Our Story Continued...

Today Pickens Hall is once again the heart of the community.  The not-for-profit Pickens General Store sells a wide variety of local goods including Amish-made products as well as non-electric household and hardware items.  On the second floor are found displays of local historic interest,  a meeting room, and a large event space for numerous classes such as Tai Chi, harmonica, guitar, origami, cider pressing, and pumpkin carving along with 4th Grade history program events.  The third floor houses exhibit rooms, a "Green Room", a small serving kitchen for refreshments, and the magnificent Opera House which can accommodate up to 250 people and has been outfitted with first class sound and lighting systems for performers and general activities.

The project has been an economic boost for the community and the county, has encouraged revitalization in the modest downtown, has provided a location for local and regional performing arts from school groups to traveling professionals.

From the beginning, preservation of the building's most historically and architecturally significant features was a paramount concern for the HHA.  Inappropriate later treatments were removed, tin ceilings were taken down to allow structural repairs and were then reinstalled, mechanical systems were integrated with great care, missing historic features were replicated based on surviving examples and photos, and historic finishes were restored to their original appearance.

On the third floor the severely deteriorated Pickens Hall and its significant 19th century finishes were documented thoroughly and restored to near original condition including using nearly 1,000 pieces of custom printed wallpaper to match the original which had deteriorated beyond repair.  

At the same time the building was provided with all new heating and air conditioning systems, new plumbing, all new electrical and lighting, and new fire detection and alarms to ensure the safety of both the building and its occupants.  With construction of the elevator and new toilet facilities, and careful attention to circulation routes all public portions of the building are accessible to and usable by all persons.

In addition to the preservation efforts noted above, the exterior masonry was repaired and repointed with traditional lime-rich mortars, later accretions were removed and the historic storefronts were restored (using hand-formed narrow iron muntins to mimic the originals), and all of the original double hung windows were restored to full operation.  

All work was planned by an experienced architectural restoration firm (Crawford & Stearns), was reviewed and approved by the State Historic Preservation Office, and was executed by a regional contractor with a sincere interest in preservation (Continental Construction).  From the beginning all parties worked closely together to ensure the best quality of work possible under each phase.  Furthermore, the many newspaper articles and radio interviews that covered this project over the years provided an effective regional forum for promoting good preservation.

At the building's grand opening on April 30, 2016 State Senator Patty Ritchie said to David Kingsley, President of the Heuvelton Historical Association, that the project is "even better than I could have imagined.  What a great addition to our community" while Assembly Member Addie Jenne has written that the group has "transformed a deteriorated historic building, one quite possibly headed for the wrecking ball, into a vibrant center for arts and culture in the region as well