HALFMOON & SCHENECTADY — What remains of a 19th-century Erie Canal community in Saratoga County and an apartment building in Schenectady have been nominated for the state and national historic registers, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has announced.
The Church Hill Historic District in the Halfmoon hamlet of Crescent and the Fitzgerald building in downtown Schenectady were both nominated for the registers by the state Board for Historic Preservation, along with 18 other locations around the state.
“The nominations reflect the state’s commitment to supporting the incredible and sometimes overlooked history forged by the diverse people of New York,” said Erik Kulleseid, state commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “Securing recognition for such places will help to protect and preserve this history so that it can be carried safe and intact into the future.”
State and National Registers listings can assist owners in revitalizing properties, making them eligible for various public preservation programs and services, such as matching state grants and state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits, state officials said.
The Church Hill Historic District, officials said, reflects the heyday of the Erie Canal and includes 13 primarily residential structures dating from the 19th century. Located on the north side of the Mohawk River near the state Route 9 bridge, the district includes a remaining section of the Halfmoon Aqueduct, which once carried the Erie Canal across the Mohawk. During this period, the hamlet was a canal shipping point for ice, grain, hay, and molders’ sand produced in southern Saratoga County.
Town of Halfmoon Historian Lynda Bryan has been working with a group of local residents to get the district designated since 2016, and county history officials backed it.
“A burst of prosperity in the second quarter of the 19th century related to the location of the Crescent Aqueduct was responsible for many of the architectural examples of high-style homes and businesses in this hamlet, according to a description from the Saratoga County History Center. “Subsequently, the demise of the original canal and changing forms of transportation forced this community to evolve, first as a result of the Barge Canal and then as a result of increasing automobile traffic. Throughout these changes, stellar examples of both high-style buildings and vernacular structures remain to tell the story of the bygone canal era. They deserve the measures of protection that a listing on the register affords them.”
“The Saratoga County History Center is excited to see the recognition of one of our county’s historic nineteenth century canal communities,” said Board President Jere Blackwelder. “Preservation and revitalization of these landmarks helps us ensure that future generations have access to our history and can see first-hand the legacy of Saratoga County. The district is in a beautiful section of Halfmoon along the Erie Canal.”
The Fitzgerald Building on Clinton Street in Schenectady was built in 1913 as a business school. The three-story brick building is regarded as illustrating the American Commercial style, and was constructed with metal “cage construction,” used in skyscraper technology. It was once home to Fitzgerald Business College, which trained office workers for nearby General Electric and other firms, and then to Ter Bush and Powell, a national insurance pioneer, which remained there until 1981. In 2018, it was rehabilitated into apartments and commercial space, with the support of federal historic preservation tax credits.
Also nominated for the list was Park Mart, at 93 North Pearl St. in downtown Albany — the building where Capital Repertory Theatre was located for decades, until a recent move. It was a concrete parking garage and grocery store, completed in 1973 as part of urban renewal efforts pushed by Albany Mayor Erastus Corning 2nd. State officials said it represents an early use of post-tensioned concrete, a construction method where steel cables, or “tendons,” are threaded through concrete as it is cast and then stressed with jacks, according to its application. It is also cited an an important example of the work of local architect Robert Louis Trudeau.