Ogdensburg hopes to salvage history before psych center buildings are razed

Published: Aug. 3, 2023 at 5:18 PM EDT
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OGDENSBURG, New York (WWNY) - Officials from Ogdensburg and the state are weighing in about what they would like to see happen to the soon-to-be demolished Letchworth building complex at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center.

Ogdensburg Interim Manager Andrea Smith says she feels mixed emotions as 10 abandoned buildings are set for tear-down. Smith says she is excited for the rundown properties to be reduced to rubble, but it’s what’s inside the buildings she does not want to see destroyed.

“Beautiful, beautiful woodwork. Obviously, the masonry work is outstanding,” she said.

Smith is hopeful Ogdensburg can work alongside the state to preserve the historical aspects of the psych center.

“I am hoping that the state is taking into consideration some salvage efforts to salvage and possibly re-purpose materials associated with the construction and as well as the actual furnishings inside,” she said.

Her sentiments are echoed by both those at the city and state levels.

“I think that there ought to be a historic preservation process, especially for the administration building and some of the other historic buildings,” said Ogdensburg City Councillor John Rishe.

“I would love to see some of the materials from these buildings reused for a public purpose and to give Ogdensburg the opportunity to really have some say for what happens to the salvage materials that come off of these properties,” said state Senator Mark Walczyk (R - 49th District).

To do so, Walczyk plans to bring his proposal to the state’s dormitory authority.

“What I’m going to be asking the dormitory authority is to give the city of Ogdensburg the first right of refusal for any salvage materials. So if they’d like to sell those, or use those for a public purpose for the city of Ogdensburg, I’d really like to see that done,” he said.

Walczyk’s predecessor, retired state Senator Patty Richie says she’s thrilled that the state is finally taking action at the site. She says it “is wonderful, long-awaited news for the city of Ogdensburg and the first step in putting the property back into productive use.”