CHATHAM – The Village Planning Board has approved plans presented July 16 for the renovation of the large brick building on Main Street at the corners of Austerlitz and River streets, once called the Windsor Hotel. The building will become the new offices of MetzWood Harder Insurance and also have five new apartments.
Scott Wood, of MetzWood Harder, and architect Joe Iuviene, of the Architectural Bureau in Chatham, were at the meeting to present new site plans for building that was at different points a hotel, a sanatorium, car dealership and Catholic Church. “There is quite a history to it,” Mr. Wood said in an interview with The Columbia Paper this week.
Mr. Wood said that village residents he has spoken to remember cars being driving up a wooden ramp on the second floor of the building in the 1960s. In the late 1800s the building was a factory that made aspirin for Dr. Abbott Mason and was called the Hygia Sanitarium.
There was a fire in the building in the late 1890s and it was rebuilt without the fourth floor, according to history of the building found by Mr. Wood. Later it became the Windsor Hotel. St James Catholic Church moved into the space about 12 years ago during renovations to the church.
Mr. Wood’s company plans to use 6,000 square feet for its offices, which are currently across the street on the traffic circle. The apartments will be about 1,400 square feet each, which Mr. Wood calls “huge by area standards.” He said that though the apartments will be open for anyone, he envisions them as a place for people looking to downsize from a bigger house and who want to be close to services on Main Street.
Mr. Wood said his company started construction on the building four or five years ago but stopped. “This is a much better time to go forward with it,” he said. He declined to provide the cost of the renovations, although he said a major part of the expense meeting current codes, which require an elevator and sprinkler system.
MetzWood Harder is celebrating its 100th year in business next year, Mr. Wood said. He is third generation in the insurance business in Chatham. He hopes to tie the opening of the new building to that anniversary.
The Planning Board looked at the site plans in April and approved the plans this month. At the April meeting several board members expressed their support for the project. Board member Aaron Gaylond said, “I think it’s a wonderful improvement to our village.”
The site plans are now out for bids for construction and Mr. Wood is hoping it will be done by this time next year.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .