A cultural tourist attraction in East Aurora has reopened one of its longtime structures, ending a $465,000 restoration project. A ceremonial ribbon was cut Wednesday outside the Copper Shop building on the Roycroft Campus.
The Copper Shop building was first built in 1902 as the Roycroft Campus blacksmith shop. Through its history, it housed other metalworking and also maple syrup and maple candy production. After several ownership changes it reopened in the 1970s as an artisan gallery then expanded in the 2000s under the Roycroft Campus Corporation.
When the doors were reopened to the public Wednesday, Roycroft Campus Corporation executive director Curt Maranto explained to guests the changes they'd notice.
"The front room has been fully restored. One of the great things we found as we were doing the restoration of the blacksmith shop area, when we removed the floors we actually found the original floors about one and a half feet below grade," he said. "When you walk into the shop, you're going to see three wooden sections set into the floor. Those are removeable so you can see the original floor."
The Copper Shop will now be used as an art and gift shop for the East Aurora attraction.
New York State and Erie County both invested public dollars into the renovation project. Leaders from both levels of government say it's in recognition of the importance of the Roycroft Campus as a cultural and tourism asset.
"Elbert Hubbard once said business, to be successful, must be based on science, for demand and supply are matters of mathematics, not guesswork," said Angela Rossi, representing Empire State Development. "That is the job of Empire State Development, to do the math, add up the benefits and recognize and support the projects that will help stoke the economic engine of not only the community but of the region as a whole."
New York State also previously invested in the restoration of the former Roycroft Campus power house, which was completed in 2012. That building is now a visitor center, administrative office, meeting and education space and an art gallery.
The Roycroft Campus was first established by Elbert Hubbard in 1897, inspired by the English Arts and Crafts Movement, as a self-contained community where hundreds of various craftspeople worked.
According to Rossi, visitors spend more than $67 billion dollars in New York State each year and there's a growing demand for historic architecture to visit.