Ten Broeck Historic District
The Ten Broeck Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Text, below, was adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [*] Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
Situated around two small urban parks and the monumental St. Joseph's Church, the ninety-seven townhouses of the Ten Broeck Historic District represent a nineteenth-century streetscape which survives virtually intact. This self-contained, residential enclave is located just north of downtown Albany in an area known as Arbor Hill.
The district is roughly triangular in shape and encompasses all the houses facing the parks, including the Ten Broeck Mansion and its grounds in the northwest corner of the district (listed in the National Register, August 21, 1971). Also included is a block of Ten Broeck Street at the southern end, which is integral to the district and forms the gateway to the park enclave from Clinton Avenue.
The northern boundary is drawn to exclude a redeveloped Urban Renewal area which abuts the district to the north of Livingston Avenue. The southern boundary of the district is formed by Clinton Avenue. This wide, two-mile long street is not considered integral to the Ten Broeck District, but might be considered for separate future National Register listing. The entire length of Clinton Avenue is lined with nineteenth-century row houses, mostly speculative housing and less imposing than those in the Ten Broeck District. Unlike the Ten Broeck area, Clinton Avenue is interrupted by gaps where fires and demolitions have occurred.
The Ten Broeck Historic District includes several buildings of exceptional architectural interest as described below, and no modern intrusions. Most of the district was developed between 1845 and 1875. The earliest houses dating from the 1840's (nos. 33, 70, 71 Ten Broeck Street) are frame structures presently covered, with modern siding. The houses of the 1850's - 1870's are primarily constructed of brick, often trimmed with brownstone, but several are faced entirely with brownstone (nos. 13, 18, 20, 22, 67 Ten Broeck Street, 10 Hall Place, 5 and 11 St. Joseph's Terrace). The mid-nineteenth century houses are generally Italianate in style, usually two to three stories high, with bracketed cornices. Nos. 1, 69, 105 Ten Broeck Street and 5, 6, and 8 Hall Place have Mansard roofs. The twelve buildings on St. Joseph's Terrace, which was not subdivided until 1891, date from the turn of the century but reflect the scale of the earlier Italianate rows on First Street, Hall Place and Ten Broeck Street. The two-story lattice work porches on 2-6 Hall Place date from 1859 and are an important visual element of the district.
Dwarfing the intimate scale of the surrounding houses, the district's two churches give the Ten Broeck area an added dimension of grandeur, Sweet Pilgrim Baptist Church, the less imposing of the two, stands on the corner of Clinton Avenue and Ten Broeck Street, marking the approach to the district. The impact of this Gothic-style, brick and limestone church (1876-77) has been diminished by the removal of its spire in the 1960's. Set between two parks (St. Joseph's Park on the south and Van Rensselaer Park on the north), St. Joseph's Church is the focal point of the district. Designed by Patrick Keeley, this massive Gothic-style church (1855-60) is constructed of Schenectady bluestone and was originally trimmed with French Caen limestone, moat of which is now replaced with more durable Indiana, limestone. The front tower and spire of St. Joseph's was completed about 1910 by M. L. and H. G. Emery of Albany.
Built by Albany's "lumber barons" and other industrialists during the latter half of the nineteenth century, this self-contained residential enclave clustered around two parks and a Catholic church survives today as a significant concentration of urban residential architecture. Still visually coherent, the Ten Broeck Historic District contains no modern intrusions, and only two small gaps (on First Street and Ten Broeck Street), break the continuous urban streetscapes which line the three sides of this triangular-shaped district.
Aloof from the Victorian row houses and parks which constitute much of the district, the Ten Broeck Mansion (1797-98) is set on its own spacious grounds in the northwest corner of the district. This handsome Federal style house was built for Abraham Ten Broeck, a prominent Revolutionary War figure, delegate to the Continental Congress and later State Senator and Mayor of Albany. The entire district which now bears his name was once undeveloped land surrounding the mansion, which commanded an unobstructed view down to the Hudson River.
In 1764 Stephen Van Rensselaer designated the land now known as Van Rensselaer Park as a burial ground for all inhabitants of the manor of Rensselaerwyck. Eighty years later, in 1845, the relocation of this small, neglected cemetery was a turning point in the development of the Ten Broeck area as a fashionable residential quarter. By that time Ten Broeck Street, First Street, Second Street, and Ten Broeck Place had been laid out near Clinton Avenue, but were only beginning to be developed. According to a contemporary account, the ground of the cemetery "was much higher than the adjoining streets and lots; the soil loose and sandy, was easily washed away; and hence from time to time the coffins and bones of the dead were exposed." One of the leading advocates of the removal of this old burying ground was Joseph Hall for whom Hall Place was named when opened up in 1849. Hall, a gardener, lived around the corner at 16 Ten Broeck Place (then known as Third Street).
The landscaping improvements of the 1840's gave rise to the prodigious development of the Ten Broeck area in the 1850's, during which over one-third of the district's one hundred houses were built, including most of those on Hall Place and. First Street. In 1855, ground was broken for the monumental Catholic church in the center of the district, designed by noted ecclesiastical architect, Patrick Keeley of Brooklyn. When completed, St. Joseph's rivaled Keeley's other Albany work, the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception (1848-52, National Register) on the south side of the city. During the period 1850-1870, the newly-developed neighborhood became known as "Millionaire's Row," famous as the home of rich lumber merchant families with names such as Hubbell, Crannell, and Thomas. Their homes overlooked the lumber yards on the banks of the Hudson River.
The Ten Broeck District remained popular through the 1890's, when former Albany Mayor, Michael Nolan and many prosperous merchants continued to live here. St. Joseph's Terrace was laid out in 1881 and subdivided in 1891. The two well-proportioned apartment buildings constructed here in the early twentieth century illustrate the shift from large single-family houses to smaller dwelling units in this part of Albany. By the 1920's, most of the old Ten Broeck area families who had been owner-occupants had moved to the new semi-suburban sections on the fringes of the growing city. Though most of the mid-nineteenth century houses are presently divided into apartments and owned by absentee landlords, the Ten Broeck District retains its architectural integrity and is the focus of private and public rehabilitation projects.
Albany City Department of Urban Redevelopment, Historic Resources - Albany. Albany: Department of Urban Redevelopment, 1976.
Howell, George R. and Jonathan Tenney. Bicentennial History of Albany. New York: W. W. Munsell & Co., 1886.
Louden, M. J. Catholic Albany. Albany: Published by Peter Donnelly, 1895.
Munsell, Joel. Annals of Albany, Vol. X, Albany: Munsell & Rowland Printers, 1859.
Parker, Amasa J. ed. Landmarks of Albany County. Syracuse, N.Y.: D. Mason & Co., 1857.
City of Albany Tax Assessment Rolls. Files of the Pruyn Room, Albany Public Library.
* Gilder, Cornelia Brooke, Ten Broeck Historic District, nomination document, 1978, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.