Edwin Nellegar, Upholsterer

Edwin Nellegar

For someone who was in business for decades, Edwin Nellegar didn’t leave a lot of information behind. He was born about 1849, and married wife Alida at age 21. We know he advertised for his upholstery business, irregularly. We know that he took a hunting trip in the Catskills in 1898 (from a time when newspapers took note of such things). We know when Alida died (1924). Beyond that, not a lot. And yet, his storefront is prominent among lost buildings of Albany, in an area that is now West Capitol Park.

This may have been the last storefront occupied by Edwin Nellegar, who appears to have been an upholsterer with the great Albany department store W.M. Whitney, but who went off on his own in a seemingly endless succession of locations. By 1919, when he gave up this location at 80 Washington Avenue, he had been on his own for 23 years, and was probably in the vicinity of 70 years old.

In 1873, he was at 6 Plain Street (a stretch between Grand and South Pearl now long-lost).  In 1880, he was at 47 North Pearl. In 1893, he was at 29 Washington Avenue, where he remained through 1906; then he moved to 248 Washington. We haven’t quite nailed down when he moved to 80 Washington, which is pictured here.

1919 was a time of change for this strip of buildings, as we’ll see. Nellegar was quoted as not knowing where he would move his business, and as we don’t find much more mention of him, it may be that he just retired at that point.

The poster in the window was from 1916, for a film showing at Harmanus Bleecker Hall, the screen production of “Idle Wives,” which was reported to have attracted large audiences. “Idle Wives” was a notable production by Lois Weber, a leading filmmaker in early Hollywood. Two reels of the film still exist.


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