Marking a milestone in progress
Girl Scouts invite community to celebrate past, present and future
JAMESTOWN — Girl Scouts of Western New York are planning a fun-filled day of activities, and the public is invited. Scheduled for Nov. 11, the celebration marks the 25th anniversary of the dedication of its Program and Service Center located at 6221 Horton Road in Jamestown. At 11 p.m., a formal program will be held there, followed by access to displays and exhibits, many of them interactive. According to Jerilyn Hickey, Chief Development Officer of Girl Scouts of Western New York, “While it’s hard to predict exactly, the formal program should take about 45 minutes.”
That formal program will include a flag ceremony, opening of the time capsule, a history of the building’s property and construction, the unveiling of a patch to commemorate the anniversary, and additions to the time capsule.
Hickey explained that visitors can take advantage of a special passport to enjoy the many opportunities to learn. Girl Scouts attired in different vintage uniforms, a slide presentation about scouting activities past and present in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus County and memorabilia such as scrapbooks will be on view.
Although almost everyone is familiar with Girl Scout cookies and knows that the types have varied through the years, many may be unaware that in the beginning (about 1917), troop members baked and packaged the cookies for sale. Those attending can sample cookies baked according to an original recipe.
Girl Scouts love to sing, so song sharing is sure to happen. Camping and outdoor activity is an important part of scouting, and examples of that will be available, outside if weather permits. The building sits on almost 50 acres of land and was built to encourage outdoor activity. Alumnae scouts may be able to reconnect.
Girl Scout programming has grown and adjusted to the times. In a nod to the present and future, information about new STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) badges will be available.
Local Girl Scouts have been planning this event since March 26, 2017 when a tea was held for alumnae of the organization. At that time, a brainstorming session took place with groups suggesting activities. Since then a committee has met periodically to firm up and implement ideas. Anyone who wants further information about the upcoming celebration can contact Jerilyn Hickey at 935-6047 or firstname.lastname@example.org. It is a good idea to RSVP so that enough special anniversary patches will be available. The patches are free.
GIRL SCOUTS DID IT RIGHT
On Oct. 31, 1992, nearly 2,000 girls, leaders and community members “shared in the festive dedication” which marked the formal opening of the Girl Scout Program and Service Center, according to the report which appeared in the Post Journal on Saturday Nov. 7, 1992.
Girls who attended brought bulbs to plant. Girl Scout service units donated trees that were planted around the building and in the council woods.
The day began with a brunch for major donors who were honored with a cobalt blue mug with the words “Your vision has made our dream a reality.” Contractors, the project supervisor, clerk of the works, architects and local firms were recognized for their talents. Foundations, which played a large role in the funding, received green marble plaques.
In response to the presentation of plaques, John Hamilton of the Gebbie Foundation was quoted as saying, “Girl Scouts did it right.”
LOOKING BACK AT THE PROCESS
Joanne E. Nelson, the chairwoman of the original building committee, and (in 1992) the President of the Chautauqua Area Girl Scout Council Board of Directors, provided a wealth of information about the project. Nelson currently serves on the planning committee for the anniversary celebration, and was director of the Girl Scout Camp Timbercrest in Randolph for a number of years
Nelson remembers the conditions of the two offices utilized by Girl Scouts prior to the opening of the Service Center. One was on the second floor of the old IOOF building on Main Street Fredonia and a satellite office in Falconer was located over a bank. Both were inaccessible for many people and there wasn’t enough space for activities such as training and board meetings.
“There were no elevators and someone had placed a sign ‘You’re almost there’ near the entrance to the office in Fredonia at the top of the steps,” Nelson recalled with a laugh.
She pinpointed Sept. 25, 1989, the date the Chautauqua Area Girl Scout Council Board of Directors charged the property committee to “initiate a plan for a new office” and to work with the council treasurer to “investigate the feasibility of establishing a fund towards the establishment of a new office” as the historical beginning of a process that led to the service center. At the time Cristie Herbst, editor of the Post-Journal, was acting chairwoman of the property committee and Nelson a member of the committee.
On Jan. 22, 1990, Nelson became chairwoman and Herbst remained on the committee. Herbst also served as co-chairperson of the Capital Campaign Committee. She acknowledged the crucial role of the foundations–The Gebbie Foundation, Inc., The Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation, Inc., Hultquist Foundation, Inc., T. James & Hazel C. Clark Memorial Trust, Jessie Smith Darrah Fund, Carnahan-Jackson Foundation and The Reginald A. and Elizabeth S. Lenna Foundation Inc.–in meeting the costs involved. What perhaps people don’t understand is that there were many donors. “Andy Goodell (who served on the Board of Directors and was Chautauqua County Executive) did a tremendous amount of fundraising,” Herbst said.
In January and February 1990, the Property Committee working with Executive Director Sharon Baade collected data and after studying it recommended the building be located in southern Chautauqua County. This was the center of the Chautauqua Area Girl Scout Council — which had been organized from the 1959 merger of the Northern Chautauqua Council, the Jamestown Council and the Salamanca Council.
From February through May, the Property Committee reviewed 33 possible sites. The last site visited, 49.3 acres on Horton Road, was selected. In June a contract was entered into, and a special board meeting was held on the site to vote on the purchase. The Board of Directors unanimously approved the site.
Because there is there is a north/south division in site selection or running of programs in Chautauqua County, it is interesting to note that (the late) Loretta Sage of Dunkirk was board president and (the late) Ed Hamlet of Sheridan were on the board. Sally Ludlum of Dunkirk was also serving on the board. Ludlum, who is now involved in other activities, recalled voting for the measure. “I believe that questions were asked, but the rationale was that the site was located at the center of the Council, so it made sense,” she said.
Site selection and board approval was only the beginning of the process. The Board now appointed a Building/Site Planning Task Force, consisting of four property committee members, a property consultant for GSUSA, a Horton Road resident, a (Cadet and Senior) girl member, and the Executive Director Baade.
Nelson said, “It made sense to appoint a local resident. This was a quiet agricultural area, and some of the residents were worried about possible noise and activity. I suppose I would have worried about the same thing. The committee took that into account and to this day outdoor activity doesn’t take place after 9 p.m.”
In the ensuing months, the committee had to seek and was granted a special use permit from the Town of Ellicott to change the usage of the site from agricultural to business. Starting with seven possible architects, it selected the firm that became Sandberg and Kessler. Sandberg became the architect in March 1991.
In October 1991 a ground breaking ceremony was held. On April 13, 1992, construction began. “We used local contractors,” Nelson said.
In addition to Sandberg, these were: General Contractor, L.G. Hall, Dunkirk; HVAC, Ciancio Mechanical, Jamestown; Electrical, Ahlstrom-Schaeffer, Jamestown; Plumbing, J & M Plumbing, Dunkirk; and Clerk of the Works, Jack Kammer of Mayville.
On Oct 19, 1992, Girl Scouts took possession of the office wing and on Oct. 31, the official dedication took place. The process had taken three years.
AN ARCHITECT’S INSIGHT
Architect Steve Sandberg, whose firm Sandberg Kessler Architecture recently became part of LaBella Associates, grew up in Jamestown and is still a practicing architect who specializes in educational, municipal and health care buildings. He and his wife Pat plan to attend the Nov. 11 event.
To commemorate National Architecture week April 10-16, 2017 LaBella highlighted its architects.
Asked to describe a project of which he was proud, he cited his work on the Girl Scout Service Center, one of several projects commissioned in the early days of his firm.
“The Girl Scouts project was a unique opportunity to work with a committee with a clear vision of creating a building that made a unique visual statement on a highly visible site, formed a continuation of the pathway from the parking lotto the outdoor views and spaces and employed natural materials, passive solar energy and natural ventilation. We used wood shingles and trim on the exterior and hardwoods from the Girl Scouts’ nearby camp for interior flooring and trim. An indoor/outdoor fireplace of Pennsylvania Ledgerock is at the heart of the building. The committee and the scouting community was delighted with the result,” he wrote.
The project sheet for the building describes it as follows. “The central “spine” of the floor plan is not only a gathering space with a natural stone fireplace but also the starting off point for the trail system on the site. This interior “pathway” divides administrative spaces from the meeting spaces and kitchen which was designed to be available after hours to other not-for- profit agencies.”
When asked for other comments he wrote, “I can’t say enough about the Girl Scouts’ building committee. They understood exactly what they wanted this building to represent and how it should function to provide for maximum flexibility in the future.”
Nelson said, “Steve listened to us and knew how to create what we wanted.”
Twenty-five years later, it’s still a beautiful and functional building. The anniversary celebration is a good time to take a look at it.