ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Albany has many historic buildings including the State Capitol, Ten Broeck Mansion, the Schuyler Mansion, and Cherry Hill, but there’s one building that’s the oldest. The Historic Albany Foundation said the building at 48 Hudson Avenue, also known as the Van Ostrande-Radliff House, was built in 1728 and is documented to be the oldest in Albany.
The Van Ostrande-Radliff House is only one of two Dutch-style buildings remaining in Albany. The other is the Quackenbush House, which is now the Olde English Pub. The style consists of a series of H-bents, or timber framing structures that resemble the capital letter “H.” The house had two jambless fireplaces. The framing for the house’s side jambless fireplace is the only one known to be left in the United States, said the Historic Albany Foundation.
However, the house was only first identified as a Dutch building in the 1980s after the demolition of its neighboring buildings, which left the front gabled roof exposed. The gable had been hidden from view since the 1930s, so it appeared to be an ordinary 19th-century commercial building.
Albany alderman Johannes Van Ostrande was the one who built the house in 1728. He and his wife had 14 children between 1713 and 1739, five of which were born in the house.
In 1790, Johannes Radliff, the next owner, altered the house to make it both taller and wider. The roof rafters were raised up about five feet. The building was also widened to create a carriage pass-through on the first floor and a wider second story above.
According to the Historic Albany Foundation, the building was occupied by Samuel Norton, a mason, as noted in the 1813 City Directory. The next owner, Jared Holt, bought the property in 1832. He lived in the house and built a three-story brick addition in the back for his leather goods business.
The Historic Albany Society said Holt was the last to live in the house. The next owner, George Stoneman, ran a dry goods business in the building and later added the one-story brick addition to the back in 1892. In the early 20th century, the building had several tenants including Kibbe’s Candy and Long Trucking. In 1935, the Sauls bought the building and ran Saul’s Restaurant Supply there until the late 1990s.
The Historic Albany Foundation acquired the Van Ostrande-Radliff House, by donation, in 2013 to ensure that it wouldn’t be demolished. In 2016, the adjoining building at 50 Hudson Avenue had to be demolished as it was at risk of collapsing. That building was built around 1800.
The Historic Albany Foundation is currently in the midst of a five-phase, $3 million project to restore the Van Ostrande-Radliff House. Cara Macri, Director of Preservation Services for the Historic Albany Foundation, tells NEWS10 that the first two phases have been completed, which stabilized the building by building new foundation walls and restoring the timber framing.
For the next three phases, Historic Albany is working on restoring the exterior and interior of the building. When the project is finished, Historic Albany said the outside will appear as it did in 1728, but the inside will not. The finishes and partitions that were removed in earlier renovations will not be recreated.
The project is in part funded by a grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, as well as other grants and state tax credits. Historic Albany is accepting donations from the public as well, and you can donate on the Historic Albany Foundation website.
Macri said they expect work on the final phases to start in July 2023 and be finished by December 2024. And what’s going to happen to the building after it’s fully restored? Macri said it will be the new home of the Historic Albany Foundation.
The building will house Historic Albany’s Architectural Parts Warehouse, Tool Lending Library, a classroom space, and offices. Once they move into the building, they’ll host tours and lectures for the public. Macri said Historic Albany had been looking for a new home for a while.
Historic Albany hosts First Friday Hard Hat Tours to show the public the Van Ostrande-Radliff House during its renovation. Macri said the tour will not be available in November, but there will be a tour on the first Saturday of December.