On a cold January day in 1800, a baby boy joined the world inside a modest log cabin in the Finger Lakes region of New York – an area that when, in full bloom, is rich with greenery, trickling brooks and booming waterfalls. This woodland son would become a cloth-maker’s apprentice, a lawyer, a politician and ultimately, the thirteenth president of the United States. President Millard Fillmore and his original domicile are no longer present, but his memory lives on in the form of an accurate replica cabin built 50 years ago in his namesake state park – Fillmore Glen.
Over the spring and summer this year, a group of volunteers from the North & Central New York Building & Construction Trades Council (BCTC) successfully restored a half-century old replica of Fillmore’s quaint boyhood home at the park. The project is part of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) Work Boots on the Ground conservation program and came about from collaborative between the BCTC, the New York State Parks and the USA. The BCTC was looking for a project for which to volunteer, the parks department had a project that needed attention and the USA facilitated.
According to IBEW Local 43 Business Manager Donald Morgan, 22 volunteers worked over the span of the project, logging about 345 man hours.
“We had Roofers, Sheet Metal Workers, Masons, Insulators, guys from (United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters), Electrical Workers … It was team effort for sure,” said Morgan.
The project involved many big jobs. Morgan said the bulk of the work involved re-roofing the old cedar shake roof shingles. The volunteers also replaced the floorboards and floor joints, and they changed out four logs near the bottom of the cabin, which had to be done carefully to keep the integrity of the period-themed structure.
“We really hit a home run,” said Morgan. “It was just what we were hoping for.”
Work Boots on the Ground conservation projects serve multiple purposes. The first to preserve outdoor resources and heritage for generations to come, and the second is to build bridges between unions and the public by putting members in a position to serve the communities around them.
“It’s all about giving back to the community,” said Morgan. “We really appreciate our communities, so we love the chance to give back to them and, and helps us paint a picture of who union members really are.”
The parks department also expressed gratitude: “The Union Sportsmen stepped in, stepped up and really helped us improve the experience for patrons visiting the park,” said Finger Lakes Regional Director Fred Bonn. “The crew tackled the project with enthusiasm, skilled craftsmanship and a great deal of pride.”
For more information on Work Boots on the Ground, please visit https://unionsportsmen.org/conservation/work-boots-on-the-ground.