Clarkson University and Vecino Group development honored with New York State Preservation Award for work on Old Snell Hall

January 6, 2023
Bruce Potekhen, Site Supervisor, Kelly Chezum, NYS Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid
Bruce Potekhen, Site Supervisor, Kelly Chezum, NYS Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid

On December 8th at a ceremony in Albany, NY Clarkson University and the Vecino Group were awarded a 2022 New York State Preservation Award for their work on Old Snell Hall in downtown Potsdam, NY.

The national affordable and supportive housing developer, along with partners the Village of Potsdam and Clarkson University, spent more than four years rescuing the 103-year-old former campus building to redevelop and serve its community as affordable housing and arts-driven programming.

“It was clear from our very first discussion how important of a fixture Old Snell was—and is—for Potsdam,” said Rick Manzardo, President of the Vecino Group, “but also how much more it could offer the community.”

Chosen each year by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, the awards recognize excellence in preservation and rejuvenation of New York’s historic and cultural resources. Old Snell is one of ten historic developments Statewide to receive this recognition. In attendance to receive the award were Rob Holzman, Vice President of Planning and Acquisition, Vecino Group; Bruce Potekhen, Superintendent, Vecino Construction and Kelly Chezum, Vice President External Relations, Clarkson University.

“This award captures the spirit and vision the University had when it partnered with the Vecino Group and Potsdam community for an impactful reuse of a former academic and administration building that many Clarkson alumni and employees remember fondly.  Clarkson appreciates the recognition by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul and NYS Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid for the renovations of Old Snell Hall to serve our community while preserving a wonderful part of its history,” said Kelly Chezum, VP for External Relations for Clarkson University.

“This highly visible reinvestment project in the heart of Potsdam adopted a successful historic preservation model and breathed life into an underutilized community resource” said Erik Kulleseid, Commissioner New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation.

This award underscores the importance preservation through redevelopment toward serving a greater community need – and is the very heart of the Vecino Group mission.  Now operating as The Quarry—named for the famous, locally-sourced sandstone used as its structure—the newly renovated building provides 59 apartments for people living at or below 70% of the area’s median income as well as a library, a community room and fitness center. The first floor provides community connection via flexible programming areas for Clarkson University as well as additional community-centered spaces such as a gallery, art studios and the completely restored auditorium.

“Developments like this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the entire community: the Village of Potsdam, Clarkson University as well as Saint Lawrence County and State partnerships,” said Holzman.

Manzardo agrees. “Partnerships make the difference. We thank the State Historic Preservation Office for this honor and share it with all of Potsdam. To bring back this historic building and see the continued success of the residents of Potsdam is truly what makes the effort worthwhile.”

As a private, national research university, Clarkson is a leader in technological education and sustainable economic development through teaching, scholarship, research and innovation. We ignite personal connections across academic fields and industries to create the entrepreneurial mindset, knowledge and intellectual curiosity needed to innovate world-relevant solutions and cultivate the leaders of tomorrow. With its main campus located in Potsdam, N.Y., and additional graduate program and research facilities in the New York Capital Region, Beacon, N.Y., and New York City, Clarkson educates 4,000+ students across 95 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, the arts, education, sciences and health professions. Our alumni earn salaries that are among the top 2% in the nation and realize accelerated career growth. One in five already leads as a CEO, senior executive or owner of a company. To learn more about Clarkson University, go to
Photograph for media use is available at: