EDITOR’S NOTE: After last week’s fire at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, people around the world expressed sadness over the damage to that city’s symbol of history and culture. In the Gazette newsroom, the fire prompted a discussion about the most iconic structures in our own city, the ones most dear to residents. For all of us, the list started with the Nott Memorial at Union College. For the rest, we decided to list them alphabetically.
As one of America’s oldest inland cities, you would expect Schenectady to have plenty of historic buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, and you’d be right.
Evidence of the Colonial period is still quite abundant in the Stockade section of the city, while the many prominent homes in the GE Realty Plot reflect the city’s growth, and for some of its inhabitants their wealth, shortly after the turn of the 20th century.
Here is a alphabetical list of some of those buildings, many of them architectural gems, that certainly qualify as iconic images of Schenectady. The oldest is the Yates House on Union Street, dating back to the 1720s, while the most recent is the Unitarian Universalist Society building that was constructed in 1961.
Arthur’s Market: Located near the statue of Lawrence the Indian where North Ferry intersects with Front Street, Arthur’s has been a neighborhood meeting place since 1795, according to the sign outside the front door. It’s current name refers to former owner Arthur Polechek, who ran the place as a small grocery store and coffee house from 1952-2003
Bond Funeral Home: George Westinghouse Jr. had the place built in 1887 for his mother, who staunchly refused to budge from her home downtown and never moved in, leaving it for other relatives. Located just off Broadway on Guilderland Avenue in the Bellevue area of the city, it was purchased by Romine R. Bond in 1929 and he turned into a funeral home along with using it as his residence.
Church of St. Adalbert: Located just off Crane Street in the Mont Pleasant section of Schenectady, St. Adalbert was built in 1911 for a rapidly increasing number of Polish immigrants flocking to the city to work for the General Electric Company and the American Locomotive Company.
City Hall: Built between 1931 and 1933, Schenectady’s City Hall was designed by the firm of McKim, Mead and White, and features a square clock tower, gold-leaf dome, weathervane and the Ionic neoclassical portico.
Ellis Hospital: Originally on Union Street and Jay Street in downtown, a “new” Ellis Hospital, with 60 beds, opened up in 1906 in the eastern outskirts of the city at Nott Street and Rosa Road. Major expansions occured in 1959, 1965 and 1972.
Elston Hall on SUNY Schenectady campus: What was the Van Curler Hotel opened for customers on May 7, 1925, and closed on Feb. 2, 1968, before becoming home to Schenectady Community College and later Schenectady County Community College in September 1969.
First Presbyterian Church of Schenectady: Built in the Stocade during the first pastorate of Alexander Monteith (1809-1815), the building was modeled after the Ransom Court Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, and among its most notable features is a wrap-around balcony that dominates the oval interior.
First Reformed Church of Schenectady: Despite the major fire that gutted much of the building in 1948, the facade of the First Reformed Church at the corner of Union and North Church Street in the Stockade looks a lot like the one designed by Edward Tuckerman Potter in 1863.
GE Building 37: This structure is easily the most recognizable one on the GE campus, perhaps due in large part because of the huge electric sign with the famous cursive GE logo that was placed on top of the structure in 1926.
Parker Inn: The tallest building in Schenectady throughout most of the 20th century, the eight-story structure was built in 1905. Named after local attorney John Parker, it is adjacent to Proctors on State Street, and was renovated in 2012, expanding from 17 rooms to 23.
More: Our iconic structures: Nott Memorial was almost demolished, April 21, 2019
Proctors: Formerly a vaudeville house built by F.F. Proctor in 1926, Proctors is now home to national touring productions of major Broadway shows, as well as other top acts in the entertainment industry. It was nearly demolished before being saved by concerned citizens in 1977. A major renovation work was completed in 2006, nearly doubling the size of the stage.
St. George’s Episcopal Church: While not the oldest congregation in the city (that distinction belongs to First Reformed), St. George’s is the earliest church building still going strong in the city, dating back to 1762. Designed by Samuel Fuller, it is located on North Ferry Street in the Stockade.
St. John the Evangelist: Architect Edward Loth of Troy began designing this building in 1893 but construction didn’t start until July of 1900. Located on Union Street across from Union College, St. John finally opened on Valentine’s Day in 1904.
Stockade Inn: Located at the northwest corner of Union and North Church Street, the Stockade Inn sits on the same lot where Schenectady founder Arent Van Curler built his first home. The current structure, which went up between 1810 and 1820, has been a private residence, a bank, a school and a men’s only club.
Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady: Built in 1961 on Wendall Avenue in the same neighborhood as the architecturally-rich GE Realty Plot, the building was designed by Edward Durell Stone and features a large amphiteater that leads downward as a 60-foot dome rises above it.
Yates House (at 109 Union Street): It’s reputed to be the oldest home in Schenectady, and while there’s some debate about that, the facade of the building looks a lot like it did when Abraham Yates built it early in the 18th century. The interior of the home was renovated in the 1850s, giving it a Victorian Era look.
More: Our iconic structures: Nott Memorial was almost demolished, April 21, 201