June 2016 20 Questions: Rande S. Richardson, NNY Community Foundation

Giving for a greater good

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Rande S. Richardson, executive director of the Northern New York Community Foundation, at the future home of the foundation and the new Northern New York Philanthropy Center, 131 Washington St. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

NNY Community Foundation plans Philanthropy Center, expanded mission

For nearly 87 years, the Northern New York Community Foundation has worked to strengthen communities across Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties by investing in efforts to improve the quality of life for all who live, work and play in the north country. Next year, the community foundation will move its offices to a historically renovated building that formerly housed the Black River Valley Club in the heart of downtown Watertown. The move will also open the doors to the Northern New York Philanthropy Center, a new endeavor for the community foundation that aims to put philanthropy within reach of everyday people. This month, we sit down with Rande S. Richardson, executive director of the community foundation since 2009, to learn more about the foundation’s mission and how it continues to serve north country residents. [Read more…]

Community Foundation eyes former Black River Valley Club building

WATERTOWN — After less than two months on the market, the building that once housed the Black River Valley Club might once again have a promising future.

The Northern New York Community Foundation announced Wednesday that it is “actively exploring” the 110-year-old building as a potential site for a nonprofit resource center. [Read more…]

Black River Valley Club to close permanently

 

WATERTOWN — Leaders of the Black River Valley Club have decided to shut down the organization after they couldn’t secure a viable financial future for it.

The club’s board of directors voted Wednesday night to dissolve the corporation, according to a news release, and the Washington Street club has closed permanently. [Read more…]

Black River Valley Club plans to reinvent building with rental apartments

Rental apartments have been proposed for the underused upper floors of the Black River Valley Club on Washington Street in Watertown. Justin Sorensen / NNY Business

Rental apartments have been proposed for the underused upper floors of the Black River Valley Club on Washington Street in Watertown. Justin Sorensen / NNY Business

The Black River Valley Club plans to create rental apartments on the under-used upper floors of its historic downtown building, in a venture with Purcell Construction Co. that will be introduced to club members tonight.

In a recent letter to its membership, the club announced its plan to form a partnership with the Watertown construction company, which would build market-rate apartments on the second and third floors of the 131 Washington St. building.

The club’s operations would be consolidated on the ground floor, which would be dedicated to club member use under the plan, said Paul A. Luck, president of the club’s board of governors. The floor would be renovated to include a new kitchen, event space and dining and meeting rooms. The historic character of the club’s grand foyer and entranceway would remain the same. [Read more…]

Watertown’s Black River Valley Club adopts new membership structure to lure young professionals

Recent changes at the Black River Valley Club include a new membership fee structure to attract young professionals and a discount on menu prices Thursday evenings for members, who previously ate free on those nights.

On “member’s night” Thursdays, a long-standing tradition at the 131 Washington St. club, members will receive discounts of about 50 percent on menu items because the club no longer can afford to offer the free meals, said manager David F. Boucher. The discounted price structure will be featured at a membership drive at 5 p.m. Sept. 12 at the club. Free dinner will be offered to prospective members at that event.

Approved by the board of directors in July, the changes come at a time when the club is trying to increase revenue to maintain its 108-year-old, three-story building, Mr. Boucher said. [Read more…]

Bernier, Carr & Associates Annual Children’s Gift and Fund Drive – December 2012 at Black River Valley Club

15th Annual Zoo-to-Do Autumn Gala – November 2012 at Black River Valley Club

Fireball Run Adventurally Reception – Sept. 25 at Black River Valley Club

Social club perseveres: Black River Valley Club a longtime symbol of Watertown’s history

The present Black River Valley Club building, to the far right, as it looked in 1910, approximately five years after its construction.

By Lenka Walldroff
Jefferson County Historical Society

Watertown was an affluent city during the late 1800s. Its citizens included wealthy business owners, industrial barons and bankers, granting it the distinction of having the highest number of millionaires per capita in the United States – fertile ground for a private social club. It is during this period that the Black River Valley Club was born.

However, the club was not always known as such. What was originally the Union Club was organized in Watertown in 1876 and incorporated in 1891. The name was changed to the Kamargo Club for a brief time and finally the Black River Valley Club in January 1905. Although few surviving records having to do with the original Union Club exist, given the socio-economic status of Watertown during the 1880s, one cannot help but speculate that Watertown’s Union Club might have in some way been associated with the prestigious Union Club in New York City – the second oldest private club in the United States dating back to 1836.

[Read more…]