Meet Gloria Kishton, Longtime Stockade Resident and Schenectady Schenectady Schenectady Champion – The Daily Gazette


When Gloria Kishton moved into the stockade in the 1970s, she immediately began forming lifelong attachments.

It was the neighborhood and its historic homes that first drew her in and never let her go, then she met the man who would become her husband for the next 50 years and more, Bob Lemmerman .

“I met my future husband, who also lived in the stockade, and he really liked it because it reminded him of Germany where he had served in the army,” said Kishton, a Rotterdam native and graduate of Mohonasen High School in 1968. “I had my own apartment and loved the neighborhood vibe. It’s a wonderful place, and if you’re interested in anything, someone will grab you and pull you in. It’s very easy to get involved in things.

Then in Kishton’s life in the stockade there were two other stockade neighbors, Jim Schmitt and Werner Feibes, who not only involved her, but fueled her passion for history and art and painting. took them to another level. Schmitt convinced her to serve on the board of the Schenectady Heritage Foundation just a few years after its inception in 1979, and she has been the group’s president since 2005.

“I was really close with Jim and Werner, and they were really wonderful mentors to me,” Kishton said. “They knew when to rowdy and when not to, and they knew which experts to call when they needed help with something. I once went to listen to Jim give a presentation at the library, and shortly after, he called me and said, “Hey, you need to get involved with the foundation. I had two young children when they first asked me, but gradually I became more involved and then one thing led to another.

Schmitt and Feibes, both now deceased, were two architects and longtime owners of a house on North Ferry Street, who, along with fellow architect Giles Yates Vanderbogart, helped start the Stockade Neighborhood Association six years ago. decades. This effort led to the Stockade being named the first historic district in the state a few years later, but they weren’t made there.

“Jim and Werner came up with the idea of ​​starting a separate group from the Stockade Association to help with preservation projects, and not just in the Stockade,” Kishton said. “There were buildings downtown and across the county that were under threat. This idea of ​​protecting existing structures was quite new to people at the time, and in some ways it went against property rights. It still does, but people are used to it now.

Kishton says there are arguments to be made against preserving any old building, and she’s more than happy to engage in that debate. However, people buying a home in the stockade need to know what they are getting into.

“When someone buys property in a legal historic neighborhood, they seem to like the idea of ​​a nice community and a great neighborhood with great architecture, so if you apply for a demolition permit and you don’t don’t get, you really didn’t have an argument, she said. “You knew in advance what you were buying.”

According to its website, the foundation supports: historic district zoning laws, zoning protections for historic buildings and districts, code enforcement to stop neglectful demolition, preservation and adaptive reuse as tools for economic revitalization and heritage tourism. And, while the Schenectady Heritage Foundation keeps a close watch on what goes up and down in the county, it also helps homeowners make improvements to their property while preserving the past.

The Kishton group also helps homeowners obtain grants to improve a certain aspect of their home, such as the front or a porch. Mary Zawacki, director of the Schenectady County Historical Society, lives in the stockade and is a big supporter of Kishton’s work, which included helping Zawacki get a grant to save a ruined front porch.

“Gloria is a real force behind preservation in the city, and the foundation does essential work to make preservation affordable or even possible for many citizens,” Zawacki said. “I know firsthand how much the foundation impacts the city and am beyond grateful for their work. It is inspiring to see such a positive force for preservation here and a big reason why me and people like me are moving here and staying here.

The Kishton Group and the Schenectady County Historical Society are also working in unison to create new audio walking tours for the Stockade neighborhood. (This historical society’s 58th Palisade Walk will take place next Saturday, September 24, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For ticket information, call 518-374-0263 ext. 5.)

“We value our relationship with the Schenectady Heritage Foundation, and are always happy to work with them on projects and fundraisers,” Zawacki said. “Our missions may be different, but we share a vision of the city’s vitality and spirit, and we’re always looking for ways to make it a special place to live.”

Kishton also draws praise from Stockade owner and neighbor Chris Marney, a town attorney.

“She has such a wonderful commitment to preservation, not just in the stockade, but in the city and the county as a whole,” Marney said. “She always helps people with preservation issues and she has a wealth of knowledge and information in this area. She has files and documentation on just about every property in the palisade you might be interested in.

As president of the Schenectady Heritage Foundation, she has had occasional confrontations with city officials, but never seems to cut ties. Kishton and Metroplex President Ray Gillen have been at odds at times, but they still have a good working relationship.

“We had some differences on some things, and we won some and lost some, but I think it’s great what he’s done for the city and I applaud almost all of his work.” , she said. “The Metroplex intervention helped restart downtown Schenectady when it was downhill, and I think Ray did a fantastic job.”

Gillen is also impressed with Kishton’s work.

“She’s a strong advocate for historic preservation, and I’m glad most of the time we’re on the same side,” Gillen said. “She is very dedicated and focused in her efforts, and the vast majority of the time we work together to restore and renovate very important buildings. She’s a fierce lawyer, and I use that word fierce in the best sense.

A graphic designer by trade, Kishton has always had a passion for the arts, and in her final year at Mohonasen, she won the “Best Artist” award.

“I was born an artist, but being a professional artist wasn’t necessarily something I wanted to be when I was growing up,” Kishton said. “I always wanted to be a doctor, but I went in another direction. I was always asked to design covers for plays and anything high school. Then I went to college at the Pratt Institute and everyone was a fantastic artist. It was a readjustment for me.

His four years in Brooklyn in the late 60s and early 70s were a wonderful experience.

“It was pretty crazy because of the weather, but I got a great education and I can’t say enough about it,” Kishton said. “They were great teachers and gave you a lot of freedom with what you wanted to do creatively. And you had the whole city for inspiration.

Kishton returned home to Schenectady after graduating and found employment at a small art studio on Erie Boulevard. Life was pretty good, and when she was laid off in 1975, it didn’t seem to slow her down at all.

“I had a little apartment in the Stockade, I used to date Bob and we went to Europe for a month, and when we came back, we would hang out at Beef ‘n Brew in Schenectady or head to Saratoga and listen to music. folks,” she said. “I felt bad about losing my job, but I started freelancing as a graphic designer and never looked back.”

Kishton soon married Lemmerman, and the couple bought a house at 207 Union St. where they still live today.

“Community is a great place to live, and when you move in, you can choose to stick with yourself if you want to,” Kishton said. “But we have a lot of people, tenants and landlords, getting involved and making good friends. It’s a great place. A very diverse and unique neighborhood.

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