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YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD: Higher calling for Adirondack Life HQ

May 2, 2014
By MATTHEW TURNER ( , Lake Placid News

JAY - On state Route 9N in Jay, there is an office building unlike any other. Formerly a Methodist Episcopal Church, built circa 1848, the building was give new life when a magazine setup shop there in the late 80s.

The brick church has Gothic-style arched windows, is four stories tall, and includes a bell tower. Prior to Adirondack Life magazine settling there the building had been vacant for years.

Steven Engelhart the director Adirondack Architectural Heritage said the building is unique as far as church architecture goes. Although there is another church in Wilmington with a similar second-story space.

Article Photos

An old postcard of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Jay, the current headquarters of Adirondack Life magazine

"Methodists promoted the idea of elevating their sanctuary space," Engelhart said. "Usually its at ground level, but here you go up a set of stairs (to the second floor)."

The building type was created by Methodists and Episcopalians in the middle decades of the 19th century, according to the book, "A History of Design and Building," by Sally Svenson, published by AARCH.

Based in Keeseville, AARCH is a nonprofit historic preservation organization for the Adirondack Park created to promote the areas architectural heritage.

Adirondack Life is perhaps more used to winning awards for its journalism, but in 1999 they won an award from AARCH for their reuse of the building. The magazine moved into the space in 1989.

"We gave Adirondack Life magazine an award for their adaptive reuse of that building as their magazine headquarters," Engelhart said. "The reason we gave them that award was because churches are hard to turn into other buildings, they don't lend themselves to other uses like houses or commercial businesses easily.

Engelhart said before Adirondack Life moved there he had concerns for the vacant historical churches survival.

Elizabeth Folwell, creative director of the magazine said the company is in the building for the long haul now, after extensive renovations by the current owner.

"The congregation pretty much moved away and the building was acquired by the owner of the magazine in the 1980s," Folwell said.

Folwell said although the building isn't a typical office space it certainly doesn't lack space.

"There's nothing claustrophobic about the space, its a space that is very conducive to impromptu meetings," Folwell said. "It's a space that encourages collaborations."

The ground floor level of the church was formerly offices and sunday school area and the magazine continues to use it for offices. On the second floor of the church there is the sanctuary where the Methodists worshiped.

Folwell described it as a large open space. The editorial department works in the sanctuary area.

"That room is pretty much the same format as it was in the church," she said. "Its a big open workspace with huge windows."

Inside the choir loft you can look into the sanctuary, Folwell said. The windows are in the same configuration as the previous church.

"If you're in the choir loft and look down, you can see the entire second floor," she said.

On the third floor of the building there are two offices with a balcony. The CEO and business manager stay there.

Adirondack Life magazine covers the entire Adirondack Park. The magazine has 15 full-time employees on staff. Folwell said the magazine prides themselves on not only covering the beauty of the Adirondacks but also its problems.

"Adirondack Life is how people who love the park stay in touch with their favorite place," Folwell said.



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