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January 31, 2013

Hartwick couples discuss 'What Were We Thinking?'

By Greg Klein
Cooperstown Crier

---- — FLY CREEK

Members of the Fly Creek Area Historical Society got a sneak peak last Wednesday at two restoration projects going on in neighboring Hartwick, at the group’s January meeting, which took place at the Fly Creek Methodist Church.

Paul and Martha Clarvoe and Mark and Gloria Waro showed photos and told stories about their experiences bringing two old storefronts in Hartwick — on county Road 11, west of state Route 205, on either side of the post office — that they said they hope to bring back for commercial use.

“This is fascinating,” society President Sherlee Rathbone said. “I could listen and ask questions forever.”

The presentation was titled, “What Were We Thinking?” Each couple joked about cost and trials of bringing old buildings up to code and back to commercial viability.

“When we bought it, it had no heat, no electric — well, not modern electric — and no septic system,” Martha Clarvoe said. “If you look at this picture, you can see the lead paint. It is not really dripping, but it looks like it is dripping.”

The Clarvoes’ property is on the east side of the Hartwick post office. Built in the mid-1800s, it was known as the O.S. Burch General Store. The couple said they bought it in December 2009 and plan to turn it into offices and some sort of recreational or social center.

The Waros property is to the west of the post office. It has had several stores in business there including the Old Hartwick Market, the W.E. Risley General Store and more recently, Coolen and Ostrander. 

Although their building has been updated more recently, the Waros said they are also dealing with the challenges of restoring it.

“Yes, we are crazy,” Gloria Waro said.

The couple said they first tried to purchase the property in 2009, but were outbid. They were able to buy it in 2011. The couple said they will turn it into a bakery for Gloria called Mommadukes Main Street Treats.

“It is what I’ve always known I am meant to be,” she said.

Both couples said they hope their restorations will add to the town’s tax base and commercial revitalization.

“Hartwick has been suffering for many years,” Waro said. “We would love for this to help make it better.”

Because their property had a business in it as recently as the late 20th century, the Waros property has needed less work; however, to restore it to the way it looked in the 1850s, which is their goal, will still take a lot of work and money.

“It is just a process,” Waro said. “You know history has happened here. I can’t even imagine how many people have passed over that door step.”

Both couples have gotten lots of help. The Clarvoe building renovation has been designed by Steve Zurby.

The Waro building renovation was designed by McManus Engineering. But they have also gotten help from their friends and neighbors.

“I can’t tell you how many people stop by,” Waro said, “and the next thing you know they are wielding a hammer.”