Clinton Avenue Historic District

Albany City, Albany County, NY

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Text, below, was adapted from a copy of the original National Register nomination document; National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C., [1988] author(s) unknown.

Introduction [1]

The Clinton Avenue Historic District is located immediately north of the oldest settled portion of Albany, which is now the city's central business district, listed on the National Register in 1980 as the Downtown Albany Historic District. Most of the Clinton Avenue district's buildings are concentrated along the broad avenue from which it takes its name. Clinton Avenue between North Pearl and Quail streets forms the main axis of the district. Perpendicular streets intersect the avenue at fairly regular intervals for its entire length and buildings along some of these streets are included within the historic district's boundaries. North Pearl Street between Clinton and Livingston Avenues and a small part of Livingston Avenue and Wilson Street adjacent to North Pearl compose the northern part of the district. Several blocks west of North Pearl, parts of Lark and Elk Streets as well as Lexington Avenue and First Street adjacent to Clinton Avenue are also included.

The Clinton Avenue Historic District is one portion of the large-scale development which characterized the entire area of the city north of Downtown Albany throughout the nineteenth century. This larger area, which generally extends about one mile northward along the Hudson River and more than one and one-half miles in a westerly direction from the riverbank, retains much of its nineteenth-century historic character and is the location of several historic districts listed on the National Register. They include the Arbor Hill Historic District (listed 1979, expanded 1984); the Broadway/Livingston Historic District, and the Broadway Row Historic District, both listed in 1988.

Because of demolition and redevelopment of some parts of this northern section of Albany, an area which once consisted of unbroken historic fabric, it has become fragmented by open space. For this reason, separate historic district boundaries have been drawn to take in as much remaining historic fabric as possible.

The eastern portion of the Clinton Avenue Historic District was the scene of scattered demolition during the late 1960s and 1970s. This demolition most often consisted of the removal of one or two adjacent buildings in a row, but in a few cases, large numbers of buildings were removed in one location. Although a few of these locations within the district presently exist as large open spaces, the overall appearance of the streetscape has not been irreparably damaged. For the most part, blockfaces are characterized by nearly unbroken rows of nineteenth-century residential buildings, thereby giving the district a remarkable degree of architectural unity and homogeneity. There are five hundred and seventy-six buildings within the boundaries of the Clinton Avenue Historic District, of which only twenty are non-contributing. Thirteen of these intrusions are modern buildings such as auto repair garages, one-story modern supermarkets or commercial buildings, a large taxicab garage, and a bowling alley. The remaining non-contributing buildings are two modern churches, and five residences now under construction. (These residences are compatible with other buildings in the district in scale and materials but are clearly contemporary in detailing.)

The boundaries of the Clinton Avenue Historic District include the greatest concentration of speculative middle-class brick rowhousing constructed in the northern end of the city of Albany between c.1830 and the end of the nineteenth century. The vast majority of the nearly six hundred buildings which compose the district fit into this category. They are, for the most part, two-or three-story attached masonry townhouses with two or three bays and projecting stoops. The remainder are wood frame houses along Clinton Avenue similar to those of brick, institutional buildings such as churches, schools and municipal buildings, as well as the city's most important surviving historic theater, individually listed on the National Register. Intrusions such as modern garages and supermarkets are few in number.


Although the boundary delineation is very complex, the district can be divided into four discrete sections for purposes of description. These include; North Pearl Street and adjacent streets, Livingston, Wilson and Clinton Square; Clinton Avenue itself, from North Pearl to Quail; Lark Street, including Elk; and Lexington Avenue, including First Street.

North Pearl Street

This section of North Pearl Street consists of two long blocks broken in the middle by Wilson Street, a short street running from Broadway to Ten Broeck Street for a total of two blocks. At 5 and 7 Wilson are two residences, the earlier (#7, from 1875) a typical brick Italianate house from the period with iron hoods and mills and a bracketed wood cornice. At 5 Wilson is a brick rowhouse with a Queen Anne style three-sided oriel with a panelled center bay and a pedimented gable above the third floor, a feature more common to wood freestanding houses of the period.

North Pearl Street at Clinton is dominated by the Palace Theatre (National Register listed, 1979), a massive building whose original marquee has been replaced with a modern metal and glass structure. The longer side of the building faces North Pearl and is decorated with tapestry brick of various colors and a windowless facade pierced only by side doors and fire escapes. The height of the Palace steps down toward the north. On the west side of the street adjacent to the theatre are two pressed brick detached rowhouses dating from the early twentieth century.

Three older brick houses stand immediately north of these. All have brownstone basements, door surrounds and lintels and sills. Two retain their original simple brick frieze and modillioned cornices, while the third has had its cornice removed and its facade covered with aluminum siding. Brick Italianate rowhouses are located at the corner of North Pearl and Wilson. Those from the 1870s have iron hoods and sills while the earlier building has brownstone trim. All have bracketed wood cornices. Just north of this group are three rowhouses from the 1840s which retain their simple detail.

At the center of the block is the former School #5. This massive brick building features a rusticated stone basement and pressed brick walls above. Windows are capped by segmental arches with prominent keystones. Terra cotta decoration includes spandrels above the entry arch, a "Public School" panel and a date panel of 1882. A corbelled brick cornice caps the facade today, although this has been altered.

Immediately north of the school is a former police station, constructed in 1911 in a Georgian Revival style typical of early twentieth century public buildings. Rowhouses from the early 1840s and a stone-fronted building which now houses a church complete the west side north to Livingston Avenue.

The east side of North Pearl between Wilson and Livingston is characterized by small groups of rowhouses from the 1850s through the early 1900s. At 201-203 and 205-207 North Pearl are two pairs of identical two-bay Italianate style brick houses from the 1850s and 1870s, respectively. Both groups feature bracketed wood cornices. The early buildings' openings are trimmed in stone, the later pairs' in iron. An unusual building is present at 207 1/2 North Pearl, which was inserted in a narrow lot between two existing buildings in 1887. The building has stone arched openings on the first floor. The entire one-bay facade is constructed of pressed brick with stone trim.

North of a vacant lot is a nearly unbroken row of primarily stone-fronted buildings at 221-243 North Pearl. Constructed in several stages between 1888 and 1910, the residential structures in this row feature, with two exceptions, rusticated stone facades or trim, round-arched openings, and corbelled cornices. A former stable and a pressed brick house from c.1910 are present in the row.

West of the corner of Livingston and North Pearl are three identical Italianate style brick houses at 96-100 Livingston, constructed in 1863. Two have been covered with permastone but retain all decorative trim elements. Returning to Clinton Avenue and North Pearl Street, three buildings remain facing the park once known as Clinton Square (now Clinton Place). The house at 3 Clinton Place is probably the oldest remaining building in the Clinton Avenue Historic District, dating from 1833, and is also one of the most architecturally significant. It is three full brick stories in height above a stone basement with matching stoop. The recessed entry door is surrounded by a stone entablature and pilasters as well as fluted columns in antis. Lintels and sills are flat stone. A bracketed wood cornice was added later in the nineteenth century and the building has a gabled roof perpendicular to the facade. At 5 Clinton Place is a building which dates from the same era but was altered several times. Number 4 Clinton Place is an Italianate style commercial and residential building with iron hoods and a bracketed wood cornice. It dates from the 1850s.

Clinton Avenue

In general terms, development along Clinton Avenue proceeded from east to west, a pattern which reflected the general development pattern of the entire City of Albany. Consequently, the earliest buildings are clustered close to the original settled area of the city at the eastern end of the avenue, as it begins its steep climb to the western reaches of the nineteenth-century populated area. Later buildings in this eastern section of Clinton Avenue, like those on North Pearl Street from the same era, were built on the sites of earlier buildings that were demolished.

At the northwest corner of Clinton Avenue and North Pearl Street is the Palace Theatre, which presents a different face to Clinton Avenue from its nearly solid wall along North Pearl. Just west of the main entrance at the corner are two small storefronts with large plate glass windows and recessed entries. On the second floor above these are large areas filled with casement windows and trimmed with stone. Above the center window in each group is a swan's neck pediment supported by single brackets at either end. Volute buttresses mark the upper ends of brick quoins at the corner of each storefront. Parapet walls are capped with stone which matches other stone trim on the storefronts. Apparently the owners of the theatre were not able to assemble a regularly shaped parcel of land at the time of construction of the building, since it surrounds two older buildings at 27 and 27 1/2 Clinton Avenue.

Aside from the dominating presence of the Palace Theatre, the north side of Clinton Avenue between North Pearl and Ten Broeck Streets contains six brick or stone front houses ranging in age from the 1840s to 1888. The earlier buildings had simple lintels and sills, some of which were altered with iron or stone details; bracketed cornices were added later in the nineteenth century. Two buildings have gabled roofs with eyebrow windows, suggesting an early date. Numbers 27 1/2 and 29 1/2 Clinton are identical rusticated stone-fronted commercial/residential buildings with oriel windows with panelled spandrels above the storefronts. On the south side of Clinton Avenue opposite the Palace at the corner of Chapel Street is the headquarters of the Salvation Army, housed in a three-story pressed brick structure which shows the influence of Italian Renaissance design. To the west of the Salvation Army is a playground, some surface parking areas, and a large modern commercial building opposite Ten Broeck which is an intrusion in the district. On the north side of Clinton Avenue between Ten Broeck and North Hawk Streets are sixteen buildings constructed between the early 1840s and 1860. They exhibit characteristics of the Greek Revival and Italianate styles and some combine elements of both. All buildings except two were originally constructed of common brick above a high brownstone basement. Two have brick basements and in three cases, storefronts were installed at the basement level. All have high stoops, some of which are brownstone, and some original railings remain.

The earlier buildings in the block have flush lintels and plain sills. Those constructed in the 1850s have molded stone lintels. Some buildings have simple bracketed stone hoods above their recessed entryways. High-style Greek Revival pilasters and entablatures surround the doorways at 69, 73 and 75 Clinton, while high-style Italianate entries featuring pilasters and pediments supported by foliated carved stone consoles are present at 85-91 Clinton. Oriel windows have been added on some buildings. Cornices range from brick friezes with dentils at 61 and 63 to bracketed or modillioned cornices on all other buildings on the block. All roofs are flat.

On the south side of the same block, a wider range of building types and architectural styles are featured. The earliest buildings on this side also date from the 1840s. Similar to those opposite, all brick buildings have high stone or brick basements and recessed entryways reached by high stone stoops. At 72, 90 and 92 Clinton are cornices featuring brick friezes and dentils and flat roofs. The pair of identical buildings at 62 and 64 Clinton have early Italianate cornices with paired brackets and gabled roofs. An early wood cottage exists at 68 Clinton Avenue. This building features battered and shouldered architraves on all facade openings and a gabled roof.

Intermingled with these early buildings are several houses constructed in the 1850s. These feature, for the most part, high sandstone basements and stoops, lintels and sills which are carved and project from the plane of the facade. Recessed entries have bracketed hoods. Cornices are modillioned or bracketed. The most outstanding building from this period is 52 Clinton Avenue, which has segmentally arched lintels on all upper facade openings. The entryway lintel is supported by boldly carved stone brackets. Wood brackets adorn the cornice.

A pair of narrow two-bay Italianate style residences from the 1870s stand at 42 and 44 Clinton. They have iron trim at the openings, oriel windows above the recessed entry and wood bracketed cornices. Another Italianate style house with stone trim stands at 70 Clinton. A matched group of three unusual brick rowhouses exists at 54-58 Clinton. Constructed in 1883 by builder James Eaton, these pressed brick houses have two-story oriel windows supported by large brackets surrounding a first-story window. Another building from this era exists at 74 Clinton. It is also constructed of pressed brick and its segmentally arched windows and door have decorated keystones and brick voussoirs.

The block between North Hawk and North Swan Streets presents a nearly unbroken row of brick houses on the north side of Clinton Avenue. At the northwest corner of North Hawk is a very early building which was modernized in the late nineteenth century through the addition of a basement level storefront, oriel windows, and modillioned cornice. Several other buildings in the block were constructed prior to the Civil War. They are in the Italianate style and feature common brick construction, flush stone lintels and sills, some of which were altered later in the century, bracketed or modillioned cornices, and flat roofs. In some cases, commercial uses have been installed on the first floor. Examples of this type include 107-111, 131, a group of six identical buildings at 133-143, and 145-153 Clinton. Labor buildings in the block are also in this style but have stone or iron lintels, sills and door hoods that project more boldly from the facade. A particularly notable group stands at 115-119 Clinton, built in 1878 and featuring tall and narrow proportions, oriel windows, and elaborately detailed wood cornices.

The south side of Clinton Avenue has been the scene of the greatest amount of demolition along the avenue in recent years. Now standing isolated at the corner of Hawk and Clinton is a finely detailed Italianate style brick house with projecting stone lintels and sills and a pedimented and bracketed entry. The facade is capped by a wood bracketed cornice. A pressed yellow brick firehouse also stands isolated, several yards west of the corner house.

The vast majority of the remaining buildings in this block date from the 1840s or 1850s. Wood frame buildings from that era exist at 132, 136, 150 and 152 Clinton. An elaborate bracketed cornice was added to 132 Clinton but 150 and 152 retain their simpler appearance with modillioned or bracketed cornices and gabled roofs. A commercial unit has been installed at 152. Like other Italianate brick houses in the vicinity, those in this block have common brick facades, simple stone lintels and sills and bracketed wood cornices.

In the early 1880s, three narrow identical brick Queen Anne style houses were constructed at 152 1/2, 154 and 154 1/2 Clinton. Each features an arched window on the first floor and a two-sided oriel window capped with a conical roof on the second floor. A gable caps each facade. About ten years later, Peter Delaney, who almost single-handedly developed the Lark Street section of the Clinton Avenue Historic District, constructed three brick buildings which have stone arches above windows and doors and oriel windows on the second floor. Wood bracketed cornices cap the facades and roofs are flat.

In the next block of Clinton Avenue, the north side is unbroken by a cross street for the distance of approximately one-quarter mile, since Dove Street begins at Clinton and travels southward. In this block are forty-nine structures, of which forty are Italianate style rowhouses constructed between 1868 and 1880. Three buildings remain from prior to 1868 and the remainder date from after 1880.

Two-story brick Italianate style houses remain at 205 and 209 Clinton. They were constructed c.1858 and 1863, respectively, and have flat stone lintels and sills, wood bracketed cornices, and flat roofs. At 217 Clinton is a two-story frame house from 1860, which has an unusual front porch and a gabled roof.

Nine of the forty Italianate style houses on this block constructed in the period between 1868 and 1880 are of wood frame construction above high brick basements. They feature clapboard walls, simple decoration surrounding recessed doors and windows, and bracketed wood cornices. The best example of the group stands at 261 Clinton, where elaborate bracketed window hoods remain intact. This is one of the few examples in the group which had not been covered with modern siding prior to its recent rehabilitation. Commercial storefronts had also been installed in the basements of some of these structures in the early twentieth century. They are still present.

With few exceptions, the Italianate style brick rowhouses in this block have the following characteristics, and these same architectural features are prevalent on Clinton Avenue from Swan Street westward to Lexington Avenue, a distance of four blocks. Buildings are constructed of common brick with basements of either brick or sandstone. Windows and doors are trimmed almost exclusively with cast-iron hoods and sills and elements of identical design appear in buildings constructed around the same date or by the same builder. Some buildings are trimmed with stone, but they are rare west of Swan Street. Proportions became taller and narrower and, further west on Clinton, rows of identical houses up to eighteen in number were constructed. Wood bracketed cornices can be found capping virtually all facades, and all roofs are flat.

Outstanding examples in the block are the following: 155 Clinton, at the corner of Swan (1876), which has an original iron storefront at the first floor, with elaborately detailed lintels and sills and a bracketed wood cornice on both the Clinton Avenue and Swan Street facades; 161 Clinton, also from 1876, with a white marble base, lintels and sills; 179-189 Clinton, a row of identical three-story houses constructed in 1871 by Gibson Oliver, one of the most prolific builders in Albany during the period; 203 Clinton (1872), with an unusual cornice featuring only one bracket at each end and a continuous decorated wood frieze panel; and 269 and 275 Clinton, with iron and wood original storefront details visible after a recent rehabilitation. Five other buildings of this character were later infill between existing buildings and were constructed between 1880 and 1914.

The imposing brick building at 163 Clinton Avenue opposite South Swan Street was constructed in 1886 as Public School #7. Designed by local architect Ernest Hoffman and constructed by builder Attilio Pasquini, the facade of the building exhibits a three-part composition. At the center of the first floor is a round-arched doorway forming the center of a Palladian motif. This is repeated at the two stories above with paired arched windows flanked by rectangular windows. At either side of this central division are gabled wings which feature grouped, rectangular and arched windows. Terra cotta decoration enlivens the pressed brick facade.

The preponderance of Italianate style brick rowhouses which characterizes the north side of Clinton between Swan and Lark is also present on the south side in the two blocks between those streets. Wooden houses of a character similar to those of the north side are more common between Swan and Dove Streets, however, giving the south side a less unified appearance. Buildings in these blocks which are notable include the following: 160-164 Clinton (1859), trimmed with sandstone; 168 Clinton (1880), an individually built Queen Anne style house with a projecting gabled pavilion, a three-sided oriel window on the second floor, and iron cresting at the roofline; 206 and 208 Clinton (1866), clapboard rowhouses with elaborate modillioned and bracketed cornices; 216 Clinton (1872), at the corner of Dove Street, which includes an intact historic first floor storefront; 222 Clinton (1886), a brick rowhouse which features a Queen Anne style oriel window on the second floor and a gabled parapet; 250-272 Clinton, a nearly unbroken row of two-story brick Italianate style rowhouses constructed mainly in the 1870s and featuring iron window and door trim and wood bracketed cornices.

The pattern of rows of two- and three-story brick Italianate style houses with iron trim and wood cornices established in the easterly portion of the district continues in the block between Lark Street and Northern Boulevard. Notable buildings or groups at this location include 277-283 Clinton (1873), a corner commercial and residential structure with matching residences adjacent; 289 Clinton (1878), an individual three-story brick rowhouse which has an oriel window gracing the first and second floors; 291-315 (313 demolished) Clinton, originally an eighteen-building row constructed in 1878, with bold bracketed cornices and three-sided bay windows; 321 Clinton (1888), a two-story wood frame Italianate rowhouse with an oriel window; and 323 Clinton (1888), a two-story pressed brick house with pressed metal fish-scale "shingles" on its second story oriel window. On the south side of the street between Lark and Northern are twenty Italianate style buildings, of which the following are outstanding: 278 Clinton, at the corner of Lark (1874), a mixed commercial/residential building which retains its original cast-iron storefront; 288-294 Clinton (1876), with oriel windows above their doors; 306 Clinton (1882), once the home of roofer William Ackroyd and featuring a stamped metal cornice, and 310 Clinton, a one-story brick commercial building which once housed a laundry and features a corbelled brick cornice.

The north side of Clinton Avenue between Northern Boulevard and Lexington Avenue is characterized by short rows of identical Italianate style residences at each end of the block with commercial units at the corners and a mixture of building types between these rows. Among the types represented are single Italianate brick and wood frame rowhouses, unusual brick houses from the 1880s, two small wooden cottages, a large freestanding wood frame house, and a large brick church. The Italianate rows include three buildings at the corner of Northern constructed in 1873 by Thomas Scott, a carpenter, and six from the same year at the Lexington corner by carpenter John Brownlow, himself a resident of Clinton Avenue. These buildings and those in the remainder of the block exhibit the characteristics described earlier. Some of the wood frame Italianate style houses have been covered with aluminum siding. Intact examples of the type are present at 391-395 Clinton.

A pair of wooden cottages with gabled roofs and pronounced returns exist at 377 and 379 Clinton. Two brick rowhouses from the 1880s with individual designs at 355 and 357 Clinton have stone trim, and one has a Queen Anne style oriel and gabled parapet. The church belongs to the Congregation of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Czestochowa and was constructed in the twentieth century, when this section of the district was populated by large numbers of people of Polish extraction. It is constructed of brick with a corner tower and large pointed arched windows.

The opposite side of Clinton in this block contains twenty-seven Italianate style brick houses, all of which were constructed between 1871 and 1876. The continuity of the block is interrupted by two modern intrusions, a one-story supermarket at 360 Clinton and a bowling alley at 368 Clinton. These buildings stand on sites which had been occupied by industrial buildings in the nineteenth century. In the historic groups, typically, commercial units are present in each of the corner buildings. At the corner of Northern is a storefront which appears to date from the original construction date of the building (1871) and features piers, double doors, and a complete cornice. Variations on the usual features are present in a row of seven buildings from 1872 with three-sided bay windows and a row of eight residences from 1875 with oriel windows above the recessed doorways.

Brick rowhouse construction continued at an undiminished pace west of Lexington Avenue, but this cross street marks the appearance of Queen Anne and Romanesque style buildings in large numbers along Clinton Avenue. At the northwest corner of the two avenues is the former St. Luke's Methodist Church, an imposing Gothic Revival style church constructed in 1883 and now vacant. It features a prominent corner tower, brick and stone buttresses and pointed arched windows. Immediately west of it is a row of nine houses, of which seven are identical Queen Anne style buildings constructed by builder William Kelly in 1880, around the same time he built an adjacent row on Lexington Avenue. They are three stories tall above a high brick basement. They have bay windows to the second floors and gabled pavilions above. Stone trim includes lintels and sills, keystones on arched openings, and parapet wall caps. Between the western end of this row and the corner of Judson Street are scattered buildings dating from the last quarter of the century, including a large freestanding wood frame house with a mansard roof and later porch, and wood frame and masonry Italianate style houses. At the corner of Judson is a one-story modern intrusion which houses an auto repair shop.

The south side of the same block between Lexington and Robin contains a similar mix of building types and architectural styles. At the southwest corner of Lexington and Clinton sits a two-story pressed brick American Foursquare type house, unusual in the district. Built in 1905, it features oriel windows, brick quoins, and a single dormer piercing each side of its hipped roof. Adjacent to it is an early twentieth century rowhouse which employs similar features. Scattered freestanding and attached houses punctuate the eastern portion of the block, including an Italianate style cottage at 420 Clinton which is similar to houses constructed in small villages throughout the second half of the nineteenth century. The middle of the block is characterized by the finest row of stone fronted houses on Clinton Avenue exhibiting both Romanesque and Queen Anne style features. Constructed in 1889 by real estate developer Robert Weir, the eight identical buildings feature arched first floor windows, two-sided second floor oriel windows, and gabled parapet walls with cornices. Adjacent to the row are three individually constructed buildings from the same year and one from the early twentieth century. Designed with some of the same features as the stone row, the buildings are visually compatible and form an integral part of the streetscape.

West of this row is a large freestanding structure built as a cigar factory in the first quarter of the twentieth century. Although its windows have been altered, its symmetrical tapestry brick facade trimmed with light masonry retains some original character. It presently houses the Salvation Army social services center.

Between the Salvation Army and Robin Street are some individually built rowhouses and a short, brick row constructed in 1885. At the corner stands a commercial and residential Italianate style building from 1876.

The eastern half of the north side of Clinton Avenue west of Judson Street is covered by a row of seventeen brick houses from the late 1880s and early 1890s, most of which is named McPherson Terrace, after the owner of a former farm on the site. The earlier section (1888) is composed of nine buildings now known as 7-15 McPherson, a group of common brick buildings which are symmetrically placed on either side of the center building whose gabled parapet contains the words "McPherson Terrace carved in terra cotta. Facades alternate between two-bay buildings with flat parapets and buildings with second story oriel, windows and gabled parapets. In 1891, the row was extended eastward according to the designs of Albany architects Ogden and Wright. These buildings have pressed brick facades, oriel windows, and dormers which alternate between simple gables and Jacobean style gables across the six-building row. At the western end of the row are buildings which are architecturally compatible but not part of either group.

The Hope Baptist Church, a brick building constructed in 1888, stands adjacent to the western end of this row. It shows influences of the Romanesque style in its use of round arched windows and a corner tower capped with a pyramidal roof.

West of the church is a group of scattered wood frame and brick buildings, most of which were constructed in the 1880s. Just east of North Lake Avenue is a row of ten houses, the majority of which are typical Italianate style buildings constructed by builder C.W. Gibson and real estate developer J.B. Emerson in 1876. At the northeast corner of North Lake and Clinton avenues is the Albany Guardian Society, constructed in 1870 as the Home of the Friendless. This three-story nearly square freestanding building exhibits characteristics typical of Italianate buildings of the period, such as iron hoods and sills and a modillioned cornice. It is trimmed with brick quoins, features a stone foundation, and is surrounded by an iron fence.

At the southwest corner of Clinton Avenue and Robin Street is the Grace and Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, an unobtrusive brick building constructed in 1951 and set back from the corner. The remainder of this side of the street is composed of a mixture of wood frame and brick houses constructed in the second half of the nineteenth century. Among the most outstanding are 512 Clinton, a two-story brick house trimmed with stone and brick corbelling, 526 Clinton, a two-story wood frame house whose first floor has been altered but the upper floor retains its original window hoods and cornice, and 534 Clinton, a one and one-half story wood frame house on a high brick basement. The house features a gabled roof typical of Albany frame houses of this period.

The block between North Lake Avenue and Quail Street contains the westernmost groups of speculative brick rowhouses along Clinton Avenue. Adjacent to a one-story modern supermarket at the northwest corner of Clinton and Lake is a row of seven buildings constructed between 1870 and 1875 by German-born carpenter Philip Menges. Like their counterparts to the east, the buildings have iron door and window hoods and wood bracketed cornices. West of this row is a group of wood frame houses constructed around 1870. All have been covered with modern siding but their original shape and, in some cases, original wood cornices are visible. At the corner of Quail Street is a row of five brick buildings dating from the 1880's also constructed by Philip Menges. These simple buildings feature flat lintels and sills and brick corbelled cornices. The corner building, the last building within the Clinton Avenue Historic District, has a commercial establishment on the first floor and is one story taller than its companions.

Opposite this block on the south side of Clinton Avenue is the only block within the district that does not contain long rows of identical rowhouses constructed on speculation. At each corner of the block are Italianate style mixed commercial and residential buildings and between the corners are individually constructed frame or brick buildings, most of which are in the Italianate style and were built between 1860 and 1875. An unusual "suburban" house from the 1890s is also present in the block at 542 Clinton Avenue. The best examples of wooden Italianate style buildings from the period are at 570 and 600 Clinton, which date from c.1860. Both feature decorative wood lintels and cornices. Number 600 Clinton has an early first floor storefront. Brick examples include 574, 578 and 596 Clinton, which were individually constructed in the same mode as the remaining historic district to the east.

The Clinton Avenue Historic District ends at Quail Street. West of Quail and north and south of Clinton are buildings whose architectural character does not belong to the rest of Clinton Avenue and whose architectural integrity has been compromised by the insensitive application of modern siding.

Lark Street

The section of Lark Street within the Clinton Avenue Historic District exhibits a remarkable degree of architectural unity although its construction period spans nearly thirty years, between 1873 and the first decade of the twentieth century. Development began at Clinton Avenue and generally proceeded southward, reaching Elk Street by 1890. Between Clinton Avenue and Orange Street, one block south, are eight brick Italianate rowhouses. On the east side of Lark are three identical buildings which have iron hoods and sills and bracketed wood cornices. Opposite them are five buildings with similar details and oriel windows. All were constructed between 1873 and 1877.

At the southeast corner of Orange Street is a wood frame building that has been covered with vinyl siding but south of this is a row of eight brick Italianate style rowhouses with iron trim and wood cornices. Opposite them are nine brick buildings trimmed with stone. A surprising characteristic of all these buildings is their conservative design. Nearly all were constructed for real estate developer Peter Delaney and they are similar to buildings constructed ten years earlier in other parts of the district. The Italianate style houses were constructed by him during the 1880s and even those opposite, which date from the 1890's, have bracketed wood cornices similar to buildings from twenty years previous. The block between Sheridan Avenue and Spruce Street has a large taxi station on the west side of the street constructed in 1957. Opposite are some brick and frame rowhouses and a group of row buildings presently under construction compatible with the scale and rhythm of the district.

The block of Lark between Spruce and Elk Streets begins a climb upward toward Washington Avenue to the south. The result is two groups of architecturally unified brick rowhouses on either side of the street whose aesthetic effect is enhanced by the stepping up of each facade as the block moves southward. On the east side of the street is a block of eleven houses constructed in 1892 by local developer Adam Cook. The facades are constructed of pressed brick, and alternating buildings have stone trim and three-sided oriel windows or brick arches at openings and two-sided oriel windows. All facades are capped by panelled and corbelled brick cornices.


Clinton Avenue, originally called Patroon Street, begins at Broadway in the eastern area of Albany, climbs a steep incline above the Hudson River plain, and joins Central Avenue, the former Schenectady Turnpike, about two miles to the west. The portion of Clinton Avenue from North Pearl Street, one block west of Broadway, to Quail Street, about one and one-half miles west, is included in the district. At North Pearl Street, the district boundary travels northward along that street to Livingston Avenue, a distance of two long blocks. In this location, it includes houses and institutional buildings of a character similar to those on Clinton along the west side of Pearl between Clinton and Wilson, and facing both sides of Pearl between Wilson and Livingston. The boundary was drawn in this area to exclude the Leo O'Brien Federal Office Building, constructed in the 1970s. This modern building occupies the entire block bounded by Clinton, North Pearl, Wilson and Broadway. Facing the Federal Office Building along Wilson Street are two historic houses and an early twentieth century commercial garage that are included in the historic district because their historic and architectural character relates to that of North Pearl Street. Immediately east of these and facing Broadway are four buildings proposed as a separate nomination to the National Register (Listed, 1988). Now called the Broadway Row, they are survivors of a type which once dominated this entire section of Broadway.

At North Pearl and Livingston, the district's northern boundary is apparent. At the northwest corner, where these two streets intersect, is public housing which was constructed in the early 1970s under the federal Urban Renewal Program. Facing these high-rise towers are three historic buildings on Livingston Avenue, constructed in the 1860s and included within the district. Immediately west of these buildings and following a line drawn along the rear property lines of North Pearl Street south to Clinton Avenue is the eastern boundary of the Arbor Hill Historic District. East of North Pearl at Livingston Avenue is the Broadway/Livingston Historic District, independently nominated to the National Register (Listed, 1988).

Returning to Clinton Avenue and North Pearl, the district includes the three remaining buildings and park that compose Clinton Square, now known as Clinton Place. This group is at the southwest corner of North Pearl and Clinton and was developed as part of a civic program to improve the character of the neighborhood in the 1820s and 1830s.

From this point, the district follows Clinton Avenue westward, including both sides of the street. To the north of the lower section of the avenue and at a higher elevation is the Arbor Hill Historic District, stretching as far west as Swan Street, a distance of three blocks. West of Swan Street, the area north of Clinton Avenue has experienced rampant demolition, mainly of frame houses, resulting in an area dominated by vast amounts of open space as far west as Northern Boulevard, three blocks west of Swan Street. To the south of Clinton Avenue between Clinton Place and Lark Street, a distance of four blocks, are parallel streets dominated by wood frame houses. Some have been covered with modern siding. Although not as drastic in the area to the north of Clinton, demolitions have also thinned the ranks of buildings in this neighborhood, known as Sheridan Hollow because of the steep downhill grade toward Sheridan Avenue, the former site of the Fox Creek. The grade of Clinton Avenue in this area, much lower than First Street one block to the north and much higher than streets in Sheridan Hollow to the south, has historically served to maintain a separate identity for Clinton Avenue and reinforces the spine-like nature of the historic district boundary today.

At Lark Street, the topography of Sheridan Hollow was such that this street could be constructed to connect Clinton Avenue with Washington Avenue, the major avenue at the top of the ridge on the south side of the hollow. Lark Street represents the first point west of Downtown Albany where the two major east-west avenues are connected by a crosstown street. For this reason, Lark Street developed historically as an appendage to Clinton Avenue and is included within the Clinton Avenue Historic District in this area. The district boundary includes both sides of Lark between Clinton Avenue and Elk Street (one block north of Washington) as well as the nine buildings on Elk Street just east of Lark.

Returning to Clinton Avenue, the district continues in its westerly direction along the avenue until it reaches the corner of Lexington Avenue, two blocks to the west. At this point, the district fans out in both directions from Clinton Avenue and includes buildings on First Street as well. Between Second Street (two blocks to the north) and Clinton Avenue, the district boundary is drawn to include the west side of Lexington Avenue, in this location a street characterized by brick rowhouses similar to those of Clinton Avenue itself. West of Lexington along First Street is a short row of brick houses on the north side of that street and a longer row on the south side, built by some of the individuals who constructed the row on Clinton Avenue backing up to these lots. These compatible rows are within the district's boundary, along with a short row of similar buildings on the east side of Lexington Avenue between Clinton Avenue and Orange Street, one block to the south.

West of Lexington Avenue, the district boundary once again includes only those buildings which face Clinton Avenue for the three remaining blocks west to Quail Street. The one exception to this situation is a building known as 2 Judson Street, at the corner of Clinton Avenue. Although not addressed with a Clinton Avenue number, this building forms the terminus of a long row of masonry buildings which face the avenue west of the corner of Judson Street. This group has the separate name of McPheraon Terrace and is an important component of the Clinton Avenue Historic District.

At the northeast corner of Clinton Avenue and Quail Street is the westernmost row of speculative brick rowhouses along Clinton Avenue, constructed in 1887. This group serves as the visual terminus of the Clinton Avenue Historic District. To the north, west and south of this corner are buildings of a character significantly different from those along Clinton Avenue and the cross streets included within the boundaries of the district. Outside the district are buildings constructed primarily of wood, and north of Clinton Avenue are buildings which mainly date from the early twentieth century. The wood frame buildings which line the streets adjacent to upper Clinton Avenue were constructed by and for individuals different from those who made their homes in Clinton Avenue brick rowhouses or in that building type on adjacent streets. They are historically significant in their own right but do not relate to the "boom town" atmosphere which characterized the growth of Clinton Avenue in the second half of the last century.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Clinton Avenue • Clinton Place • Lark Street • Pearl Street North • Quail Street

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