The State University College at Potsdam was founded in 1816, by Benjamin Raymond as St. Lawrence Academy. Initially, the campus was located near Market Street, between Main and Elm Streets, and it consisted of a one-story building. By 1820, student enrollment grew rapidly, and a new building named the North Academy was constructed. In 1835, the New York State Legislature awarded the college with monetary reimbursements in order to properly train teachers for public school education curriculums. In 1869, St. Lawrence Academy became the Potsdam Normal School, and in 1917, the former building was demolished and a new classroom-administration building was constructed in the same location. A series of name changes occurred before the State established the college as the State University of New York Teachers College at Potsdam in 1948. It is presently known as the State University College at Potsdam. Along with several name changes, SUNY Potsdam also moved its physical location to where it is presently located. The majority of the buildings located at the present campus were built between 1951 and 1973. The original Raymond Hall, now called Satterlee Hall, opened in 1954, and its clock tower became a major symbol of the college and has been in use ever since. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls 4,300 graduate and undergraduate students and consists of 44 buildings.
Prior to the late 1970s, asbestos was incorporated into dozens of building materials, which were utilized throughout the SUNY Potsdam campus. In recent years, workers employed in the construction and maintenance of buildings at SUNY Potsdam have developed and died of mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos-containing joint compound (mud), pipe covering and block insulation and were used throughout SUNY Potsdam buildings. Workers who handled materials that contained asbestos or those who worked in the vicinity of others who did are at risk for developing an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Buildings throughout SUNY Potsdam were heated by steam, which was produced in boilers. Steam was transported from the boilers to the buildings through a system of pipes. Asbestos-containing block insulation and pipe covering was applied to pipes, valves, pumps, breechings and boilers in order to protect the pipes and to provide a stable internal temperature within the steam system. Removing and applying asbestos-containing pipe covering, insulating cement and block insulation caused asbestos particles to become airborne, which workers then inhaled.
Asbestos-containing joint compound was also utilized in the construction of many buildings at SUNY Potsdam. Joint compound or mud, was used to fill in the seams between sheets of drywall. It was manufactured as either ready-mix (an application-ready product) or as dry mix (a powder that requires water to form a paste for application). During preparation, the act of pouring and mixing the powder with water released asbestos fibers into the air. After joint compound was applied, it was sanded down to a smooth surface for painting. The process of sanding joint compound also released asbestos particles into the air putting not only drywall finishers at risk for exposure, but others who worked in the same vicinity.
Inhaling dust and particles from the application and maintenance of asbestos-containing materials placed workers at risk of developing serious health problems. Those who were not in direct contact with asbestos materials also remain at risk for the development of asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Many union and non-union laborers who worked on construction projects at SUNY Potsdam were employed by various contractors throughout New York State. If you or a loved one were once employed as a laborer at SUNY Potsdam and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.