When Marilyn DeSimony saw the quaint little arts and crafts house at the intersection of Nott and Myron streets in “Old Niskayuna” five years ago, she was pretty certain she’d found her new home.
What she wasn’t ready for was the extensive flower garden that came with the house at 2043 Nott Street, nestled in the northeast corner of Nott and Myron.
“I looked at the house in the middle of winter,” said DeSimony, who had previously lived off of Spring Road in Glenville for 40 years. “All I could see was snow. I didn’t know what I was getting into.”
Photo by Marc Schultz/Gazette Photographer: Garden at the Marilyn Desimony home on Nott St.
Despite being enveloped by green plants and colorful flowers, you can still appreciate DeSimony’s cozy, rose-colored bungalow, built in 1940 following the height of the arts and crafts architectural movement from 1880-1920.
It was her son, a Niskayuna school teacher, who got DeSimony to check out the place during an open house.
“I was always thinking some place in Glenville, but my son used to drive past it on his way to work, and he told me he was always curious to look inside,” remembered DeSimony. “He loved the arts and crafts style. So we went to see it, and I liked the house right away. They did have a yucca plant, so I could tell she was from California, but she was heading back to San Diego to take care of her mother. The kitchen was a mess, so I changed the whole configuration of it. That got a major overhaul, but other than that the house was great.”
DeSimony put in some new counters and moved the refrigerator in her kitchen, but kept the old 1950s Chambers stove, complete with teardrop design gas handles, chrome-plated cooktop, basket-style oven racks, warming burner, broiler and utility cabinet. (Photo by Marc Schultz/Gazette Photographer: Antique oven in kitchen of the Marilyn Desimony home on Nott St.)
Entry from the side door on Myron St. leads to the kitchen, and a right turn takes you into the dining room and then a living room, the latter coming with an original stone fireplace.
“There was a wood-burning stove in the fireplace when I moved in, but I changed it to a gas fireplace,” said DeSimony. “I’m not going to haul wood in here. I also have a lot of Victorian stuff that I’ve collected, and while putting periods together can be a little challenging, I really like both the living room and the dining room.”
Photo by Marc Schultz/Gazette Photographer: Living room area of the Marilyn Desimony home on Nott St.
Myron is one of those streets that run north-south in what is generally referred to as Old Niskayuna, a section of the town between Union Street on the south and Providence Avenue on the north. The boundaries, however, are vague and depend upon whom you’re talking to. Part of “Old Niskayuna” is actually still in the city. and while Dean and Regents streets and Keyes and Baker avenues run all the way from Union Street well past Nott, Myron starts a block short of Union at Plum Street and doesn’t extend as far north as those other roads, ending at Salem Road.
As of 1935, Myron had not yet reached Nott Street. Only in 1939, the year before DeSimony’s house was built, did it extend all the way past Nott and north to Salem Road. That was also the same year Salem Road, a short street running from Regent to Dean, first appeared in the city directories.
“Old Niskayuna has some pretty fuzzy boundaries — west of Balltown, north of Union, although we’re not really sure how far north it extends,” said town of Niskayuna historian Denis P. Brennan. “I don’t even really think of that place as Old Niskayuna. When I hear that term I think of the hamlet of Niskayuna, which is the old railroad station.”
According to Brennan, a history professor at Union College who was just named town historian earlier this summer, 1940 was a busy year for new homes in Niskayuna.
Photo by Marc Schultz/Gazette Photographer: Addition being built in 1954 at the Marilyn Desimony home on Nott St.
“There were 274 residences built in that year, which is the largest number ever built in one year,” said Brennan, a Yonkers native who has lived in Niskayuna for 40 years and taught history at Union for the past 15 years. “Another thing I thought was curious is that between 1931 and 1940, there were 746 residences built in Niskayuna despite the fact that we were in the middle of the Great Depression. It was a period of significant development in Niskayuna, while the city of Schenectady was a little bit on the decline.”
Between 1941-1950 there were even more new homes, 763, built in Niskayuna. In the town’s first 100 years (1809-1909) it was the smallest in Schenectady County in terms of population.
“There were a string of decades where the town of Niskayuna has significant growth, and the 1950s was the biggest one,” said Brennan. “It all started back in 1904 when the Grand Boulevard area began being developed. The whole area had been pretty rural.”
DeSimony enjoys living in the neighborhood and loves the stone porch on the Nott Street side. The house is also big enough for her because of a 1954 addition that created two more bedrooms and a bathroom.
“The house used to look like a Christmas tree,” said DeSimony, laughing. “It was red with green trim, and it was also pea green. Now I think it’s the only rose-colored arts and crafts house around here. I had three places that fell through in Glenville, but that’s OK. I’m very happy here.”