Author Archives: carljohnson

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

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Cathedral Immaculate ConceptionThis postcard view, likely from the 1930s or so like the others we’ve been showing, shows the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, on Eagle Street at the southwest corner with Madison Avenue. While of course there is no Cultural Education Center towering over it from behind, there’s an amount of license in showing a cleared grassy area up Madison Avenue, because in fact that stretch of Madison was packed with the usual three-story Albany row buildings, as you can see:

madison and eagle 1920s albany ny (Cathedral of the Immaculate conception of left)

Construction began on the cathedral and the cornerstone was laid in 1848, with the dedication in 1852. it was designed by Irish immigrant Patrick Keely, who designed something like 500 churches, many in the industrial towns of the northeast. Reportedly, it was only the second cathedral dedicated in New York (St. Patrick’s in NYC being the first). The Troy Daily Times reported on the dedication:

Solemn Dedication of the Albany Cathedral

According to previous arrangement, this imposing ceremony came off on Sunday, and was deeply interesting. It commenced about 9 o’clock A.M. There were two Archbishops, five Bishops and about one hundred Priests who officiated on the occasion.

The dedicatory service was performed by Archbishop Hughes, of New York. The clergy formed in procession from the two Sacristies on either side of the grand altar, and passed through the middle aisles to the front of the Cathedral outside, where the ceremony properly commenced.

After the appropriate prayers with the first blessing of the New Edifice were ended, the procession moved round the whole edifice, the clergy chanting the Miserere, and the dedicating Archbishop sprinkling the Cathedral with holy water as the procession moved round – using the prayers appropriate for the occasion.

Returning to the place in front of the Cathedral, the Solemn Entry was made. After the Archbishop had three times knocked at the gates of the main entrance, the clergy sang the Litany of the Saints, emblematic of the solemn entry into Heaven – the Temple not made by the hands of men …

During the Pontifical Mass, Archbishop Hughes took his throne, where he sat with this attendants until after the gospel, when he took off his mitre and cape, and ascended the pulpit, (also but temporarily erected,) in front of the sanctuary … He first alluded to the disappointment in the absence, by unexpected sickness, of the Archbishop Purcell, of Cincinnati, who was to have preached the dedication sermon, whose place he was now unexpectedly to fill.

He complimented the congregation at the early completion of so noble a structure, and quoted it as an evidence of the zeal and influence of their first Bishop, and his venerable clergy, and of the union also that existed betweeen the pastors and the flock.

He also highly complimented the architect and builders, and made allusions to the Right Reverend Bishops of Montreal, Bogota, etc,. who had honored the occasion with their presence …

This imperfect and hurried sketch does nothing like justice to the grand occasion, or eloquent extemporaneous discourse in any way, but may give an idea of the imposing solemnity of the occasion, and of the  joy that seemed to fill all hearts. There were present about from 4000 to 5000 people. Service will hereafter take place regularly at the Cathedral Church.

Dedication, as was often the case, did not mean completion; the spires were not complete in 1852, and the chancel had not been built. The north tower was completed in 1862, and, appropriately, Meneely bells from West Troy were hung. The south spire didn’t come until 1888.

While the cathedral was outside the area that was taken for the Empire State Plaza, its parishioners were not.  In addition to robbing the church of a neighborhood to serve, it is reported that the years of construction next door did damage to the cathedral building and rendered its pipe organ unusable. The cathedral did survive, however, and extensive renovations took place in the first decade of this century, with a reopening of the church in 2010.

The Capitol’s Grand Staircase

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Capitol Grand StaircaseAnother postcard from the Tichnor Collection at Digitalcommonwealth.org. “The Grand Staircase” is something of an understatement – this is the New York State Capitol’s Great Western Staircase, also (and probably better) known as The Million Dollar Staircase. But, of course, it cost much more than that, at an estimated $1.5 million. With 444 steps (which Hoxsie used to climb with regularity, for both business and pleasure), it took 14 years to complete, making it one of the speedier parts of the Capitol’s construction. This postcard really doesn’t begin to do it justice, though it does seem to show it in a time when it was still naturally lit by skylight (which it is once again, but with electric lights as well). The stonecarvers were given tremendous license, and as a result it is one of the most incredibly ornamented structures you will see on this continent. If you’ve never seen it, just go inside and look – you don’t need to be on a tour to wander the Capitol freely (though there are now metal detectors at the doors). If you can’t, take a look at this collection of photos from Northeast Architecture.

The Post Office and Courthouse

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Post Office, Albany, NYThis postcard from the Tichnor Collection shows what was once known as the “new” post office in downtown Albany. According to the Federal General Services Administration, a new post office was first authorized in 1930 with a $3.325 million allocation “to purchase a site and construct a new federal building in Albany, New York, to house a post office, courthouse, and custom house.” The following year, this site on the corner of Broadway and Maiden Lane was chosen, which necessitated the demolition of a number of buildings on Broadway and Dean Street (which technically still runs behind the building). The new structure was designed by local firm Gander, Gander & Gander in 1931, and the cornerstone was laid August 18, 1933. The building opened in 1934. “The building had an exterior bridge connecting the nearby rail station with the post office, which occupied the entire first two floors” – meaning not Union Station, but the freight warehouse of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad, which was located on Dean Street adjacent to the D&H Headquarters. The building was known as the Post Office or the Courthouse, depending on why you were going there, for many years until 1988 when the building, already on the National Register of Historic Places, was named in honor of James T. Foley, the son of a politically connected cockfighting promoter, who served as a federal court judge for 40 years.

 

The building is an understated Art Deco beauty. As the GSA website says,

The facade, which faces west on Broadway, contains two entrances, each topped with an eagle that is more than eight feet tall and carved from a seventeen-ton Vermont marble block by New York City sculptor Albert T. Stewart, who also received the commission for the building’s frieze. Artist Benjamin Hawkins created ornate aluminum screens titled Departments of Government located behind the eagles. The screens contain stylized motifs representing the Departments of Navy, Agriculture, Labor, Army, Post Office, Commerce and Revenue, as well as images of the courts, thirteen stars representing the original colonies, and the New York state seal. A bas-relief frieze encircles the building on three elevations: the west facade contains images of postal service activities, the north elevation shows customs duties, and the south elevation illustrates the mission of the courts. To make the carvings visible to street-level viewers, Stewart created figures approximately eight feet tall and executed at a depth of nearly three inches.

Typical of the Art Deco style, the architects designed an opulent interior. Six marble types, including St. Genevieve Golden Vein, Rose, Champlain Black, Eagle Grey Tennessee, Eagle Pink Tennessee, and Verde Antique, are used on the richly appointed interior walls and floors. Ceilings are ornate plaster with medallions and stepped molding covered with aluminum leaf. Entrance vestibules lead to public lobbies with marble walls. Marble mosaic medallions are inset in the north and south lobby floors. A gilded plaster ceiling medallion of the United States Seal is centered in the lobby and framed by step moldings covered with aluminum leaf and gold stars.

Marble pilasters divide the main lobby into nine bays, each articulated with a ceiling mural. Artist Ethel M. Parsons painted the oil-on-canvas murals in 1935, depicting each of the seven continents as well as the North Pole and the United States. Interspersed with the murals are plaster plaques by Italian artist Enea Biafora Portraying famous Americans, including Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington, as portrayed on the earliest U.S. postage stamps. With the exception of the murals, the ceiling is covered with aluminum leaf. Four original black marble writing desks are centered in the main lobby.

Throughout the building, in both public and private spaces, intricate wood inlay designs adorn the ceiling and wall trim. Each of the five floors contains two elevator lobbies with adjacent public staircases. The stairs have treads and landings of Eagle Grey Tennessee marble with Champlain black marble risers. Cast-aluminum railings, also designed by Biafora, contain stylized motifs related to the functions of the building, including an airplane and scales of justice.

The murals are probably what most of us miss most about easy access to the building’s lobby – there were worth the trip. The post office left the building in 1995, with most of its sorting functions transferred out to the suburbs and the remaining functions accommodated by a joyless little space on the bottom floor of a parking garage on Hudson Street, which no one looks forward to going to.

Maiden Lane below Broadway 1930s albany ny

In this view, looking east down Maiden Lane, the bridge to the D&H freight terminal is visible, an essential feature from a time when much intercity mail traveled by rail.

The Capitol Flag Room – or, War Room

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Capitol Flag Room, or War RoomThis postcard, also from the Tichnor Collection at Digitalcommonwealth.org, depicts what was then called the Flag Room of the New York State Capitol in Albany. Even when this postcard was made, it doesn’t appear that battle flags were on display here … they may have already been moved out into the eastern entry hall  to the Capitol, where they suffered for decades. Some have now been conserved. In Hoxsie’s memory, this space was always called the War Room, so named for its ceiling murals depicting significant conflicts in New York’s history. Like the flags it once held, this space suffered mightily for a long time, essentially consigned to use as a storage space until it was restored during Governor Pataki’s administration. It is now used for various historical exhibits and is officially designated as the Governor’s Reception Room, but we’re not buying that moniker.

We’d love to know what the marker on the pedestal used to say. It’s not quite legible in any of the versions of this postcard that we’ve been able to find.

Looking Up State Street

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Looking up State StreetWe’re not sure of the date of this postcard, probably somewhere in the 1930s, but what’s interesting is how little has changed. The Plaza in the immediate foreground no longer extends State Street around the area where buses and trolleys congregated, and the Hotel Ten Eyck, the tall building halfway up the hill on the right, has been replaced by the Hilton Hotel tower. The tall tower behind the low buildings on Broadway is still there.  Of course, a couple of other newer skyscrapers would now block the view up the hill a bit from here, but the major figures are still there. On the right, what was called the Federal Building and the Post Office (which it was before it moved into the adjacent building on Broadway) still stands, freshly cleaned we’re told, and is part of the SUNY headquarters, which also took over the Delaware and Hudson Railroad Building from which this view was made. Just beyond that, on the other side of Broadway, with the curved front and dome is the First Trust Company Building, showing the design of Marcus Reynolds from about 1904.

On the left, a row of commercial buildings that still stands today. The corner building is best known as the long-time home of Coulson’s newsroom. The two buildings to the left were locations for a paint business called Stoneman’s – the big oval sign proclaims “Country Gentleman Paints.” They started as a sailmaker and ship’s chandler named Matthew G. Stoneman in 1848. They also went by the name “Painteria.” To the far left, across the small opening of Beaver Street stands the Argus Building, once home to Albany’s Argus newspaper and general printer/publisher. Up the hill, on the left side of State Street you can see the lovely top of the Municipal Gas Company building. And, of course, straight up State Street, the Capitol, beyond which is the Alfred E. Smith State Office Building (which helps date this as post-1930).

Paul Nance provided us with some interesting history on the tall block of ugly on the left side of the card, The Beaver (so named for its location on Beaver Street, one can hope). He said, “Another significant change since the 1930s is the absence of 9 Beaver, the 13-floor brick hulk on the left side of the image. The so-called Spite Building had no access to the top three floors (“elevator plan to be submitted later,” according to the architectural plans), since their only purpose was to block the view from the Hampton Hotel’s rooftop garden. Notice the light showing through the top floors: the opening were windowless, providing a home for pigeons. The building was finally demolished in 1969.”

(As before, this postcard comes from the Tichnor Collection at Digitalcommonwealth.org)

Another very similar postcard from the same era is in the AlbanyGroup Archive.

The Dunn Memorial Bridge

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Dunn Memorial BridgeHoxsie’s going to show you some pretty pictures for a little while. We came across a huge trove of local picture postcards from the Tichnor Collection at Digitalcommonwealth.org, a Bay State resource that knows no borders, apparently. This is a lovely print of the “new” Dunn Memorial Bridge connecting Albany and Rensselaer, in its lifted position to allow one of the Hudson River Day Liners (presumably) through.

We’ve written about the Dunn a number of times before, of course. It was first proposed to replace the Greenbush bridge in 1927, when the original bridge was 45 years old, and its draw span was considered a hindrance to the growing traffic coming up the river and needing to cross from Rensselaer. For a minute, there was talk of a tunnel. But it wasn’t to be, and on August 19, 1933, a new bridge, still with a lift span to accommodate river traffic, was opened – the practical steel bridge you see here. It remained the only motor vehicle crossing at Albany until 1968, when the Patroon Island Bridge opened. This Dunn Memorial was replaced by the next new Dunn Memorial Bridge in 1971.

A few details from the postcard. This, of course, is the Delaware and Hudson Railroad Building, the headquarters (not a station) of the venerable railroad, and now the headquarters of SUNY.
Here, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, not yet shadowed or dwarfed by buildings of the Empire State Plaza. The Alfred E. Smith State Office Building appears prominently, with the roof of the Capitol visible just past the ship’s smokestack. In reality, there would have been smoke. Everywhere.

As a reminder, the Dunn Memorial is named for Albany’s other Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Private Parker Dunn of Morton Avenue, who was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously after the First World War. Here’s his citation:

“When his battalion commander found it necessary to send a message to a company in the attacking line and hesitated to order a runner to make the trip because of the extreme danger involved, Pfc. Dunn, a member of the intelligence section, volunteered for the mission. After advancing but a short distance across a field swept by artillery and machinegun fire, he was wounded, but continued on and fell wounded a second time. Still undaunted, he persistently attempted to carry out his mission until he was killed by a machinegun bullet before reaching the advance line.”

The Great Celebration

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The Great Celebration

In the centennial year of the United States, there was some celebrating in Albany. By the time July 3rd, 1876, rolled around, the Albany Evening Times had this to say about the great celebration to come:

The arrangements for the grandest celebration that has ever taken place in Albany are about complete. It now only remains to put into execution the plans which have been maturing for the last two months, and our citizens will witness a display such as will be worth going miles to see. The decorations alone will amply repay the trouble of a long and tedious journey. Already they are cropping out, and by the time our paper goes to press the city will have assumed something of its holiday appearance. Around in back yards trucks are being carefully decorated; up at Hope chapel the Hollanders are working as busy as bees, at their unique and interesting tableaux; the firemen are putting the last polish upon their machines; the soldiers are brushing their uniforms; the Irishmen are taking down their beautiful regalia; the boys are counting over their hoards of fire crackers, and everybody is in a cheerful state of expectancy. And now

A FEW PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS.

 

Look out for fires.

Remember the advice of Albany’s philosopher, and “Go slow.”

The day will be a long one, as no one will sleep after twelve o’clock to-night.

Take a walk along the route of march, just before the procession, and look at the decorations.

Make a pilgrimage to the various historical buildings, in which our city is so rich.

It will not be absolutely necessary to get drunk to prove your patriotism this evening or to morrow.

Don’t get out of patience with Young America just now. He will not have a like chance to bother you for 100 years.

It is a great pity that the procession cannot go by every house in Albany, but it couldn’t be so arranged.

The capitol will be open for ladies and gentlemen accompanying them, at half-past eleven.

Look at the flag in front of Rev. Dr. Clark’s house at No. 65 North Pearl street and know that it has gone round the world, has floated over a Buddhist temple in Japan, and from the tycoon’s castle.

Don’t forget the unveiling of the tablet at the corner of Hudson Avenue and Broadway at seven o’clock.

The exercises at the capitol will take place at half-past twelve o’clock.

That was the general overview. There were also details about all the religious celebrations which were taking place at All Saints Cathedral, St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s, Emmanuel Baptist, the First Reformed Church, Temple Anshe Emeth and Congregation Beth-El. And then the Times laid out the orders of police Chief Maley:

No guns, pistols or cannon may be fired except in the business part of the city; and none whatever along the route of march during the passage of the procession; the streets must be kept clear of all vehicles and obstructions in advance of the procession, and State street, from Eagle to Broadway, must be kept entirely free from vehicles during the morning. In the evening no firing of guns or pistols will be allowed upon or in the neighborhood of State street. The use of powder-crackers and other fireworks will be permitted, but officers are strictly enjoined to arrest all persons found discharging pistols, fire-crackers, torpedoes or other fireworks or fire arms, in the crowd assembled to view the procession or fireworks, or when such fire-works, fire-arms or torpedoes are discharged by persons standing or walking in any street frequented by pedestrians or vehicles. Officers will also arrest all persons found using cartridges containing balls or bullets, or discharging small cannon in the streets frequented by vehicles, or during the passage of the procession in any street.

The New State Museum and Veterans Memorial Building

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1925 proposal new State Museum and office building crop

The plans of 1925 that would have created an entire complex of buildings around the State Capitol didn’t move forward at that time, although the long-awaited state office building that was the original reason for the clearing of the buildings from what became West Capitol Park finally came to fruition. The Alfred E. Smith State Office Building opened in 1928, only 14 years after what may not even have been the first motions in that direction. But the Smith building, making West Capitol Park permanent, and creating Lafayette Park didn’t resolve the state’s continuing need for more space, and even before the Smith building was finished there was a renewed push for a new building on State Street, where the Legislative Office Building is today.

At the beginning of 1931, Governor Roosevelt was backing a new state museum building, which would also relieve “clutter” in other offices, to go by the Times-Union’s account:

“The Governor suggested that a space can be provided in the building for storage of old records, which now clutter up most of the state offices. ‘A great deal of space can be thrown open in the State Office building, the Capitol and the Education building,’ he said, ‘by removing old records to the proposed museum building.’ Recent rental of downtown office quarters for state draftsmen called attention to the fact that the new State Office building, expected to take care of the state’s office needs for some years to come, is close to being overcrowded already with some of the bureau just moving in. State officials pointed out, however, that when plans for the new building were drawn it had not been expected that state activities would expand so greatly in such a brief time …

It is planned to construct the building in six stages, so carried out that the structure will be ready for use after the first is completed. When finished it will contain a large auditorium, quarters for the state museum, archives for historic relics and documents and a large room decorated in honor of New York state residents who lost their lives in the World war.”

At some point this came to be known not as the new State Museum building, but as the Memorial Building (or sometimes the Veterans Memorial Building). A couple of years later, nothing much had happened with it, and Mayor John Boyd Thacher 2d urged Governor Lehman to seek appropriation of funds for its construction, both to honor the veterans of the World War and to “aid materially in the relief of unemployment at this time.” The Times-Union said it had advocated for the building for several years, indicating that a State World War Memorial Commission appointed in 1930 had recommended

“the erection of a State building to be located in this city, and to include quarters for the State museum; for the State Bureau of Military Records; rooms for State Archives and Publications and an auditorium of size sufficient to accommodate large gatherings of people. These recommendations have been before the State authorities for over one year. The site favored by the commission is blocks bounded by State street, Hawk street [sic: Chestnut?], South Swan street and South Hawk street. The city, Mayor Thacher declares, is ready to deed the title to Chestnut street, between South Swan and South Hawk streets to the State.”

The argument, as had been made in 1925, was that the State Museum had outgrown its quarters in the State Education Building, and should be given larger quarters for the benefit of the public. “There should be a large bureau for the preservation and exhibits of war relics and records and other objects relating to the participation of New York State in the wars in which this nation has been engaged. There should likewise be fireproof quarters for the safe keeping of priceless records and documents of the State. And the Capital of New York should be provided with an auditorium adequate for the accommodation of large assemblages.”

The Hudson-Mohawk County Council of the Veterans of Foreign Wars got behind the campaign, along with the American Legion, giving the Times-Union credit for its campaign in favor of the building, again noting its benefits not only as a memorial but as a source of employment.

In 1934, the Albany Evening News reported that “Nothing happened until 1934, when the Legislature and Governor Lehman created the World War Memorial Authority with Edward M. Scheiberling as chairman.” That Authority had authority to issue bonds up to $12.5 million for the site and the structure, but tossed out the original building plans. But they couldn’t get the financing going (something about a Great Depression), and so the Authority sought help from Franklin Roosevelt, now less of a governor and more of a president. The plan they presented to the Public Works Authority would have been a five-story structure with a sub-basement garage for public parking, a basement garage for state cars, the new State Museum, a 3000-seat public auditorium, two floors of state offices, a War Memorial, and space for archives storage. They were seeking a $4.5 million grant from the feds. With that, they had a buyer for their bonds, and a commitment from the State superintendent of public works to “rent all future space needs of the state in the proposed structure.” It was expected that President Roosevelt, on his way to Albany, would be announcing the deal. Eventually, the federal Public Works Authority did promise the grant, if the authority could close its financial arrangements. In 1934, a deadline of Dec. 21 was set. And missed.

But that wasn’t the end. A year and a half later, in July 1936. The Authority had another deadline to meet, according to the July 9 Albany Evening News:

“One of the first duties of the World War Memorial Authority when it meets in Albany Monday will be to assure the federal government and PWA authorities, by resolution, that the $12,500,000 structure can be completed by July 1, 1938 … as preparations for the huge development speed up, it appeared today that contracts for much of the work will be under way by Dec. 1 of this year.

How the Authority is considering plans for including added revenue-producing units in the new structure was disclosed yesterday. These contemplate use of the 5,000-seat auditorium for commercial movies, a state garage, a private garage for parking cars on rental basis, and installation of commercial offices in one wing. State archives, war records, storage and offices would occupy much of the balance of the building.”

Next, we’ll tell you what happened. Until then, no spoilers.

The New State Capitol Complex

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Proposed State Office Building, 1925Before we were interrupted by the things that life puts in our way, we were focusing on the plans that led to tearing down an entire block of buildings just west of the State Capitol in order that a new state office building could be constructed there. After several years of dithering, plans started to come together in 1919, as the remaining businesses on the block were vacated and demolition begun. (We covered this all here and in the surrounding entries.) But like many things in Albany, plans for a new building, already previously deferred by the war, didn’t march forward expeditiously. As local business leaders started to clamor to turn that space into a park, it would be another few years before a solid plan for new state offices came together.

Then, as now, State departments were spread all over the city, with the state renting more than 200,000 square feet of office space (at an annual charge of about $250,000). Many departments were spread across multiple buildings, “which militates against the close cooperation that would promote efficiency.” Having departments with offices in the Capitol itself interfered with availability for elected officials, “which should be lodged in close proximity to the Governor’s quarters in the interest of coordination and efficiency … The offices in the Capitol formed by encroachment on corridors, stair halls and lobbies ought to be removed, not only because they are unsightly but also because some of them constitute a serious fire hazard.”

The State Museum, housed in the nearly new State Education Building, was already cramped for space, “expressing increasingly for room to expand. The museum exhibits cannot now be displayed to their best advantage because of inadequate floor space. This institution is of vast and growing importance as an educational agency in the State. The museum cannot be satisfactorily or economically accommodated in an administration or business building. Adequate provision must be made for its certain continued growth and expansion.”

Those are the considerations that led to a recommendation for an entire complex of buildings from a special commission, chaired by Mayor William S. Hackett, that called for what the New York Times reported, in 1925, as a“$10,000,000 Plan for State Offices.”

“The expenditure by the State of $10,000,000 for a group of buildings which, with the Capitol at their centre, would dominate the city and crown Capitol Hill with an architectural display worthy of the Empire State, in addition to furnishing needed office facilities for expanding activities and checking the encroachments of business, is recommended to Governor Smith in a report made public today by a special commission which has been considering such a project for a year.

A five-story office building of classical design to match the Educational Building and to cost, with land, $6,500,000, and a structure to house the State Museum, now located in the State Library section of the Department of Education Building, are included in the project which would involve the purchase by the State of an entire residential block to the south of the Capitol building and the better part of two blocks to the north and west. The proposed museum would cost, with the site included, $3,500,000, according to an estimate furnished by the commission.”

All this was to be paid by a bond issue of $100,000,000 for permanent improvements, which would have allowed the Legislature the issue $10 million a year for ten years to come to build office buildings, new penal and charitable institutions, normal schools, bridges and more. That was to include new office bujildings in New York City and Buffalo as well.

“Should the Governor’s desire be realized the State would own practically all the desirable property atop Capitol Hill. The threatened invasion by businesses of this section, already begun with the erection by the New York Telephone Company of a tall office building in close enough proximity to the Capitol to blanket that structure and mar the view of it from the southeast, would, the Governor believes, be checked effectively and for all time. The State Government would have for its home a group of buildings, symmetrically laid out, which would dominate the city and crown Capitol Hill with new dignity and beauty.”

This sounds something like a plan that didn’t come to fruition until more than 40 years later – although it’s unlikely Mayor Hackett could have imagined the scope that later efforts would take on. The commission’s proposal was that the Capitol would be the hug of a group of buildings, with a proposed new Museum Building to the west. By this time, what is now West Capitol Park was solidly regarded as such, so “to provide a site for the Museum Building the eastern end, nearest to the Capitol, of the entire block between Washington Avenue and State Street in Dove Street, which adjoins the site originally proposed for a new office building must be acquired. A site about 200 feet in depth is proposed. This would demand the demolition of residential structures, a modern apartment house and the Fort Orange Club, which ranks foremost in importance among the clubs of Albany.”

There was also thought given to closing Chestnut Street to extend the proposed site. Ultimately, of course, when the Alfred E. Smith State Office Building was finally built, the apartment house, the Fort Frederick Apartments, was moved, inch by inch, across State Street to its current location – with the tenants never having to move out, by the way. And the Fort Orange Club was not taken for State use, because there are some organizations even more powerful than State government.

Another aspect of the plan actually did come true, even though it didn’t contribute to the office plan at all. “The taking over of a small block east of the Educational Building and adjoining the Capitol on the north, or Washington Avenue, side, and converting it into a park is also proposed. It is occupied now by antiquated small structures, used in part for business and in part for residence. The State Street approach to Capitol Hill from the east is also to be widened by cutting back the northeastern corner of State and Eagle Streets by some fifty feet.” That became Lafayette Park.

But the rest of the plan didn’t happen. The Al Smith Building would be another few years off, and the State Museum would remain in the Education Building for another five decades.

After we posted this, Christopher Philippo was good enough to share a much better version of the proposed office building, as well as a plan for the entire Capitol Park complex:

1925 proposal new State Museum and office building Aerial Plan for Capitol Park 1925