HERKIMER — A grant has given the Friends of Historic Herkimer County another boost in their continued effort to preserve one of the village of Herkimer’s most historical buildings.

Katie Nichols, Friends treasurer, said the Partners Trust Charitable Fund — through the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties — granted $10,000 to the group for improvements to the historic 1834 Jail.

"This grant is a culmination of 15 years’ worth of work by a dedicated, small group of volunteers," said Jim Greiner, board president of the Friends of Historic Herkimer County.

The grant will go toward making improvements to the 185-year-old structure, including the deteriorating limestone walls and other work such as improving the building’s air quality.

"We haven’t been able to meet [at the jail] because of the air quality," said Nichols.

The Herkimer County Legislature — which leases the building to the Friends group — approved a resolution earlier this month to accept a $239,500 state grant and authorized the signing of the master contract, which needs to be signed by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the state Attorney General’s Office and the state Comptroller’s Office.

The Friends group — a 501c3 nonprofit organization — has been seeking funds to assist with its 25 percent share of the $320,200 project by raising a total of $80,800. Nichols said the group has received various donations, including $5,000 each from the village of Herkimer and the Town of Herkimer and $8,000 in donations from individual community members to go toward the match.

Nichols said the Friends group is currently writing a grant for $12,250 from the Community Foundation that will go toward balancing out the rest of the match.

The jail has housed such infamous inmates as Roxalana Druse — known as the "last woman hanged" in Herkimer County after being convicted of killing her husband — and Chester Gillette — who was convicted of killing Grace Brown.

The Friends of Historic Herkimer County formed in 2004 and began working on the project to save the 1834 Jail. The jail had been used into the 1970s and was in rough shape when the Friends group formed. The Preservation League of New York State provided funds for a condition report and, in 2005, named the jail to its Seven to Save List, which is the League’s annual roll of the state’s most endangered historic places.