From Toilet Paper to Terminal Warehouse

Albany Terminal Warehouse CompanyI’ve spent some time trying to sort out the history of this ancient looking remnant of the lumber district, and finally sorted it out in the oddest way. On the “Albany: The Way It Was” Facebook group yesterday, we were discussing the various locations of the Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Company. You know, the place that invented toilet paper. And, probably, the toilet paper roll holder.

Apparently, the A.P.W. company was located all over the place. In a 1907 ad, they were at 38 Colonie Street, at the corner of Montgomery on the northwest.  Then they apparently moved up to 1279 Broadway, on the grounds now occupied by the only recently former Matthew Bender/Lexis building, where they were located as late as 1919. But apparently they soon moved again to another new, and rather large, complex, in a building that still stands today as Huck Finn’s Warehouse on Erie Boulevard. (All credit to the FB folks for figuring that one out; Hoxsie had no idea.) There were other buildings as well. Apparently the toilet paper factory left a lot of things behind.

What happened to their original building at Colonie and Montgomery? That building later was owned by the Albany Terminal Warehouse Company, formed by William Van Rensselaer in 1893, and still stands. Not sure if any operating business is there now, but the old “Bargain City” sign is still on the side from only slightly better times. And that confused me, because that building was clearly not this building.

Turns out the company already had a warehouse, built the year the company was founded, further up in the lumber district, which still stands. The warehouse, pictured here, was built oddly close to the Van Rensselaer Manor house. Even modern entrepreneurs rarely locate their self-storage empires right next to their mini-mansion subdivisions, but apparently one of the last of the Van Rensselaers thought what the family estate needed was a giant warehouse. Well, the warehouse still stands, but the manor house does not. Plenty more on that courtesy of Albany Bagel.

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