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Fundraising campaign aims to repair Remington museum facade

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OGDENSBURG — A multi-generational approach is being taken by a committee of museum board members to rebuild the facade of the Frederic Remington Art Museum brick by brick.

“We are hoping to get contributions from every decade of every class from OFA and St. Mary’s Academy from the 1940s on,” said Julie Hackett Cliff, a member of the museum’s board of directors and the chairwoman for the fundraising campaign. “Managing it has been interesting.”

Museum Executive Director Edward A. LaVarnway said the building’s facade is in disrepair and an ongoing capital campaign is nearing the halfway point of its $4 million goal. The Remington Hometown Campaign, as it is being called, will allow the community to “come together to do a really positive thing,” according to Mrs. Cliff.

Custom-built to meet the original bricks’ size and precocity, 24,000 historically accurate, clay-based bricks have been purchased to replace those that have sustained damage over the years, Mr. LaVarnway said. The building has a total of 300,000 bricks, he said, and the number of damaged bricks has yet to be determined. Most of the bricks were damaged thanks to an excessive amount of coating over the years, which caused the bricks to collect moisture.

New bricks are being sold to the public for $25 each.

“Many people are very critical of Ogdensburg. The way I see it, these have been some tough economical times — a tough road for the city,” Mrs. Cliff said. “I’ve thought about the Frederic Remington Art Museum being a cornerstone of the city. As a community and a committee, we need to bring back the Remington one brick at a time.”

While there will be no naming opportunity for those purchasing bricks, Mrs. Cliff said, there will be a book at the museum that will contain the names of those making donations.

“It’ll be a remembrance. All of the money will go to repair the facade of the Remington,” she said.

The group is getting a hand from Ogdensburg City School District art teacher Dianne K. Drayse-Alonso, another museum trustee, and from students in her art club.

“We take on a number of community assignments each year and have worked closely with the Frederic Remington Art Museum,” Ms. Drayse-Alonso said. “Kate Newell, who heads up the capital campaign, asked for our help in creating a visual, so we had a club assignment to come up with a promotional banner.”

Club President Emily R. Baker and Treasurer Jacob C. Skaggs, she said, have stepped up to the plate. Jacob used PhotoShop illustrator to design the banner, and Emily is working hard behind the scenes to perfect and promote it.

“This area is falling apart, and if art is taken away, what will we have left?” asked Emily, who plans a career in anthropology. “Connecting the past to the future is important. We’re looking at trying to bring the history of the museum back to life. This project represents hope.”

While you don’t have to be an Ogdensburg Free Academy graduate to contribute, according to Mrs. Cliff, the committee is working to find a representative of each year’s class from both OFA and St. Mary’s from the 1940s on up. They’re attempting to make as many contacts as possible online and through Facebook, where the group has created a page titled “The Remington Museum Hometown Campaign.” Donations also may be made at the museum’s website, www.fredericremington.org.

“It’s a multi-generational kind of event. In some cases, three generations of local people have come up enjoying the museum. Within each decade, we have people working on each year,” she said.

Establishing contacts and organizing their eras, according to Mrs. Cliff, are Chuck Kelly and Dick Lockwood (1950s), Sandy Bell (1960s), Patricia Mahoney (1970s) and William Hosmer (1990s). Other decades are being handled by committee members.

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