Adirondack Exhibit Center

4195 State Highway 3

Star Lake, New York 13690

The "Save Our Schoolhouse" Story

Some Background Information

In July, 2006, the Town of Fine Board placed a notice in the Bargain Hunter stating that the 1892 Star Lake Schoolhouse (a.k.a. the Youth Center) was up for bid to be purchased and removed from its current location on Main Street. The ad’s implication was that if no bids were received, the building would be permanently removed. At this time, the Town of Fine wasn’t using the building any longer because they moved their offices to the newly purchased (Catechetical) building a half mile to the West. The Food Pantry also moved from the schoolhouse across the street into the new Community Center. The age and condition of the building and the lack of insulation made it too costly to heat and maintain for the Town of Fine. They no longer wanted to bear the cost of its maintenance, as it was no longer being used by anyone.

This notice upset many people and they began to talk about what could be done to save the building. A petition, started by Bob and Irene Bauerschmidt, totaled 139 signatures in favor of saving the old schoolhouse. A special public meeting was held at the new Community Center with the Fine Town Board. After hearing the public outcry against the removal of the schoolhouse, the Board voted to defer any action for two months. They asked those who wanted to preserve the building to prove its ongoing value by exploring and recommending possible uses for it.

Creation of the SOS Committee

What is Save Our Schoolhouse (SOS) and how did it come about? The following quote from the August 7, 2006 Bargain Hunter provides some answers to these questions. “As a result of this unfortunate situation, something beautiful and exciting is happening in our community. Residents of the Star Lake Area–both year 'round and summer, on the water and off, long-standing and new, have joined together as a group to save our schoolhouse. We call ourselves “SOS”. We value the history and beauty of this building and we are working hard to find a use for it that will benefit the entire community. Some suggestions have been a public library, Town of Fine historical museum/society, artisans’ guild/workshop, art gallery, and living history classroom/museum. What do you think?”

It was a great start. At this meeting the following people were elected to offices: President: George Persson; Vice President: Joe Russo; Treasurer: Karen Reese; Recording Secretary: Joan Leffert; Corresponding Sec’y/Newsletter Chair: Kristine Lachut; Economic Development Corporation Liaison: Hank Moshano; and Reunion/Alumni Liaison: Feets Shelton. As many of you know, approximately 10 years later, the building is now called the Adirondack Exhibit Center. Many of the possible uses mentioned in the quote above have been accomplished in the old schoolhouse.

SOS Mission Statement

One of the first undertakings was to develop a clear mission statement that would incorporate the renovation and repurposing of the old schoolhouse. Following is the result: "A group of concerned citizens trying to save the old school building in the most diplomatic, economical, and productive way possible with the sole purpose of enriching our community."

The Project Timeline

Following is a chronological description of the restoration project from 2006 to present, including significant construction milestones and events that took place.  Click on a picture to view an enlarged image; click "back" to return.


July, 2006 marked the beginning of the SOS (Save Our Schoolhouse) Organization. We were accepted as a committee of the Clifton-Fine Economic Development Corporation. Monday mornings, 9-noon was designated as work sessions and the renovations of the old schoolhouse began. Members, sometimes 30 strong, scraped and painted the exterior. The inside of the school building was gutted, walls sanded and patched, with the goal of making the schoolhouse look as close as possible to it’s early years.

Events: First Ice Cream Social and Silent Auction held at the CF Arena, Sat. September 30.
First Annual SOS 5 K Race/Fun Walk held on Sunday October 1.

Click on a picture for a larger view; click browser "back" button to return to this page


Spring, summer, and fall of 2007 saw continued restoration of the old school building. New pine ceilings and insulation were installed. New exterior doors were also installed, with the east side door made handicap-accessable.

Events: In July, SOS took 1st place in the Star Lake Fire Department Parade with its float. The Second Ice Cream social and silent auction took place at the Arena on September 29th and the 2nd 5K race was run on the next day, Sunday, September 30th.

Parade float Parade float Float crew float crew


The 2008 season saw the resurfaced of the front steps and repair and added new wrought iron railings. New electrical wiring was installed, thanks to Carl Malady. Phil Chandler developed the web site (

Events: Pictures below are of another successful Ice Cream Social and Silent Auction held on Saturday, August 23rd at the Arena.  On Sunday, August 24th, the 3rd SOS 5K was run.

Bob Jones and Feets Shelton announce winners of the silent auction
Co-chairs of the Ice Cream Social Joyce White and Irene Bauerschmidt
Anita Persson, Phil and Ginny Chandler man the cash register
Joyce White making the SOS sign
Joe and Margie Russo taking a break
Katherine and Will Steif: "Let's see--how heavy is it?"
Jesse Palermo, ice cream scooper and co-chair Irene Bauerschmidt
Winner of 10 gallons of ice cream


Mark LeRoux spray painted the walls and ceiling with fire retardant paint. Pete White cut, mitered and nailed all the chair rail moldings and mop boards. Joyce White, Margie and Joe Russo tried to stay ahead of Pete, and painted all the molding before he nailed it up. The original hardwood floors were stripped and refinished by Gouverneur Co. at a cost of $2500.

Events: Saturday, August 8th saw another Ice Cream Social at the Arena. On Sunday, August 9th, the 4th SOS 5 K was run.


Sunday, August 8th saw an SOS Fun Day. This is the year we combined the Ice Cream Social (which became a Pie Social) with the Fifth 5K race, all on the same day. We used two 10 x 20 canopies with 2 easy-ups, thanks to members David Daniels and Bobby Christian, who put them up. The railroad club served Michigan’s and Sloppy Joes.

Event: The first Adirondack Furniture Exhibit, featuring furniture by Sherm and Anette Craig, was a big success.


This marks the first full summer for the old schoolhouse to be known as the Adirondack Exhibit Center under our first exhibit coordinator Phil Chandler. We can’t thank Phil enough for his hard work and expertise. Phil started a new web site ( to reflect the new name for the old schoolhouse.

The season began on May 16th with an open house and ribbon cutting. This was done in conjunction with the Clifton-Fine Economic Development Corportation (CFEDC) meeting. Fine Supervisor Mark Hall, Clifton Supervisor Bob Snider, CFEDC President Chris Westbrook, State Representative Fred Morrill, along with SOS President George Persson, cut the traditional ribbons, celebrating the opening of the Adirondack Exhibit Center. Also happening at this time was the unveiling of our new outdoor sign designed by Phil Chandler and made by Scott Fraser.

The new schoolhouse dedication happened on June 26, 2011.  This was a celebration and recognition for former students, teachers and friends. Jeanie Lampson’s beautiful watercolor painting of the school was unveiled and donated to the Exhibit Center by Ginny and Phil Chandler. Stories were told, and all the former students received a 5” x 7” print of Jeanie’s painting.

During late August, a badly needed new roof was installed by Fred Zimmerman and his roofing crew. The old roof was removed; new boards added where needed, and black asphalt shingles made for a beautiful new roof. This took approximately four days. Time and labor was donated by Fred and his construction crew. "Thank you," Fred Zimmerman and crew!

Ribbon cutting ceremony Ribbon cutting ceremony New roof construction New AEC sign
Town Supervisor Mark Hall officiates at the ribbon cutting ceremony
Community members look on as ribbon is cut on new AEC
Volunteers Fred Zimmerman and crew install new roof
Pete White works on new AEC sign


During early spring, restoration of the east side unisex handicapped bathroom was accomplished
by carpenter Brian Merkley. Brian was able to save much of the original tongue and groove walls and ceilings. It turned out beautiful.

Historic Preservation award

Also in 2012, the SOS and AEC won a distinguished award. Anita and George Persson and Margie and Joe Russo attended a ceremony at the Top of the World Golf Course, Lake George. The SOS, AEC, was presented the Adirondack Heritage Preservation Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation. Awards for Sensitive Restoration and the Adaptive Reuse of an historic building were presented to the AEC. (see here for more information)


New Handicap-accessible bathroom

During early spring, restoration of the west side bathroom was accomplished by Brian Merkley. Both bathrooms now have new plumbing, fixtures, and floors. The original tongue in groove walls were refinished and restored to their original beauty. We are very happy to have two good sized bathrooms, especially for our SOS DAY, which continues to grow each year.


The SOS was happy to introduce Sue Novak as our new Adirondack Exhibit Coordinator, Mary Jo Muse as our Recording Secretary, and Kristie Ahern as our Corresponding Secretary. These people have been very valuable and it is a pleasure to have them with us.

A new furnace was purchased and installed in late fall. Thanks to our grant writer, John Burns, we received grants from the Damouth Fund and the Clifton-Fine Community Foundation Fund. Local contractor Dean Kerr installed a new gas furnace. This will enable us to have more spring and fall exhibits, when it is a little cooler here in the North Country.