Government

North Salem's Building Department on the Move

The Annex with Rosemary James and Supervisor Warren Lucas Credits: Sue Guzman

NORTH SALEM, N.Y.-- After more than 11 years working out of a trailer, the North Salem Building Department has a new home.
The department has moved into the fully renovated 1848 town hall building known as the Lobdell store or, as it is referred to coloquially, “The Annex.”
“I realized we had a problem,” Supervisor Warren Lucas said. “You don’t want people sitting forever and ever in a trailer. It was never intended to be its permanent home.” 
Lucas said North Salem had spent more than $80,000 over the years to rent the trailer for the building department’s offices. Recently, it spent about the same amount—$84,000—for repairs, painting and lead abatement at both the Lobdell store and the Lobdell House, a circa 1883 structure. The building department’s employees moved into the refurbished store early last month. 
The Lobdell House contains the offices of the assessor, planning department, town historian, zoning board, receiver of taxes and the department of recreation. Painting, renovations and repairs of that building were not fully complete as of press time. The work is being done by Cornerstone Construction of Yonkers.
“The painting of both of those buildings hasn’t been done in many, many years. I think the last time it was done was in 1994,” said Lucas. 
The Lobdell store’s interior has been entirely updated. It has new foam insulation in the attic space, making it more energy efficient. Heating and flooring has been replaced and upgraded. And all of it was paid for by an anonymous donor who lives in the town, according to Lucas. 
In addition, office space was reconfigured. A new bathroom, new LED lighting and file cabinets were recently intalled.
The Lobdell store was moved twice before it landed at its current location. Lucas said it was a country store and a post office for many years. It was sold to the town and was used for office space in the 1970s, before it moved to its current location on Titicus Road in 1995. It also served as the town’s courtroom, meeting house and police headquarters before those offices were moved to 66 June Road, the site of the town’s former highway garage. 
Lucas noted that in addition to being the new home of the building department, the former Lobdell store houses all of the town’s records in a specially protected subbasement vault. 
North Salem Town Historian Susan Thompson said the Lobdell store was probably built around 1848. It served as the C. Stevens Store until it was acquired by Anson Lobdell in 1866. The building originally stood across from Delancey Hall on the Titicus River at the end of a row of businesses and mills, all of which moved or were destroyed in 1893.
“Albert Lobdell took over the store and post office when his father died in 1872. Lobdell children clerked in the store and daughter Cornelia followed her father’s footsteps as postmistress there until 1950,” Thompson said. 
North Salem Building Inspector Paul Taft is pleased with the new space.
“Our new office is just so fitting,” he said. “The layout is working very nicely and we are especially enjoying the increased natural light and air circulation.”
Building Department Office Assistant Rosemary James also couldn’t be happier.
“The trailer was cold in the winter and hot in the summer,” she said. “We had to make coffee in the bathroom because that’s where the refrigerator was.”  
Looking back on his five previous years serving as assistant building inspector and working out of the trailer, Taft was grateful for the upgrade.
“I must say, now that we have moved into the new office, I now realize the tight quarters that we were in. It’s great to have the trailer behind us. Once it is removed from the site, that will be even better,” he said. 

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