Historic Access

Fenton Breaks Ground On New Entrance

From left, Rick Lundquist, Fenton History Center board president; Micah Meredith, Empire Development owner/president; Noah Goodling, Fenton History Center executive director; Vince DeJoy, city development director; Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor; and Jeff Lehman, city public works director, standing at the main entrance to the Fenton History Center where a new handicapped accessible entrance will be installed this summer. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

Handicapped accessibility will be improved at the Fenton History Center once a new entrance has been constructed.

On Thursday, a ground-breaking ceremony was held to celebrate the construction of the new handicapped accessibility ramp that will make the first floor of the Fenton Mansion accessible in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Noah Goodling, Fenton History Center director, said the ramp is designed for year-round accessibility and it will be equipped with a snow-melt system for safer winter use.

“We are working with Empire Development to make sure that the architecture of the ramp supports and merges with the Italianate architecture of the Fenton Mansion,” Goodling said. “Aesthetic elements like the corbels or columns will be designed specifically to match the Fenton Mansion so that it will feel, as much as possible, like an original part of the house. Any elements of the original Fenton Mansion that will need to be displaced by the ramp or through the construction process will be preserved in alternate locations.”

Goodling said the $100,000 ramp construction project went through a bidding process, with the winning bid being made by Empire Development. Subcontractors will include Ahlstrom-Schaeffer for electrical work and Ridout Heating and Cooling for a boiler installation.

“The Lenna Foundation and the Hultquist Foundation gave funding for some of the preliminary work in this process, with final funding being arranged through a partnership between the Fenton History Center and the city of Jamestown,” he said. “The money from the city was in the form of Community Development Block Grant funds, which are federal funds that support a variety of public projects, but have an emphasis on making public buildings ADA-accessible. We at the Fenton are extremely grateful to all of our community partners for their ongoing support throughout this project — it would not have been possible, otherwise.”

This is the first phase of a two-part project that will make most of the Fenton Mansion accessible to anyone, regardless of physical ability, Goodling said.

“The second phase will be to install a limited use/limited application three-stop elevator, opening up the basement and second floor also,” he said. “We’ve had architectural plans drawn up for where and how the elevator could be installed while maintaining the historical character of the house, and got bids for it, but don’t have a timeline at this moment for when that second phase might happen.”

Goodling said the installation of the ramp and elevator projects are a part of a larger mission that has guided Fenton History Center policy during the last several years, which is to ensure that the museum is welcoming and accessible to everyone.

“It joins a list of other policies and projects including digitizing and bringing online our museum and research catalog (with the help of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation), making the museum free for anyone under the age of 18 to encourage family visits and holding events geared specifically towards people on the autism spectrum or with similar mental disabilities,” he said. “We are committed to ensuring that access to Jamestown’s history and historical resources is as open as possible to everyone, regardless of physical or mental ability, socioeconomic status, geographic distance or any other potential barrier.”

Micah Meredith, Empire Development owner/president, said the entrance project will start Monday and will be done by the end of the summer.