The Waterloo Library and Historical Society is proud to announce the recipient for the 2018 Welles Award, Peter Houghton. The Welles Award, created by the Waterloo Library and Historical Society in 2008, honors a “citizen of Waterloo who, through tireless effort and many hours of uncompensated time, has made Waterloo a better place to live, work, worship, understand and enjoy,” a person who understands the richness Waterloo offers and utilizes their talents to preserve that richness. Peter is a person who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to revive the historical legacy and significance of Waterloo.
An Ithaca native, Peter attended Cornell University and graduated with a Masters of Engineering degree in 1966. He and Doris moved to Albany where he worked for the New York State Department of Public Works. In 1970, he obtained his New York State Professional Engineers license. In 1976, Peter took a promotion to manage the Seneca County office of the NYS Department of Transportation headquartered in Waterloo.
His desire to preserve history, especially buildings, is one of the main reasons why in 2002, he joined the Waterloo Library and Historical Society Board. For the next 12 years, Peter tirelessly worked to preserve the Waterloo Library building, which is one of a few historical buildings in New York State that is still used for its original purpose.
Peter states, “as an engineer, I saw the big picture with the needs of the building.” This included the slate roof, stained glass windows, the heating system, electrical system, and the exterior stone, iron and wood work that had to be restored. He also saw the need to add an improved handicapped access ramp and air conditioning. As work progressed, additional smaller tasks were rolled into the larger projects.
Peter volunteered countless hours developing the projects, writing grant applications to secure funding, selecting the best contractors who understood the historical significance of the structure, and then overseeing the work being completed, using his engineering background to make sure the end result was historically accurate.. Through his efforts, 16 restoration and improvement projects, totaling $1,160,000, were completed at the library over a 10-year period..
Peter and his wife, Doris, have raised their four children in Waterloo and strongly supported the academic, athletic and musical activities of the Waterloo School District. Peter served two terms on the Waterloo School Board and helped build the original Leathers Playgrounds at both elementary schools. The family was involved with many community and church activities. Peter was a volunteer with the Hershey Youth Track and Field Program held for many summers at the Waterloo High School. He has sung at churches, in Seneca Community Players musicals, in several local musical groups and at weddings. If you say his name to others, one of the first things they may say to you is that he has a great singing voice!
See videos of previous award winners below.