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S05570 Summary:

Add 5-c, Pub Bldg L
Directs the office of general services to install and maintain a commemorative plaque in the capitol honoring Samuel J. Abbott.
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S05570 Actions:

05/16/20171ST REPORT CAL.1013
05/17/20172ND REPORT CAL.
06/14/2017referred to governmental operations
06/19/2017substituted for a7731
06/19/2017ordered to third reading rules cal.447
06/19/2017passed assembly
06/19/2017returned to senate
07/25/2017SIGNED CHAP.104
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S05570 Memo:

Memo not available
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S05570 Text:

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                               2017-2018 Regular Sessions
                    IN SENATE
                                     April 13, 2017
        Introduced  by  Sen.  YOUNG  -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
          printed to be committed to the Committee on Investigations and Govern-
          ment Operations
        AN ACT to amend the public buildings law, in relation to  directing  the
          office  of  general  services  to install and maintain a commemorative
          plaque in the Capitol honoring Samuel J. Abbott

          The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and  Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
     1    Section  1. Legislative findings. The legislature hereby finds that at
     2  2:42 a.m., on March 29, 1911, Fire Box 324  was  pulled,  notifying  the
     3  City  of Albany Fire Department of a fire at the State Capitol. Investi-
     4  gators would later determine that the fire originated in the third-floor
     5  Assembly Library, spreading  quickly  to  the  adjacent  State  Library,
     6  before  engulfing  the  building's fourth and fifth floors. According to
     7  reports, the building, known at the time as "one of the most costly  and
     8  celebrated  buildings  constructed  in  19th-century  America", had been
     9  burning without impediment for at least  thirty  minutes  prior  to  the
    10  alarm.   Firefighters, operating with horse-drawn pumpers, found a roar-
    11  ing inferno when they arrived on scene.
    12    The mammoth fire burned so forcefully that it twisted metal framing in
    13  the iconic skylight above the Great Western Staircase, sending the glass
    14  panels raining down on the stairs below; the stairway's carved sandstone
    15  filigree melted, and at  the  top  of  the  "Million-Dollar  Staircase",
    16  prized   archaeological  objects,  including  the  State's  world-famous
    17  Iroquois collection, were consumed by  flames.  When  extinguished,  the
    18  fire had decimated the entire collection of the State Library, with more
    19  than 800,000 books and manuscripts being lost.
    20    According to the March 29, 1911 edition of the Albany Evening Journal,
    21  at  approximately  3  a.m.,  shortly after the fire alarm sounded at the
    22  Capitol, Mr. Samuel J. Abbott, a 78-year-old watchman in  the  building,
    23  "was seen by an orderly opening some windows".

         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        S. 5570                             2
     1    Samuel J. Abbott was born in September 1833, one of at least five boys
     2  and four girls born to William B. and Lucretia A. Abbott. William Abbott
     3  had  a  stave  and  barrel  factory where Samuel and his brother, Henry,
     4  worked off-and-on as turners and coopers. During the Civil  War,  Samuel
     5  Abbott served in Company E of the 12th New York State Volunteer Infantry
     6  in the regiment that also was known as the Onondaga County Regiment, the
     7  Independence  Guard,  and  The Dozen. Mr. Abbott was recorded as holding
     8  the ranks of Ensign, Second Lieutenant (May 13,  1861-August  2,  1861),
     9  and  First  Lieutenant  (August  2,  1861-September 19, 1861) and he was
    10  later described in the Albany Evening Journal as having "an enviable war
    11  record".
    12    After the war, Samuel Abbott returned to the village of  Salina,  part
    13  of present day Syracuse, where he resumed his work at his father's shop.
    14  From  1867  through  1870, Mr. Abbott served as Postmaster at the Salina
    15  Post Office. He married Jane "Jennie" Utting, the  daughter  of  English
    16  immigrants  James  and  Sarah  Utting,  in 1867.   According to the 1860
    17  census, Jennie worked as a dressmaker. The couple was  blessed  with  at
    18  least  five  children,  three  of whom, Ellen "Nellie", born circa 1869,
    19  George W., born circa 1876, and Mabel E.,  born  circa  1880,  lived  to
    20  adulthood.
    21    Mr. and Mrs. Abbott were a noted couple in Syracuse. Samuel Abbott was
    22  a  member  of Root Post and the Grand Army of the Republic, while Jennie
    23  Abbott had been a prominent member of the Women's Relief Corps. In 1875,
    24  Samuel Abbott started working in the Office of the Overseer of the Poor,
    25  a position he held until 1894.
    26    In 1895, Samuel J. Abbott took a  job  as  a  watchman  in  the  State
    27  Library  at  the  Capitol  in Albany. Following the passing of his wife,
    28  Jennie, in January, 1911 Mr.  Abbott moved in  with  life-long  friends,
    29  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Thomas Behan, at 3 Washington Avenue. The Albany Evening
    30  Journal later reported that  Mr.  Abbott's,  "territory  as  watchman...
    31  comprised  three  floors of the State Library; he was wont to leave home
    32  about 9 p.m. each night, go to the library, lock himself in  and  remain
    33  until 6 a.m. when he returned home".
    34    When  Mr.  and Mrs. Behan, and, "several boarders were awakened by the
    35  fire alarm and realized that the Capitol was on fire,  they  immediately
    36  thought  of the safety of Mr. Abbott; 
two of the men hustled right over
    37  to the scene of the fire; one of them went into the building  and  asked
    38  another watchman if he had seen Mr.  Abbott and the answer was 'Oh, yes,
    39  he's  all right. I saw him opening windows.' but hour after hour went by
    40  and he failed to appear". Two days later, on March  31st,  Mr.  Abbott's
    41  partially  burned  body  was  found in a narrow passageway on the fourth
    42  floor, his silver-handled cane a short distance  away.  In  his  pocket,
    43  remained  a  key to a locked door just a few paces away through which he
    44  might have escaped.
    45    According the Times Union, his funeral service, held  at  St.  Peter's
    46  Church in Albany on April 1, 1912, "was one of the most largely attended
    47  funerals  ever  held  in this church".   The commanders of Albany's four
    48  Grand Army of the Republic posts served as pallbearers. Governor John A.
    49  Dix was in attendance, along with "representatives from every department
    50  in the Capitol". In August 1912, the Legislature allocated $280.16  for,
    51  "George W. Abbott, son of the late Samuel J.  Abbott, an employee of the
    52  department  of  education,  who  lost  his life in the Capitol fire, for
    53  funeral and burial expenses, and other expenses incidental to the  find-
    54  ing of the body".
    55    Samuel  Abbott  lost his life in service to the people of the state of
    56  New York, yet his sacrifice has never been fully recognized at the Capi-

        S. 5570                             3

     1  tol. His tragic passing, along with  the  lives  lost  in  the  Triangle
     2  Shirtwaist  Factory  fire,  together  spurred a wave of workplace safety
     3  laws, including the Sullivan-Hoey Fire Prevention  Law.  Now  therefore,
     4  the  state commission on the restructuring of the Capitol and the office
     5  of general services shall work in  conjunction  to  install  a  memorial
     6  plaque  bearing the likeness of Samuel Abbott and appropriately describ-
     7  ing Samuel Abbott's service and sacrifice to the citizens of  the  state
     8  of New York while performing his official duties.
     9    §  2.  The public buildings law is amended by adding a new section 5-c
    10  to read as follows:
    11    § 5-c. Samuel J. Abbott commemorative plaque. There shall be installed
    12  and maintained in the  Capitol,  a  commemorative  plaque  honoring  the
    13  service  and  sacrifice  of Samuel J. Abbott to the people of the state.
    14  Such plaque shall bear the likeness  of  Samuel  J.  Abbott,  include  a
    15  description of his service and sacrifice to the people of the state, and
    16  be  designed and placed in a manner as determined jointly by the commis-
    17  sioner of general services and the commission on  the  restructuring  of
    18  the Capitol.
    19    § 3. This act shall take effect immediately.
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