Schenectady

Former Schenectady police station nominated for historic list

The former Schenectady Police Station at 133 Clinton Street in Schenectady Friday, June 17, 2022.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

The former Schenectady Police Station at 133 Clinton Street in Schenectady Friday, June 17, 2022.

The former Schenectady Police Department at 301 Clinton St. is one of 23 properties nominated by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday for inclusion on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places.

The 23,235 square foot rectangular brick and terra-cotta facing building was most recently used to house New York state’s Off Track Betting Corp. until about 2018, but originally it was constructed as a Schenectady public school in 1889 and enlarged again for that purpose in 1900. It was later converted to a police station in 1929 and served the city in that role until 1973.

The building’s current owner is Redburn Development Partners, which received site plan approval to convert the structure into a 28-unit apartment building in 2020, but according to the application form used for its inclusion in the State and National Registers of Historic Places the building is currently vacant.

The building is considered an example of Early 20th Century American Movement architecture.

“The period of significance is restricted to the building’s use as a police station,” according to the application form used for its inclusion in the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

The application states the building still retains some of the elements of its original construction as a school house, but primarily reflects the 1929 alterations.

“The overall design retains the two-story rectangular form, reddish-brown brick masonry laid up in common bond, as well as the rusticated red sandstone arched west and north main entrances, emphasized by red sandstone laid in a random ashlar pattern at their sides,” reads the form. “The original hipped roof was replaced by a flat roof. The schoolhouse fenestration, epitomized by long banks of generously sized double-hung windows, was retained during the 1929-1930 remodel. The interior retains only the most basic characteristics of that space: the circulation pattern, which is defined by northwest and east staircases (steel and terrazzo stairs), an open courtroom space, and a second-floor double-loaded
corridor.”

Schenectady County Historian William “Bill” Buell, a longtime Daily Gazette reporter, said he remembers visiting 301 Clinton St. in the 1980s when it was used by OTB.

“There was always something grand about it, something regal,” Buell said.

Buell said 301 Clinton St. became the city’s first true professional police department building after a deal was made between the local school district and the city. He said the school district wanted to build a new school building, which at that time was called Mont Pleasant High School, and the city needed a new building not just for its police department but also as a location for new city jail in the wake of the 1924 assassination of Acting Captain Albert L. Youmans, who was shot to death while trying to police vice in the form of gambling, prostitution, and drinking during Prohibition.

“Schenectady had a lot going on in the 1920s,” Buell said.

In her news release Friday Hochul emphasized the importance of New York state’s diversity as part of its many historic sites. The list of 23 nominees included two Buffalo schools where a local Black Power organization developed its own curriculum, a Catskill retreat for Jewish elites, and the facility of a Western New York Prohibition-era bootlegging company.

“These diverse additions to the historic registers will help ensure resources are available to protect historic sites so that the past can continue to inspire us today — and into the future,” Hochul said in a news release.

Being added to the State and National Registers listing can make a property eligible for various public preservation programs and services, such as matching state grants and state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits.

According to the application form for 301 Clinton Street’s inclusion in the State and National Registers of Historic Places, a rehabilitation project using preservation tax credits to adapt the building for use as apartments has recently been completed.

According to Hochul’s news release, New York state currently has more than 120,000 historic properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the applications to be included on the list come from property owners, municipalities, and organizations from communities across the state.

The National Park Service has reported that between 2017 and 2021, 466 commercial projects in New York qualified for tax credits represented nearly $3.8 billion in private investment, $1 billion more than the next closest state, Ohio.

“Last year, 52 commercial projects in New York State qualified for tax credits based on more than $505 million in private investment, outpacing all other states in the nation,” reads Hochul’s release.

Once recommendations are approved by Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Erik Kulleseid, who serves as the State Historic Preservation Officer, the properties are listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, where they are reviewed and, once approved, entered on the National Register.

“Every time the State Review Board considers nominations, I am struck by the depth and breadth of our state’s history,” Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation at State Parks Daniel Mackay said. “These nominations continue the Division for Historic Preservation’s commitment to supporting historic resources that can benefit from investment driven by state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits.”

Hochul’s news release also included the fact that the State Review Board also recommended adding documentation of the slaveholding activities of the Revolutionary War general, U.S. Senator, and prominent regional landholder Philip J. Schuyler to the designation of his Albany home and state historic site, Schuyler Mansion, as part of the 23 new nominations.

“In New York, our diversity is our strength and I am very excited to see New Yorkers across the state are so actively engaged in preserving our heritage,” Hochul said.

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