Sci-Tech Center launches campaign to save its building on Stone Street

WATERTOWN, NY — The Sci-Tech Center of Northern New York announced today that it is beginning a major fundraising campaign, to repair the roof of its museum at 154 Stone Street in Watertown, as well as to complete other long overdue building repairs.

With a plan to raise a total of $58,000 before the end of the year, the hands-on science museum has already received commitments for 10% of that goal from the local community. Sci-Tech will now begin soliciting business, industry, foundations and individuals throughout its primary service area, comprising Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties.

Dating back over 100 years, Sci-Techs’ building originally housed Campbell and Lewis, a plumbing and heating company, as well as the meeting hall for the Joe Spratt post of Grand Army of the Republic.

Later, it was the site of Chemical Linings and then the local office of Blue Cross. In
1993, Sci-Tech transformed the building into the North Country’s science museum – a “family-friendly” playground for the mind – with exhibits and activities for children and adults. The building is one of the “contributing” structures to the Public Square Historic District, on the National Register of Historic Places.

As a totally volunteer organization, year after year Sci-Tech has used its meager resources to continue its educational activities, such as outreach programming for schools and youth centers; hands-on workshops for children and adults; and telescopic astronomy evenings.

Consequently, only a few additions have been possible to the museums' exhibits, and repairs to the building have been repeatedly put off from one year to the next.

At this point, repairs to the building’s roof can not be further delayed, but must be completed before serious damage occurs. This fundraising campaign will allow those repairs to be performed.

Over the next 3 weeks, Sci-Tech will be making its initial contact with more than 25 potential donors, and then will continue by soliciting support from 15 additional community members in each of the following weeks. Although it is hoped that many donors will make a contribution even before their support is formally solicited, the campaign will continue well into the fall.

Sci-Tech originally opened in 1983 in a space in the Dulles State Office building, moved to a
rented space in a no longer existing building on Arsenal Street, and then purchased its current Stone Street site in 1993. Although the building encompasses three floors, only the lower two are used as the museum. The third floor was originally built more than a century ago as a large meeting space, but that was long before current fire safety rules. With only a single narrow stairway, and the only fire escape located right beside that stairway, the third floor can not be safely used as a public access space. (We estimate that modifications to allow use of the third floor for the public would exceed $180,000.)

Consequently, Sci-Tech can only use the third floor as storage space.

Sci-Tech is the North Countrys' hands-on science museum, with exhibits, classes, workshops, and outreach programming for children and adults and is open year-round in downtown Watertown.

Sci-Tech partners with more than 300 other science museums around the nation, who offer free admission to Sci-Tech members.