OLD CHATHAM — The Shaker Museum purchased the empty building at 5 Austerlitz St. in Chatham, recently, and received a $1,569,000 grant from Empire State Development through New York State’s Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) initiative to support a project that will transform the building into a museum and community cultural center.
The grant, which will support construction and soft costs like architect’s fees, was the largest award to a Columbia County organization in 2019. The Shaker Museum has previously received three REDC grants from the New York State Council on the Arts to support programming at the Mount Lebanon historic Shaker site.
“The purchase of the building in Chatham and the support of New York State represent a significant step forward in the Shaker Museum’s efforts to fulfill its strategic plan to make its collection accessible to the public and to establish the museum as a regional resource and destination,” said the museum’s Executive Director Lacy Schutz.
Located at 5 Austerlitz Street, the building was owned by the Wood family of MetzWood Insurance. The Shaker Museum purchased the building after two years of intensive exploration into its viability as a museum and cultural center, including structural, geotechnical, and environmental testing. It worked with Gensler, an international architecture, design, and planning firm, on test fits and preliminary space planning. Though the building has been empty for many years, it has a rich history and has served Chatham and the surrounding community over the last century as a sanitarium, hotel, knitting factory, car dealership, and furniture store.
The Shaker Museum’s collection of Shaker items is the most comprehensive collection of its kind in the world. Its administrative offices, collections storage, library, and archives are located in Old Chatham and open year-round by appointment. The museum also stewards the historic Shaker site in New Lebanon, which is open year-round for hiking and self-guided tours. Visit shakerml.org for more information, to explore the collection online, and to find out about programming in 2020.