East Aurora Advertiser

Roycroft Campus in Line for $350,000 from County Funding

Considering it has been around for 121-years, the Print Shop tower on the Roycroft Campus has held up well. But each year, campus leaders inspect it and note that major renovations will be needed before it becomes a public safety hazard. 

Until recently, what needed to happen was understood, but how to pay for it was not. Work would have to be prioritized, or sections of the building might need to be shut down until the funding became available. 

Yet as of last week, the funding avenue is now clear for some construction effort, which will begin next year to make the needed repairs to the tower. The campus was awarded $350,000 from Erie County under an initiative to support art and cultural institutions across the region. Now, the campus will be able to both solidify the structure and bring back some historical elements. 

“We’re truly grateful to Erie County for seeing the potential of the Roycroft Campus,” Curt Maranto, the executive director of the campus, said. “We could not do this work without that help.”

He said that in the long history of the Print Shop tower, there is no clear evidence that much has been done to maintain it. Over the years it has suffered from harsh winter weather, which has dissolved mortar between stones, and some “additions” led to other problems. A satellite dish installed many decades ago caused leaking that damaged the roof and floors below. That satellite dish also meant a fourth floor skylight had to be removed. 

The Print Shop tower on the Roycroft Campus is in line to receive $350,000 from Erie County to take care of repairs to the upper floors.
Photo by Rick Ohler

With this county money, Maranto said the campus will reinstall the skylight, repoint the exterior tower stone and fix the damaged ceilings. 

As the campus is a National Historic Landmark, Amizetta Haj, director of visitor engagement for the campus, said that renovation work means that the campus has to abide by historical guidelines set by the state. 

“There are certain standards we have to meet that can make costs go up,” Haj said. “We’re grateful for this money as it means we don’t have to just patch it up.”

The current plan is to have the work start this spring and finish before summer so visitors have another place to visit.

“It’s exciting that we will be able to add to the guest experience,” she said. 

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he wanted to use federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to support cultural institutions throughout the county. He is planning to allocate a total of $25 million towards that goal, and a Capital Projects Committee recommended spending $8.6 million of that money on 36 local organizations. This includes the Roycroft Campus. 

“This capital improvements funding for art and cultural organizations will assist them in completing projects that they may not have been able to undertake by themselves and will strengthen the overall arts community in Erie County,” Poloncarz said. 

Along with the campus, the Holland Historical Society was awarded $11,000. The group will use that money to fix the front porch where it rents space.

County Legislator Joseph Lorigo was part of the planning that allocated money to the various county organizations.

“Arts and culture are an important part of the fabric of our communities,” he said. “I am proud to have played a role in securing funding for both the Roycroft Campus and Holland Historical Society. Both of these organizations and their leadership do so much to promote and preserve our local history. I appreciate the work they are doing and will continue to support their efforts in any way possible.”

For Holland, the money will rebuild the brick steps that will keep the building’s historic look in place. The group is located at 47 Pearl St. in Holland. Holland Historical Society President Joy Bucknam said it’s not a big job, but “we’re thrilled to get the money” to make the repairs. The bricks have been in place for about 40 years and are coming apart. This is only for the steps, not the roof over the porch. She said the rear of the building, where the society has its space, is handicap accessible and the new work will not interfere with that. 

She said the society will not get the money until January, so work would also likely not begin until spring. 

The Holland Historical Society opened its doors in its new headquarters located at the corner of Main Street and Holland Glenwood Road in 2021.  Photo by Marty Wangelin, File Photo 2021

Right now, the society does have regular open hours for the public. People can visit it the second and fourth Saturday of each month from noon to 3 p.m. As time goes on, the group will also add more programming to entice people to visit. 

For the Roycroft Campus, there is always more work to do, including at the Print Shop, but that will take place in the future, Maranto said. There are plans to someday restore classic windows, bring back vaulted ceilings on the second floor and take out layers of tile floor to showcase the original wood floor underneath. But current estimates show that to complete all the needed work would cost around $4.5 million for the not-for-profit entity. 

Haj said the county funding, both this time and in the past, has been instrumental in supporting the historic destination, but she also said smaller, ongoing donations from community members and visitors are also key in keeping up with operations. 

“We’ve been grateful to the community for stepping up and helping. We couldn’t do it without them,” Haj said. 

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