FORT PLAIN - The Preservation League of New York State has awarded a grant to Historic Fort Plain Inc. to help turn a historic church building into an arts and cultural center.
The $2,750 Technical Assistance Grant will be used for a building condition survey at the former Universalist Church, the most prominent building in the village. The structure, built in 1896, was threatened with demolition in 2011 after decades of vacancy, but an organization was formed to convert it to a community center.
"We were very excited," said Tolga Morawski, president of Historic Fort Plain.
Morawski said the grant allows the group to have an architect go through the building and develop a plan on what would need to be fixed or restored.
"It's kind of a blueprint for future work," Morawski said.
This could allow the group to apply for grants in the future based on what the architect finds.
Carl Stearns of Crawford and Sterns Preservation Architects already has begun his work on the building, according to Morawski.
Members of Historic Fort Plain say the building will serve as a concert hall, theater space, art gallery and educational center.
The Preservation League launched the Technical Assistance Grant program in 2012 to support projects that preserve New York state's cultural and historic resources.
According to the Historic Fort Plain website, the Universalist Church of the Messiah has a long history in the village. It was an important institution that served not only a large number of western Montgomery County residents, but also the students enrolled at the Clinton Liberal Institute, which was associated with the church from 1879 to 1900.
The first church was wooden, and in 1896, was torn down and replaced on site with the brick building that stands today.