The League’s headquarters at 44 Central Avenue in Albany is located at a prominent intersection once known as Robison’s Point. When it was built, it was on the western fringe of the city, but is now situated in a very active, urban environment on Central Avenue. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in February 2014, the building is a rare example of early commercial architecture in Albany, and retains a fairly high degree of integrity inside and out.
Constructed ca. 1817 as a commercial and retail site for processing grains into flour and feed, it continued in that capacity until 1941. For most of that time it was operated by John H. Peters and his sons and it continues to contain many pieces of equipment from its role as a granary including grain scoops, grinders, buckets, tools and a giant hoist wheel in the attic measuring eleven and a half feet in diameter.
Despite any number of improvements and repairs however, the building is beginning to show some wear and tear from almost 200 years of continuous occupation.
Earlier this year, experienced volunteers conducted a general assessment of the building to determine structural and other issues needing to be addressed. This has led to a contract with the engineering firm Ryan Biggs Clark Davis for a structural study that should be completed by August.
Earlier this month Chad Reinemann, Senior Engineer for the firm, spent the day in the building inspecting the structure, including the use of a resistance drill. This tool measures the resistance offered by a wood framing member as a thin needle drill is passed through it. The output appears as a graph of resistance versus drill depth. This test lets you “see” weaknesses inside the wood or, in our case, a void behind a framing member and the brick masonry of the wall.
Of course, this is just the investigation stage of our work, and data we gather will be used to inform the creation of a repair and restoration plan for the building. Then we have to figure out how to get it done! We'll keep you informed as we move forward with the stewardship of our two-centuries-old headquarters!