbedded in the dirt floor. "Probably the only people who ventured down there in many years were workers to check the furnace," Bartley said. "While there, I also noticed what appeared to be an organ with pipes but no keyboard."
The "pipes" were actually made of wood.
"I also found an old rugged cross," she said.
She gave it to the Rev. Fred Shaw for Lewis Congregational Church.
"It was quite a sight as he walked it up the street," chuckled Bartley.
SQUARE BELL TOWER
The Town Hall, originally a Baptist church completed during the summer of 1837, was the first house of worship constructed in Elizabethtown.
It has been refurbished several times, most notably in 1896, when it went from its austere beginnings to a more decorative style.
One of the front doors was removed and stained glass added. Of the two initial portals, one was intended for men and the other for women.
The clapboard façade and square bell tower remain today. That distinctive bell tower had been leaking, so Bartley and Public Works workers climbed up and walked on planks to do some caulking as a temporary measure until a more permanent solution can be accomplished.
A simpler project has been converting the walls of the lobby and offices into an art gallery with rotating shows of local artists and subjects.
Bartley also plans to install French doors that were obtained from the Deer's Head Inn 50 years ago.
Still another of the hall's problems that Bartley plans to tackle is records storage, as an upstairs room is lined with bulging shelves from the floor to the ceiling. That, she said, is stressing the building's structural integrity. She hopes to acquire a grant and have whatever is possible converted to computer files as well as survey what is needed.
The hall's long past is something Bartley, a retired high-school history teacher and college English professor, much appreciates. In fact, she has written and created several presentations on local history and architecture.
Jim Bailey, who now lives in Plattsburgh, has many memories of the structure when it was still a Baptist church.
"I was church janitor during my 1949-53 high-school years, and so on winter Sundays, I had to walk down from my house opposite Huttig's Adirondack Auto at about 6 a.m. to start up the wood or coal furnace fire, so that the sanctuary, with its 30-foot ceiling, would be reasonably warm for the 11 a.m. service, he said.
"It's hard to visualize the openness of the church now with all the partitions.
"A trap door in the floor opened down into the baptistry's tank," he said. "I remember having to heat the water for a few baptismal ceremonies. That took days, since the hot-water heater out in the kitchen had a very small capacity. Obviously, we only had baptism services in the warmer months.
In 1957, the Baptists joined with the United Church of Christ to hold services in what is known as the Old Stone Church. The Baptist church was purchased and then donated to the town by the Ed Lee and Mary Jean Campe Foundation in 1964. The Campes, summer residents and generous benefactors to Elizabethtown, also paid for the building's remodeling.
Other future projects for the Town Hall include having volunteers spruce up the grounds, including new plantings in the area honoring Betty Brien, a former supervisor who lost a valiant struggle with cancer.
The front step also needs to be replaced.
"So far, the town has spent $3,000 from the Benefit Fund for "needed equipment and tools to do our job," Bartley said.
"I also purchased fire alarms and a clock.
"The town paid for the window on the Clerk's Office. It's a team effort," she said.
Improving the Town Hall has been fun, the supervisor said.
"It's an enjoyable part of the job. Perhaps it's because I'm a woman that I want to fix things up. I think the workers (clerks) are very happy with the changes."