TUPPER LAKE – Last week it looked like the Tupper Lake Historical Museum would lose its home at Junction Station, owned by Next Stop! Tupper Lake, as the Adirondack Railroad Preservation Society prepares to move in. But this week, members of the three organizations said negotiations were back to house the two in the building.
ARPS is preparing to introduce tourist train service from Utica to Tupper Lake as the state rehabilitates the rail corridor as part of its railroad project. The end of the line would be at the Tupper Lake station on Main Street.
When the museum lost its home in the old Pine Street Fire Hall in 2018, it moved its 530-foot gallery to the station, which was not in use at the time.
Dan McClelland is the President of Next Stop! Tupper Lake and member of the museum’s board of trustees. He brought the museum and would like it to stay.
“I hope we can find a place in the station for everyone” said McClelland, who also owns and edits the Tupper Lake Free Press newspaper. “But if things go well, I built this station with the support of a lot of people in Tupper Lake, and the goal was to be a station, so that’s what it’s going to be. “
Museum president Kathleen Lefebvre said the historical collection needed a permanent home and said the train station was a good place for it.
“We cannot continue to move forward” she said. “We just moved.”
Lefebvre is also a member of Next Stop! Tupper Lake Council.
She said ARPS executive director Justin Gonyo told her the museum will have to downsize the exhibits there to make room for rail operations. She’s ready to do this.
Some exhibits would stay and take up a smaller space at the edges of the building. Others would need to be moved to another location for storage or to set up new exhibits.
If an agreement is not reached, the museum will have to leave the station by October.
“We work with the museum” Gonyo told Enterprise. “That’s all I have to say.”
ARPS pays rent to Next Stop! Tupper Lake for its space in the building.
The building was constructed by volunteers with the help of donations and was completed in 2008. McClelland said his organization and the town of Tupper Lake currently share ownership of the property, but that he would eventually like to transfer ownership. property entirely in the city.
When the museum moved in 2018, the city was selling the building it was in after the structure fell into disrepair.
Lefebvre said the move was a big undertaking and that she is uncertain where the historical society might house the collection if it were to relocate again.
Lefebvre thinks that having the museum in the station would be beneficial for both. When passengers leave the train, they can experience Tupper Lake and learn the history of the places they will be visiting.
Lefebvre said the museum’s board is trying to convince ARPS that they will agree.
Lefebvre said the museum should be visible. She said there had been a sharp increase in the number of visitors since moving from the old fire station, on a side street, to the station on the main road through town.
Lefebvre said the museum’s first summer at the station, in 2019, was very busy, with people coming to browse the collection from 26 states and from Australia, Germany and Canada.
Last year, with the COVID-19 pandemic, she said the museum still had a good turnout, all things considered.
Lefebvre said Tupper Lake needed a history museum. It has stories to tell about the railroads, Sunmount, the sawmills, the Oval Wood Dish factory, the families who founded the town who still live there, and the great fire that nearly destroyed the town in 1899.
Lefebvre said the organization is working to re-establish itself as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit. It lost its status years ago and wanted to renew it recently.
The museum will be open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout the month of June. From July, it will have the same hours every day of the week but will be closed on Sundays.