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Restoration of 19th century bank site expected to be finished by year's end

The "Bold New Project" capital campaign to restore a historic bank building to its original appearance is nearing completion.

The Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council assumed ownership of the former Batavia Club in 2002, aware that the 177-year-old, two-story brick structure needed extensive repairs.

Work on 300,000 exterior and interior improvements began in August, and officials say the two-phase project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The GO-ART Cultural Center -- recently named Seymour Place to honor a Batavia couple for their support -- received a $150,000 grant from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Corporate pledges and personal contributions also helped the campaign, which will cost more than $600,000. Currently completed are a new roof and extensive interior work.

Exterior renovations -- including a new stoop, window repairs and restoring and painting wood trim -- must meet strict requirements because of the building's historic designation. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Built in 1831 as the first bank west of the Genesee River, the Federal-style structure became a private club in 1886. Declining membership forced the Batavia Club to close in 2002, and the building was donated to GO-ART.

The main dining room is now an art gallery, and the second floor houses offices for local cultural organizations.

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