The HSCPA Story
When it became apparent in 2001 that Washington County was going to vacate the Old Washington County Courthouse in Salem, William Eberle, a retired attorney, spearheaded a group of citizens to take action and make the courthouse a community center. Concerned citizens met with John G. Waite, a renowned preservation architect, who made a presentation about other restoration projects and arranged for the group to visit some recently restored buildings. Meetings were then held on a regular basis and Bill put in motion the chartering of a not-for-profit with the Education Department of New York State.
In January 2002 the Historic Salem Courthouse Preservation Association, Inc. (HSCPA) officially became a corporation and the first Board of Directors was elected. They selected Bill to be the first president of HSCPA.
An InfoFest, held in March, demonstrated that approximately 500 had an interest in making this grand old building a center which would serve the community. The Info Fest also gave community members an opportunity to offer input about the future of the courthouse complex. Shortly after, a charrette or planning debate involving many preservation professionals and local contractors, determined that this was a feasible project.
A mission of the corporation, facilitating the transfer of the courthouse complex to a Salem entity, was carried out with HSCPA negotiating with county officials. In July 2003 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Washington County, Town of Salem, Village of Salem and HSCPA. This agreement made it possible for HSCPA to move into the complex and hold its first Al Fresco Dinner in August. By the end of the year a partnership was finalized with the Town, Village, and HSCPA with the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement. The Town became the owner of the property on January 1, 2004 with management by HSCPA. The Village continued in a supportive role. To date the courthouse project has received no funding from Salem taxpayers.
HSCPA has been awarded numerous grants to underwrite the expense of restoring the courthouse for community service. Grants have been awarded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, NYS Council on the Arts, Preservation League of NYS, and an Environmental Profection fund grant awarded by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Until mid -2007 HSCPA was totally staffed by volunteers. It became evident that HSCPA programs had grown to the point that paid staff was needed. A Program Coordinator/ Administrative Assistant was hired and an Executive Director came on board in June 2008. Programs and staffing have been made possible by the generous donations of HSCPA supporters.
The public is welcomed to attend HSCPA board meetings held at the courthouse on the 3rd Tuesday at 7 p.m. Call the courthouse for more information.
The Lunch, Learn & Play program takes place in the Youth Barn and in the yard and garden behind the Courthouse. The Youth Barn has seen some wonderful structural improvements provided by the generosity of the Shoppe. The barn offers an excellent venue for projects and programs, enhanced this year by new lighting, provided by the Shoppe. Food is prepared in the Battenkill Kitchen, next door to the barn. The Lunch, Learn & Play section of the Community Garden has been expanded and there are plans to involve kids in the design and building of a shelter next to the garden to be used for garden relaxation.
L, L & P is always open to hearing about project or programming ideas for the children. Please feel free to call 854-7053 to offer a suggestion. This year we are especially interesed in hearing about local folks who have a skill or craft that our 5th and 6th graders could interview them about.The children will be creating a book about sagesand artisans.
Washington Academy, founded in 1780, later becoming Salem Central School, was among the first secondary schools in New York State. Maintaining quality educational programs has always been given a high priority. The district's buildings retain the charm of its early architecture and unique beginning.
The Salem Central School District has a stable enrollment of 564 students, K-12, on one central campus. This includes approximately 27 students from the neighboring town of Rupert who are enrolled in the secondary level program as part of a unique relationship with the state of Vermont. The 264 students in the elementary school are served by 16 classroom teachers, as well as full-time professional personnel in the areas of art, music, physical education, and library science.
The K-6 structure offers traditional classes as well as a departmentalized approach in fifth and sixth grade. Also programs in Reading Recovery and mentoring help to illustrate the emphasis placed on preparing students to become successful lifelong learners in a competitive society.
Salem's Washington Academy is comprised of grades 7-12 and strives to meet the needs of all students. More than seventy five percent of the student body typically chooses to pursue post secondary education. Others seek added skills training, enter the job market, or enlist in the military.
In the Jr./Sr. High, 28 teachers serve approximately 340 students in academic, occupational, fine arts, and special education areas. Instruction in a second language (French and Spanish) begins in the seventh grade. Highlighting an excellent agricultural program is an on-site greenhouse in the high school courtyard. Expanded computer lab facilities provide students with the opportunity to develop this important technological skill. In addition, Advanced Placement English, History and Calculus are available to students in their junior and senior years as well as a science research course. Also through a NYS and federal grant, students in grades 7-12 are able to participate in a service learning program. Typically, students have logged in well over 5000 hours while completing service learning activities throughout our school and local community during each of the past five years.
Enjoy this recipe/coloring book courtesy of Salem Courthouse (PDF):