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Fans snap up memories at Van Dyck auction

Fans snap up memories at Van Dyck auction

Six decades of history flavored with jazz, beer and fine food left the building, most of it forever,

Six decades of history flavored with jazz, beer and fine food left the building, most of it forever, at Monday’s auction of the contents of the former Van Dyck on Union Street.

The Metroplex Development Authority authorized the auction to recoup some of a $200,000 loan and a $75,000 line of credit it gave to former owner N. Peter Olsen in 2004. Olsen defaulted on the Metroplex loan and a $250,000 loan from Berkshire Bank in 2007.

Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said the total sale reached approximately $140,000. In earlier comments, Gillen has said further pursuit against Olsen’s other assets is possible.

Among items sold on Monday were dozens of autographed portraits of jazz greats who performed at the Van Dyck in its heyday. Eileen Bush purchased a signed photo of Marian McPartland, a jazz pianist, composer and writer who is 90 and still performs. Bush waited nearly three hours to snag the photo, paying $22.50 for the print.

“She is wonderful and is one of my favorites,” said Bush, a voice teacher. “I will hang it up on the wall of the studio in my house.”

Bush and her husband used to attend the Van Dyck regularly years ago for jazz and dinner. “For us, it was a special place, a lovely place,” she said.

“It’s sad,” Bush said of the closure and sale of the restaurant.

The McDonald family purchased the building and a nearby parking lot at a foreclosure auction Oct. 8 for $252,000, plus $147,000 in back taxes. The sale satisfied most of the Berkshire Bank loan but left the Metroplex loan largely unpaid. Metroplex retains rights to the building’s contents and to the Van Dyck name.

On Monday, Jeff McDonald paid $70,000 to purchase the Van Dyck’s microbrewing equipment. He said the plan is to restart beer brewing, or crafting, at the restaurant when it reopens early next year. The McDonalds plan to reopen the facility as a restaurant and entertainment venue. They are negotiating with Metroplex over the use of the Van Dyck name.

Gloria Kishton, president of the Schenectady Heritage Foundation, a preservationist group, and Lyn Gordon, president of the Stockade Association, said they were delighted the McDonalds bought the Van Dyck. The McDonald family also owns and operates Pinhead Susan’s, the Stockade Inn and the Park Inn on Michigan Avenue.

“They have it now and we hope for a great comeback,” Gordon said. “This is a gateway to the Stockade and we will see more foot traffic.”

The late Marvin Friedman founded the restaurant in 1947 and turned it into a mecca for jazz aficionados, said Tim Coakley, a local jazz historian. Coakley, a copy editor and jazz critic for The Daily Gazette, purchased several items at Monday’s auction.

“It was the destination for jazz in the Capital Region. People would drop in from all over the place,” Coakley said. “The club was open five nights a week.”

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