Strategic Plan 2019-2021

1.Introduction

This three-year strategic plan was developed by Stephen Cernek in consultation with the Board of the Hudson River Mill Museum.  It seeks to advance the Museum beyond its organizational phase of 2016-2018, through the period 2019-2021.  

2. History of the Organization

The Hudson River Mill Museum grew out of the Hudson River Mill Project that was created by Stephen Cernek following the closure of the Hudson River Mill in 2002 after 133-years of continuous operation.  The Project’s goal was to research the history of the Mill, collect relevant documents and photographs, and to share the findings with the public through lectures, publications and interpretive websites.

Following the demolition of the Hudson River Mill in 2012, International Paper gifted its original corporate office building – constructed at the Hudson River Mill in 1905 - to the Town of Corinth. Stephen Cernek was contracted by the Town in 2016 to develop a museum with the goal that it be housed in the building. The Hudson River Mill was chartered by New York State in 2017 and was registered by the IRS as 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in 2018. 

The Museum plans to occupy International Paper’s former office building at 17 Pine Street in Corinth. The building, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017, is presently being studied by a preservation architect with funding provided by the Preservation League of New York and the Town of Corinth.  The Museum plans to restore the building and to repurpose it for museum use.   

3. Mission Statement and Vision Statement

Mission Statement

The Hudson River Mill Museum inspires Corinth, New York area residents and seasonal visitors to explore the history of pulp and paper manufacturing in northern New York State, the development of organized labor in the industry, and paper making’s environmental impact on the Hudson River and the Adirondack region 

Vision

Central to the vision of the Hudson River Mill Museum will be its location within International Paper’s original corporate headquarters, a structure built in 1905 that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  We plan to restore the building to as much of its original condition and design as possible, and to use the former Director’s Room on the second level to reproduce a typical executive office from the early 20thcentury.  We also envision a partial restoration of the Time Office on the lower level where workers punched their daily time cards and received their weekly pay. We anticipate that both the lower and upper floor will house interpretive exhibits.

We also see the Museum becoming an important public institution in Corinth that will both explain the history of pulp and paper manufacturing at Palmer Falls and demonstrate its role in shaping the social and economic development of Corinth and the local region.  We envision the Museum as providing an exciting and engaging destination for local residents and seasonal visitors to increase their understanding and appreciation of the Hudson River and the Adirondacks as environmental factors in the history of the paper industry in upstate New York.

4. Strategic Goals

4.1. Education/Exhibits

Permanent exhibits cannot be planned and installed in the former IP building until at least one floor is restored and readied for visitation. Exhibitions whose content can be set up, exhibited, and then stored for later use will, however, be developed and presented in the building on a temporary basis over the next three years.  The Museum will most likely make an investment in gallery-quality exhibition panels for the initial display that can be knocked down and reused for subsequent exhibits.

Opening 2020:  The Adirondacks, the Hudson River and the Birth of the Modern Paper Industry

This exhibit will explain how the development of the mechanical wood grinder for the manufacture of paper pulp resulted in the relocation of the paper industry from the Berkshires 

to the Adirondacks in the 1860s.  The region provided abundant forests and the substantial water power that was needed to power the grinders, and with a newly constructed railroad the opportunity for the scale-up pulp and paper production was in place.  The exhibit will also consider the environmental impacts of the industry on Adirondack forests and the Hudson River watershed.

Planning for this exhibit is underway.  We plan to seek a Vision Grant from Humanities NY to convene several individuals to discuss potential contents of the exhibit, including a representative of the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake and a New York City-based exhibition designer.  We will seek the necessary funding beginning in Fall 2019, Following the completion of exhibition schematics.

Opening 2020 (Online):  Worker and Family Narratives from the Hudson River Mill

This online exhibit will feature oral history interviews with former Hudson River Mill workers and family members who will share memories of work at the mill and domestic life in Corinth when paper making was a central social and economic force in Corinth.

Planning for this exhibit will begin soon with a group of Corinth Central School teachers and community volunteers who will complete training in oral history techniques in a workshop provided by Columbia University.  Some interviews will be conducted in summer 2019, but in the Fall Corinth students will be trained to conduct interviews which we anticipate will be completed by the end of 2109.  Interviews will be edited in early 2020 and posted to the museum’s website in the spring. 

Opening 2021:  The Hudson River Pulp and Paper Company 1869-1898

This exhibit will trace the development of Hudson River Pulp and Paper from its incorporation in 1869 to its recognition as the largest pulp and paper mill in the United States by the 1890s. The exhibit will explain the principles of the two technologies central to the Company’s success - the mechanical wood grinder and the Fourdrinier paper machine – and how both pulp production and paper manufacturing were scaled-up at the Hudson River Mill over a thirty-year period through a combination of judicious management and consistent innovation.

Opening 2021:  The Paper Strikes of 1910 and 1921

This exhibit will trace the development of organized labor in the pulp and paper industry from its origins in the 1890s, to its rapid growth in the 1910s when it secured contracts with the largest paper companies, to its decline in the 1920s from the corporate adoption of the American Plan, and then it resurgence in 1937 when Federal legislation was passed guaranteeing the right of workers to organize.  The strong labor movement present in Corinth during the early decades of the 20thcentury, which was evident in the Strikes of 1910 and 1921 when paper workers at the Hudson River Mill played a critical role, will be central to this exhibit. 

4.1.2 Education/Presentations

The Museum will offer programming in the IP building during the warmer months of the year to include several of the presentations that have been developed over the past several years by Stephen Cernek, plus potential guest lectures by persons who can offer subject matter related to the Museum’s mission.  These will be fee-based programs but will offered free to museum members. From time to time one or more presentations will be offered to the Corinth Schools and to area libraries and historical societies without cost. Some presentation content will also be made available on the Museum’s website.

4.1.3 Education/Tours

A. An area tour that was developed by Stephen Cernek for Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) will be adopted and modified for use by the Museum to serve as one of its programming options.  This five-hour car-pool tour shows how the upper Hudson River was developed for the manufacture of pulp and paper and for hydroelectric production. Given that AARCH received $35 from members and $45 for non-members, this tour will become a fee-based offering by the Museum.

B. The recent installation of three historic interpretive panels along the Hudson River in the Village of Corinth - with a fourth expected by May 2019 - will serve as the basis for a 0.8-mile walking tour from the Corinth Library to Pagenstecher Park which Stephen Cernek led twice in the Fall of 2018 as part of a grant received by Humanities NY. The tours were free to the public by virtue of the Humanities NY grant, but the Museum should be able to charge $8-10 to non-members of the Museum for this 90-minute program.

C. A hiking tour is being developed by William Clarke, a member of the Museum Board, along a trail in Moreau State Park that leads to an overlook of the Spier Falls Dam. This fee-based guided hike will include a discussion of the building of the dam in 1903 which became nationally known for its size and its hydroelectric production.

4.2. Administration

The Board will create the position of a part-time Executive Director in 2019 with the responsibility for exhibit and program development, fundraising, marketing and communications, collection development and managing the consultants and vendors who may be retained to contribute to the restoration of the IP building or for the creating of Museum exhibits.  We anticipate that this position will remain part-time through 2021.

4.3. Collections Development

The Museum presently does not have any collections, other than the engineering drawings, photographs and periodicals left behind by International Paper. Collections development for use in future exhibitions will be a critical function of the Museum. While the Museum is currently not prepared to provide cataloging and archival storage in the IP building, this limitation must be weighed against concern for the loss of valuable artifacts should the implementation of a collections development effort be delayed.  

Engineering materials and other forms of documentation that were left behind by International Paper are housed in forty-three, 4-drawer file cabinets. These items represent valuable and unique documents of nearly 100 years of building expansion, machine installation and repair, and all forms of mechanical and electrical modifications made at the Hudson River Mill.  The Museum plans to seek a grant from Documentary Heritage and Preservation Services for New York to have the collection evaluated. 

4.4. Development

A.  Memberships are very important to most Museums, providing up to one-third of their operating expenses.  A membership plan will be rolled out in 2019.

B.  An Annual Fund campaign provides the opportunity for individuals and corporations to contribute annually to the general operating expenses of an institution. While fundraising that began early in 2019 has not been labeled a capital campaign, the Museum has raised $20,250 to date in unrestricted funds from International Paper, Atlantic Power Corporation and Saratoga National Bank.  The appeal for unrestricted funds to large and mid-size corporation with a Corinth presence, and to well-established community companies, will continue through 2019. 

C. Project-Specific Fundraising 

The Museum is presently being developed along two parallel tracks: 1) restoring the IP building and preparing it for visitation and 2) developing educational exhibits that will carry out the Museum’s mission.  Perhaps as much a $2,000,000 will be required over the next 3-5 years to complete both building restoration and Museum exhibition installation.

Fundraising for building conservation like mitigating water damage could begin in the summer of 2019 pending visual inspection of the roof and chimney. The completion of a limited Building Condition Study by Preservation Architecture under a grant provided by the Preservation League of New York has documented many of the existing conditions in the building and provided a preliminary plan for the building’s reuse.  A second grant recently submitted to the League would fund a complete conditions study and would identify everything that would be required to restore the restructure and make it museum-ready. The Museum will be informed in June of the status of this grant application.

Planning for building restoration beyond the immediate mitigation of water damage could have to wait until a complete building conditions study report is issued in 2020, provided that Preserve New York approves and funds our recent application. However, Preservation Architecture may be able to identify partial restoration projects for which funding can be sought in 2019.

The Museum should be able to make some progress towards non-structural building restoration in the near term.  A likely first step would be the removal on the upper floor of its temporary office walls, the white paint from painted oak doors, windows and wainscoting, its purple and flowered wall paper, and its suspended ceiling.  This work, which could be accomplished with volunteers or with donated professional labor, will be completed by spring 2020 so that the first temporary Museum exhibited can be placed on the upper level.  

Funders willing to support the substantial costs associated with the research, design, fabrication and installation of proposed exhibits will have to be identified.  Initial-stage exhibit funding can come from the receipt of a Vision Grant from Humanities NY which provides $1500 towards the cost of holding planning meetings.   Following the submission of the Vision grant report, the Museum would be eligible for an Action Grant from Humanities NY of up to $5000 to be used towards the exhibit. Saratoga Arts is also a potential source of small grant to support the exhibition.

Given that each completed permanent museum exhibit might cost as much as $100,000, large donations from foundations and corporations will also have to be secured. 

D. Public Relations 

The Museum Board has formed a Community Relations Committee consisting of members who live in or near Corinth. We expect that the Committee will represent the Museum within the Corinth community in a positive way and view its citizens as stakeholders in the Museum, seeking to learn from them how the Museum might serve community interests beyond the institution’s mission. 

E.  Marketing

The Museum is planning to launch its own website in the spring of 2019 that will augment its Facebook page by communicating its mission, sharing historical information and photographs, promoting events and activities, and providing a means for individuals to make a financial contribution.  The website will help the Museum forge a distinctive online identity that is not possible through Facebook which presently has 580 followers.

A “rack card” is being developed to be distributed during the summer of 2019 to provide a means to reach the area’s seasonal visitors and introduce them to the Museum, its mission and the activities it offers.  The 4” x 8” card will describe the Museum and its mission, list events scheduled for 2019, provide the Museum’s website address, and invite people to become members.

Plans are being made to market the Museum’s activities through the Empire State Development’s I LOVE NEW YORK initiative by posting Museum events on its PATH THROUGH HISTORY website and by scheduling Museum events on their two special weekends in June and October 2019. Such listings will provide state-wide exposure for the Museum.

We have also reached out to Saratoga County’s Tourism Promotion Agent (the Saratoga Country Chamber of Commerce) to help us promote our scheduled events.  The Agent is part of Empire State Development’s I LOVE NEW YORK marketing program. They have invited us to post events to their website and to place our rack card at their visitor center.

4.5. Building/Grounds Preservation 

The current plan is for the Museum to lease the IP building from the Town of Corinth.  Central to the lease terms will be the parties to be responsible for maintaining the structure and its grounds.  This element of the current plan is evolving. 

5. Evaluation

The Museum’s Board has the responsibility for evaluating the progress of each institutional goals listed in the Strategic Plan’s and to revise them as necessary on an annual basis, based on the semi-annual reports provided by the Executive Director.   

6. Implementation Schedule

The following lists prioritizes Museum goals described in this Plan.

• Organize the Board’s Community Relations Committee

• Create and approve the job description for the job of Executive Director

• Develop a Museum website with online donation capability

• Develop a Museum membership plan

• Complete a building lease with the Town of Corinth

• Develop local fundraising events for 2019

• Create a schedule of Museum presentations and walking tours for 2019

• Create and produce a Museum “rack card” for local distribution 

• Place activity and tour dates on the NYS Path Through History website

• Place activity and tour dates on the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce website

• Coordinate the inspection of the IP building roof and attic 

• Schedule training for oral history interviewers

• Submit a Vision Grant Application to Humanities NY for the “Adirondack” exhibit

• Execute the lectures and walking tours scheduled for 2019

• Submit an Action Grant to Humanities NY for the “Adirondack” exhibit

• Submit a grant to Saratoga Arts for support in developing the “Adirondack” exhibit

• Identity additional donors for the “Adirondack” exhibit

7. Task Lists

Task lists typically assign Museum projects to quarters throughout the year. This component of the strategic plan would seemingly be more appropriate to a later development period. 

8. Action Plans

This section would provide exacting details for each Museum project to include the strategic goal addressed, solutions, action steps budgets, deadlines, responsible parties, costs and outcome measurements. This component of the strategic plan would also seem more appropriate for a later stage of museum development.