Burst pipe leaves Pratt House with extensive water damage

Pratt House Display Manager Alec Seymour points out one of the many areas of flooring in need of complete replacement after a burst pipe recently left the museum with extensive water damage.  Colin Hogan photo
Pratt House Display Manager Alec Seymour points out one of the many areas of flooring in need of complete replacement after a burst pipe recently left the museum with extensive water damage.
Colin Hogan photo

The John Wells Pratt House, one of Fulton’s most revered historic sites and the home of countless archived local relics, is recovering from extensive water damage after a pipe recently burst inside.

Leaders of Friends of History in Fulton, which runs the museum, say they believe the pipe bust sometime Saturday, Nov. 22, and the flooding was discovered the following Monday.

According to Pratt House Director Sue Lane, a valve in the building’s water heater that governs how much water to send throughout the system malfunctioned, over-pressurizing the pipes and radiators on the upper floors to the point that some burst.

“We basically had a swimming pool on half of the second floor,” she said.

But it could have been a lot worse, Lane is quick to point out. The flooding was discovered Monday by the museum’s cleaning lady, who had actually come in a day early to do her work.

“It’s like these things happen for a reason. The lady who does our cleaning wasn’t scheduled to come in, but came in anyway, and she was the one who caught it,” Lane said. “She saw the ceilings and the walls running with water, so she called me right away. When I got there I started calling everybody and their brother to come get started with mops, buckets, shop vacs or whatever we could use.”

After volunteers got the situation under control, professionals were brought in to begin the cleaning and recovery process.

The flooding has left several rooms in need of serious restoration. Walls, ceilings and floors throughout the museum, including those in the exhibit rooms, will need to be completely removed, cleaned inside, and replaced. In such an old historic building, Lane is certain it will be a complicated process that requires special workmanship and attention to detail.

“It’s hard because, we don’t want to change anything, but we have so much that needs to be replaced now. We have ceilings that need to be redone, walls that need to be stripped down and put back up, all the wood floors upstairs are going to have to be pulled up and replaced because they’re completely ruined,” Lane said, “so we’re going to need find a special carpenter who’s worked with old houses and knows how these things need to be done.”

Among the hundreds of items damaged are relics from Fulton’s old factories, antiquated newspaper clippings, photographs and volumes of historic documents, to name only some. The water also damaged an entire room full of historic clothing items, which FOH is working with a Syracuse-based dry cleaner to have restored.

However, in a seemingly miraculous stroke of good luck, none of the flooding reached the rooms that currently house the 18 decorated Christmas trees on display for the organization’s annual Parade of Trees. Lane said this year’s event, which will continue to run in spite of the damages, marks the most trees the museum has ever had on display.

“The one bright note is that the water didn’t touch any of the trees for the Parade of Trees, and we were able to do enough cleaning that it won’t interfere with that,” Lane said. “It was kind of like Mrs. Pratt put her hand out and said ‘you can ruin this side of the house, but not this side.'”

Despite the mess, FOH leaders are still counting their blessings that there wasn’t more damage.

“I keep saying, while it’s certainly bad, it could have been a lot worse,” Lane said.

The Parade of Trees continues until Friday. Lane said she plans to wait until it’s finished to begin holding fundraisers or other events to help with the restoration.

“With all that’s happened, we’re trying to make the Parade of Trees a priority. The organizations that do the trees have done such a wonderful job, and this is the most we’ve ever had. So even though all this is going on, we certainly don’t want to take away from all of their hard work. We’re going to be positively focused on the Parade of Trees for now, then get focused on the house.”

The museum can be found on S. First Street in Fulton, and has been on the National Register of Historic Places for 15 years.

Jean Ann (Myers) Berger

Jean Ann (Myers/Pickett) Berger, 81, of Pompano Beach, Fla., passed away on October 25, 2014.  She was born on October 6, 1933 to the late Jewett and Georgiana (Keyes) Myers.

Jean was raised in Fulton, N.Y., attended Green Mountain College and Emerson College and worked as a speech therapist in Albany, N.Y. She married Kenneth Pickett in 1957, had four children and moved to Millburn, N.J.   

Widowed at 34, Jean married Herman Berger in 1972. Together they ran a wholesale jewelry business. Jean moved to Pompano Beach in 1981 where she was a small business owner and sales rep.   

Jean maintained many friendships from all stages of her life, and mostly enjoyed spending time with them and her family. She will be remembered for her upbeat positive attitude, and “joie de vivre.”

Jean is survived by her four children and their spouses, James (Beth) Pickett of Mountain Lakes, N.J., Jana Liuzzi of Fort Myers, Fla., Kenneth (Lisa) Pickett of New York, N.Y., and Jennifer (Ron) Morales of Hillsdale, N.Y.; two stepchildren Peggy Slinger and James (Patti) Berger; and nine grandchildren Zachary, Kenneth, Matthew, Sarah, Dina, Thomas, Emily, Catherine, and Michael.

A memorial service will be held for Jean at 4 p.m. on December 6, 2014 at the Community Church of Mountain Lakes, 48 Briarcliff Road, Mountain Lakes, N.J. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Women in Distress of Broward County.

Albert Wygant

Albert Wygant, 88, of Oswego died Monday December 1, 2014 in University Hospital, Syracuse. He was born in Oswego the son of the late Scott and Maude (Richmond) Wygant. He was predeceased by his son Michael Wygant in 2009. Mr. Wygant worked as a furnace technician for Babcock Oil, Fulton, in addition he also worked at Nestle’s Fulton and General Electric in Syracuse. Mr. Wygant served in the United States Navy during World War II. Mr. Wygant was a member of the Barbershop Society, and St. Mary’s Men’s Choir for 16 years. He is survived by his wife of 63 years Ruth Wygant of Oswego, and their children Susan (Donald) Crofoot of Martville, Diane (David) Ferris of Oswego, Peggy (Roderick) Longo of Phoenix, Steven (Nancy) Wygant of Oswego, his sisters Pearl Babiarz of Fulton, Ruth Ketchen of Syracuse and grandchildren Wendy, Christina, Shawn, Jeremy, Sara, Brad, and great-grandchildren Catherine, Dalton, Ethan, and Nicholas. A Memorial Mass will be held in the spring of 2015. The arrangements are in the care of the Sugar & Scanlon Funeral Home, 147 W. 4th. St. Oswego.

Dale R. Emmons

Dale R. Emmons, 56, of Hannibal, passed away Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Florida Hospital in Zephyrhills, Fla.

Dale was born in Fulton to the late Myrle and Bessie (Crouch) Emmons. He worked at the Nestle Corporation for 26 years as a machine operator.

Dale spent many years working on various race teams at the Oswego Speedway, and was also an avid NASCAR fan.

He is survived by his wife of 31 years, Dawn (Barney) Emmons, of Hannibal; three daughters, Constance (Jared) Pritchard, of Hannibal; Stephanie Emmons, of Sterling; and Catherine Emmons, of Hannibal; two grandchildren, Curtis and Annabelle Pritchard, of Hannibal; two brothers, Gary Emmons, of Houston, Texas, and Albert Emmons of Hannibal; and several nieces and nephews.

A Memorial Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Cayuga Street, Hannibal.

James D. Raney         

James D. Raney, 44, of Oswego died Thursday November 27, 2014 in University Hospital. He was born in Athens, Al., the son of the late William and Ruby (Davis) Raney. James has been a resident of Oswego for the past five years. He was a former member of the Order of the Masons in Mexico, N.Y., and he always enjoyed playing a joke and making people laugh. In addition to being predeceased by his parents he was predeceased by his sister Pamela Minnick. James is survived by his wife Kathleen Raney of Oswego; children Brittany, Ashley, and Sean Raney, all of Alabama; and his stepchildren Shawn, Mark, Brandon, and Tyler Washer, all of Oswego; his brothers Frankie and William Raney, and sisters Davie Smith and Sarah Higginbotham; and grandson Braydon and step grandchildren Emily and Sophia. Calling hours were Wednesday at the Sugar & Scanlon Funeral Home, 147 W. 4th. St. Oswego.

Judson L. Oot

Judson L. Oot, 35, of Sterling, passed away unexpectedly Wednesday, November 26 at his home. Born in Oswego, N.Y., June 20, 1979, he spent the majority of his life in the Martville, N.Y. area and a few years in Ira, N.Y., and had attended Hannibal and Cato high schools. For a very proud but brief time he was a member of the Ira Fire Department.Oot OB

Judson always said he learned everything about “wrenching” from his dad when he was a young boy. He had been employed over the years with several automotive service companies, starting at age 13 at Baker auto parts yard in Red Creek and was able to fix anything with a motor. Even worked for John Deere in Florida.

After a serious accident in 2007 in Florida left him with a TBI, he started his own small engine service. Known for a kind heart, he was always willing to help those in need.

Surviving are his partner and soulmate Barbara Hadcock of Sterling; his parents James and Juanita Oot of Ira, N.Y.; one brother, James Oot II of Ira, N.Y.; two nephews, Jacob and Cilas Oot of Ira, N.Y.; three uncles, Richard Oot of Albuquerque, N.M., Guy Osborn of Fla., and Roger Osborn of North Carolina; two aunts, Doris Mansfeld of Decator, Alabama and Lori Landford of Texas; many cousins, and some very best friends, Tom, Eric, Donny and Steve.

He was predeceased by his paternal grandparents, William and Frances Oot, and maternal grandparents, Guy and Virginia Osborn and an uncle, Dale Osborn.

Calling hours and a memorial services were Wednesday at Foster Funeral Home, 837 Cayuga St., Hannibal.

Doris S. Perkins

Perkins OBDoris S. Perkins, 68, of Hannibal, passed away on Wednesday, November 26, 2014 at home. She was born March 2, 1946, a daughter to the late Norman H. and Laura A. Beckley Starr. Along with her parents, Doris was predeceased by her husband, Timothy in 2013, two sisters, Arlene VanVorst and Rose Hammond and one brother, Robert Starr.

She is survived by her four children, Norman Merrill of Hannibal, Maxine Merrill-Hines of Fulton, Raymond Merrill of Volney and Michael Merrill of Hannibal; several grandchildren and great-grandchildren; one sister, Maxine (Tom Blowers) Barrett of Oneida; brother-in-law Paul (Marge) Goodwell of Williamson and as well as several nieces and nephews.

Calling hours and a funeral service were held Thursday at Foster Funeral Home, 910 Fay St. Fulton.

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