Category Archives: Albany

J.C. Jones, Merchant Tailor

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J.C. Jones.pngJ.C. Jones, merchant tailor, had removed to a new store at 618 Broadway (all the way from 608 Broadway) in 1869. He always had on hand English, Irish, Scotch, French and German cloths and cassimeres. “Cassimere” was a closely woven twilled fabric, usually wool, for suits. His home was at 53 Jefferson Street, a healthy hike to Broadway in those days when Albany was just expanding up to the Washington Park area.

Crummey Baker

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Crummey Baker.pngMichael Crummey was a successful bread, pie and cake baker with two locations: Beaver Street at the corner of Lodge (is it possible this building still stands?) and 60 North Pearl, at the corner of Columbia. He made hot rolls every morning, and tea biscuits every afternoon. Not to mention le pain Français every day.

But you know that even in 1869, Crummey was a funny name for a baker.

John Gavit, engraver to the world

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Albany Directory 1869 7.02.22 AM.pngJohn Gavit’s engraving, printing, lithographing, and stationery operation  was smack in the busiest part of the city in 1869, right at 57 State Street (now, sadly, a prominent parking lot). Like many printers of the day, they did a little bit of everything, in a quality that no doubt we would weep over today. (Inkjet printing just ain’t the same thing.)  John Gavit was born in New York City on October 25, 1817, and founded his own printing company here in Albany in 1840. The “Checks, Notes, Drafts, Bill and Note Heads” must have been printed in the very best manner, indeed, for he focused on an enterprise that became the American Bank Note Company, in New York City, sometime around 1855. It became was the world’s foremost engraver and printer of bank notes and securities. “Under his direction the company furnished bonds, banknotes, revenue-stamps for the governments and banks of Spain, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, South and Central America, as well as for the government of the United States,” according to this article.

While the bank note company grew and grew, his printing business here in Albany continued on its own scale. He was also instrumental in the formation of the Dudley Observatory here in Albany. He was a secretary of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and spent a season on the Continent representing both the Association and the Dudley Observatory before certain men of science. Apparently part of the mission, which he undertook in 1858 with a Mr. Spencer, involved bringing back sensitive measuring devices (a barometer, thermometer and heliometer) that were only available in Europe at the time. Unfortunately, they were broken in shipment, and Mr. Gavit felt the need to protest his lack of responsibility for this turn of events.

John Gavit died in 1874.

Charles Van Heusen and the Presidential Seal

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Charles Van Heusen.pngIn 1869, Charles Van Heusen was a dealer in fine china, glass, earthen ware, kerosene goods, gas fixtures and more. His business was in Marble Hall, at 468 and 470 Broadway.

Marble Hall has not survived, but the Van Heusen family gave us two fine Albany buildings that still stand. The home built for son Charles in 1900  at 411 State Street is now home to the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

It is said that the younger Charles Van Heusen was friends with Theodore Roosevelt, that he supplied his china to the White House, and that he somehow had a hand in the final version of the Great Seal of the United States. How so? Well, the Philadelphia Museum of Art describes it thusly:

“Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt (1861-1948) ordered a new state service for 120 to harmonize with the renovation and redecoration of the White House by McKim, Mead and White in 1902. She chose a Wedgwood pattern, then called “Ulanda,” from among several English and Continental porcelain samples submitted by the Van Heusen Charles Company of Albany, New York.1 Wedgwood customized the decoration by adding the Great Seal of the United States in a circular reserve on the border design of simple, radiating gold lines.” Susan Gray Detweiler, from American Presidential China: The Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2008), p. 73.

I guess once it was on a plate, there was no turning back.

Charles’s brother, Theodore, also was involved in the company and had a bit of loveliness built at 6 Madison Place, just below the cathedral; it was built in 1848 by David Orr.

George B. Withers, Silver Plater

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Albany Directory 1869 7.02.03 AM.pngIt’s Albany, 1869. Where are you gonna get your silver plated? George B. Withers of 52 Hudson Street was your man for silver plating and galvanizing. As he manufactured fine silver door plates, carriage plates, letters, figures and crests, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if somewhere one of the older buildings of Albany still bears his handiwork.

The Ten Eyck Hotel

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Albany, New York, circa 1908. "The Ten Eyck." At two fifty-seven. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. From

Albany, New York, circa 1908. “The Ten Eyck.” At two fifty-seven. 8×10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. From

Where were all those dapper folks from 1908 we looked at yesterday hanging about? The Ten Eyck Hotel, corner of State and Chapel. To its right is the Tweddle Building, the second version of a landmark built by John Tweddle at the Elm Tree Corner, northwest corner of State and Pearl.  The lovely structure across Chapel Street was the Albany Savings Bank, built in 1897. Its clock is capped by a sculpture of the Albany city seal (“Ol’ Assiduity,” we calls it), and the second floor window says “Surrogate Court,” so it seems likely there were some government offices within as well. All of this is gone today, of course, including this stretch of Chapel Street, and all replaced by heaps of bricks now known as the Hilton and the Citizens Bank Building.

When Albany was dapper

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Ten Eyck.png There was a time when Albany was dapper. To judge by these views from around the Ten Eyck Hotel, that time was 1908. Witness four gentlemen in straw boaters, standing in a crosswalk when it was still possible to do so and not evoke The Beatles.
Ten Eyck 2.png Or these two gents, one with a seemingly unnecessary bumbershoot on this fine bright day, the other perhaps with the daily racing form, or any of the many daily newspapers printed in Albany at that time.
Ten Eyck 3.png Or this outing party, about to set out in an automobile, perhaps for a picnic at the Albany Rural Cemetery or a trip to Al-Tro Park, which had just opened the year before.

You want to go to there, right?

The Ten Eyck

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Ten Eyck 1927.pngAlbany’s grandest of grand hotels in the early 20th century was  The Ten Eyck, located pretty much where the Hotel Albany (originally and once again a Hilton) is located on State Street, just above the Elm Tree Corner and Tweddle Hall. It was on the corner of Chapel, which then went through all the way to State. This ad from 1927 features its Garden Restaurant and Venetian Terrace:

“Sixteen floors up! Overlooking all of Albany, but not overlooking a single detail that will add to your comfort, pleasure and satisfaction. Come tonight.”

With music by Frank Funda and the Ten Eyck Orchestra! With dinner dancing, and a supper dance! Our city was a very different thing back then.

$10 down and $2 a week

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Hampton Manor Ad 1927 3.jpgAs we mentioned yesterday, in 1927 the suburbs of Albany were starting to boom. Veeder Realty was pushing two new developments, Birchwood Park and Hampton Manor. Birchwood Park was between stops 18 and 19 on the Schenectady Railway Company trolley line to Albany, somewhere in Colonie. As far as we can tell, Birchwood Park is lost to time, though no doubt some of the homes still exist. Hampton Manor, as noted yesterday, was and remains a tidy little development in East Greenbush. Neither place can be accessed by trolley, and Hampton Manor’s direct bus service was cut last year.

Even by 1927 standards, $10 down and $2 a week doesn’t seem like a lot of money for buying a lot.

“The plan enables you to start building without the usual method of first paying up for the lot. A small amount of cash secures the lot and starts the building . . . and the balance is paid same as rent but considerably less than most rents are these days! Act at once. The liberality of the plan may bring a demand that we cannot meet. First come, first served. At least INVESTIGATE!”

Sayles Hall

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Sayles Hall Boys Dormitory State College for Teachers Albany postcard BPL.jpgWe’ved looked at some of the other buildings of the old State Normal School in Albany, now known as the downtown campus of SUNY Albany, but haven’t tripped upon Sayles Hall before. And so here it is. It was dedicated in 1941 as a men’s dormitory. It went back and forth between housing men and women until 1966. It was named for John Sayles, then the acting president of the school and an active member of the Alumni Association that raised the money for its construction.