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September 2, 2007


Publication: The Daily Gazette
Section: Opinion
Edition: Final
Published: 01/02/03
Page: A-07

Don't wreck any more historic buildings


I wonder what the new year will have in store for preservation battles in Albany? Most likely, several.

Don't forget Holy Innocents Church and its rectory, on Childermas, or any other day. Everyone seems to have forgotten it. This small but beautiful 1844 gem of the Gothic Revival, and Ecclesiology, in North America, sits at the corner of North Pearl and Colonie streets. Its unique windows are boarded over, and it's been disused for five years by Hope House, which was supposed to use it. Now there are big development plans in that area.

Another building of special concern to me is the odd frame structure at 48 Hudson Ave. Within the fabric of this building, I found a vestige of a much older building. This vestige appears to be the entire west, half-timbered wall of the house of Johannis Van Ostrande, a First Ward Common Council member from 1728 to 1734. Moreover, this remnant may have been part of an Albany Anchored Gable House.

This house type was what Colonial Albany was noted for. It may have originated in Albany, or even earlier in Beverwyck, probably as a reconciliation of conflicting status and budgetary concerns. The type was, simply, a clapboarded half-timbered structure, with a Dutch-style brick gable facing the street. This gable was anchored to the timber frame with wrought-iron wall anchors; hence the type name.

There is but one known, complete, surviving example of an Albany Anchored Gable House. It's the Abram Yates House in Schenectady's Stockade. This house type diffused to Schenectady. What's needed for the priceless remnant at 48 Hudson Ave. is to bring in some good house detectives to conduct a kind of above-ground archaeological probe. Then some architects worth their salt are needed to include the historic relic, and an adjoining Federal Period house, in any new plans.

Unfortunately, 48 and 50 Hudson Ave. are in the path of some of the versions of the proposed convention center in Albany, undoubtedly where a parking garage will be.

To keep these, and other historic places from becoming subjects of more media demolition extravaganzas, they need adequate exposure and expressions of public concern. This should be with positive support, rather than naysaying, from government.




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