What was there? Sunnymede Cottage

In the mid-1880s after completion of the Washington Park the Commissioners of the Park determined there needed to place for the Superintendent of the Park to live to be able to oversee the Park. They decided it couldn’t be in the Park itself (a residence would mar the grand vistas), but needed to be close. They purchased a piece of land a couple of blocks away on what was called the “Alms House Road”, to the rear of the Albany Penitentiary, (that’s what we know as Holland Ave. today), just on the corner of the New Scotland Plank Rd.

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At that time there was almost nothing there, except the Almshouse (about where the College of Pharmacy is today), a cluster of buildings (including an industrial school and a smallpox hospital) and a small farm surrounding the Almshouse. and the Penitentiary.

5An adorable fairy tale cottage was built with an almost fairy tale name, “Sunnymede”. Land was set aside for greenhouses, a nursery garden, storage buildings and barns. The Commissioners of Washington Park were given authority over all parks in the city; the cottage became the home of the City’s Superintendent of Parks and the Parks Dept.

Soon, the early 1890s, the Dudley Observatory was constructed down the road on So.Lake Ave. (demolished in the early 1970s for the Capital District Psych Center). Then came the Albany Orphan Asylum* on Academy Rd. (then Highland Ave.), Albany Hospital across the way and the New Scotland Ave. Armory* in the early 1900s. In the 1920s the Medical College re-located from Eagle St. to the Hospital. In the 1930s the Penitentiary behind Sunnymede was demolished. Albany Law School, the College of Pharmacy and Christian Brothers Academy (now used by the Pharmacy College) moved from downtown at about the same time and they were joined by a NYS Health Dept. lab. on New Scotland Ave.

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Even after the construction of the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in 1951 behind it (on what had been the Penitentiary grounds), the Parks Dept. remained snugged into that little corner.

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14Finally in 1964, after almost 80 years, the City sold land to the Hospital for??? A parking lot of course! With the money from the sale it built a new Parks Dept. in Hoffman Park just off Second Ave. Today, there’s a Hilton Garden Inn and, yes.. a parking garage in that location.

*Orphan Asylum buildings and the Armory are now part of the Sage College of Albany campus.

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Happy Birthday Frederic Remington – NYS Civil Servant

Yes… it’s true. Frederic Remington, legendary Western artist, began his professional artistic career while living in Albany and working as a NYS clerk.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz14463115_1098902510158010_1571781977939561995_nHe was born in Canton NY on October 4, 1861; the family then moved to Ogdensburg. After high school he became the first (and only, for the time) student to attend art school at Yale, but his father became ill, and he returned home after a couple of semesters. Upon the death of his father his uncle found him a well-paying job (about $1,200/year) as a clerk for State Government in Albany.

 

 

 

During those years, 1880 -1882, city directories list his address as 142 State St. (1 building down from Eagle), about where the Renaissance Hotel (a/k/a DeWitt Clinton) is located today.zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz14595687_1098902660157995_716157162025590146_n

In 1881, Fred (as he was called) took a vacation out West with a friend and was smitten. He returned to Albany and worked on sketches from the trip. He submitted one to Harper’s Weekly (allegedly on a piece of wrapping paper) and it was accepted for a February 1882 issue.

 

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz14523198_1098902923491302_6247921815322569543_nUsing a legacy from his father, he cleared out of Albany and by March 1883 Remington purchased a ranch in Peabody Kansas. That didn’t work out so well, but he kept on drawing for Harper’s and within about 5 years became an artist of major repute, both in the U.S. and across the world.

The moral of the story? NEVER underestimate the talents of a NYS civil servant.

 

 

 

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