Owners looking to sell ‘castle’

After three years with the same owner, the former National Guard Armory, now known as the Amsterdam
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After three years with the same owner, the former National Guard Armory, now known as the Amsterdam Castle, is for sale.

“It feels like the right time for the Phemister family to sell,” Susan Phemister said.

The Phemisters were living in New York City when they found the old armory for sale on eBay. They purchased it in 2005 for about $900,000 and started renovations.

The family of five lives in a portion of the armory and has renovated 11 of 50 rooms, which are now used for meeting space, banquets and weddings or rented out to summertime travelers.

The building went on the market last week and is listed through Saratoga Sotheby’s International Realty for $1.995 million. Phemister said the realty firm has an “interesting clientele.”

“They are international, high end and sophisticated, which is exactly the type of people that you want to bring into Amsterdam,” she said.

Interior and exterior improvements were made to the building, including bringing it up to code requirements. Phemister said renovations were done with environmentally friendly products such as bamboo flooring and low volatile organic content paints and sealants.

Phemister said her favorite parts of the building include the renovated billiards room, the rifle range and the fallout shelter.

During the Phemisters’ residency at the armory, it has been used as the backdrop for a movie and a meeting place where Eliot Spitzer campaigned for governor and local organizations gathered. This year the Phemisters were featured on the show “reZONED” on the cable network HGTV.

With interest in the city’s South Side emerging, Phemister said she will be able to sell the property. She noted recent interest from a developer considering converting the Chalmers Building into luxury apartments and the planned reconstruction of Bridge Street. “There will be another great project here,” she said.

The Phemisters had renovated a warehouse floor and office building in London before moving into a brownstone in Brooklyn and renovating that. Phemister said the “castle” has been her largest project and she doubts she’ll top it.

“I do want to stay local and there are tons of historic buildings in this neighborhood that could keep me occupied,” she said.

Phemister and her husband Manfred have three young children who attend St. Mary’s Institute. Phemister still commutes to New York City every week where she is an executive with the news agency Reuters. Manfred Phemister operates an online CD distribution business called Park Slope Music.

Phemister said she had a medical scare a few months ago which caused her to re-examine her priorities. She realized that she was devoting her life to a building and that she needed a break.

Phemister said even her daughter has said she wants to move into a “normal house.”

“I think I’d like to do normal for awhile,” Phemister said. “I’d like to rent some big thing on Guy Park Avenue.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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