AuSABLE FORKS — The historic Masonic Hall in AuSable Forks hamlet will be turned into a cultural and community hub called Tahawus Lodge Center.

The structure has been purchased by the Appleby Foundation and Rebecca Kelly Ballet.



RESTORATION EYED

Foundation representatives said the three-story building is in need of extensive repair, and the New York City-based group will undertake a capital campaign to raise funds for the $1.2 million renovation.

“The restoration and re-use of this building on Main Street in the business district of AuSable Forks is a clear signal that revitalization efforts are at work,” said Craig Brashear, executive director of the Appleby Foundation and Rebecca Kelly Ballet.

The ballet company headed by Kelly has its summer home in Saranac.

Brashear said it will “create a home for a wide network of organizations, artisans, schools, museums and local businesses, services and entrepreneurs.”

Retail and craft shops will be leased space in the building, which is expected to be ready in 2011.



LOCAL ARCHITECTS

The local architectural team Premises, headed by Bryan Burke and Beverly Eichenlaub, has been selected to design the building renovation. Premises, based in Essex, has a background in design for communities, cultural centers and green technology.

“The Tahawus Lodge Center project is a viable and welcome addition to AuSable Forks, to make it a better place to live and work,” Essex County Empire Zone Coordinator Barbara Brassard said. “This project not only deserves, but demands total support.”

She said the Essex County Empire Zone development plan includes the Town of Jay’s downtown revitalization efforts.

“We totally support and encourage funding of the Tahawus Lodge Center project. This will be a benefit to the economy of the region.”

As an approved community development project within the Essex County Empire Zone, a 25-percent tax credit against state income tax is available for contributions of $500 and up.



PROJECT PRAISED

Jay Town Supervisor Randy Douglas said he has read the project plans.

“Their overall plan for enhancing an anchor building in AuSable Forks will have a significant economic impact on our community,” Douglas said.

“I applaud Rebecca Kelly Ballet for their efforts. I will gladly assist them in obtaining their goals. Their sincere dedication to enhancing new opportunities for our youth is greatly appreciated.”

He said the new cultural and multi-purpose center will serve the community and create jobs, adding to the revitalization movement already under way in the town.

Brassard said she hopes it will stimulate new enterprises throughout the North Country, as well.

When the building was a Masonic Hall, it was known as the Tahawus Lodge, so Brashear and Kelly said they decided to incorporate that into the name of the new center.

The purchase price of the building was not revealed.



E-mail Lohr McKinstry at:

lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com

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