From the outside, homes in Schenectady's Stockade neighborhood offer a glimpse into the past, each one seemingly representing aspects of a different time period or style.
But from the inside comes another view, one that reflects not only the aesthetic history of the area, but the everyday lives of those who lived there several generations ago.
The Stockade Walkabout, slated for Saturday, gives people a chance to tour eight homes and several other longtime Stockade institutions such as the Schenectady County Historical Society and Arthur’s Market.
The latter, owned by Stockade resident Haley Priebe, is the Walkabout’s work-in-progress tour stop this year.
“In some ways, I feel more like a steward than an owner, so it feels appropriate to let people in on the process,” Priebe said.
Arthur’s Market has a long and winding history in the neighborhood. Built in 1795, it has for decades been a public market, and Priebe hopes to continue that tradition by turning it into a cafe and grocery-style spot.
“I’ve been working in the food and hospitality business on the marketing side of the equation, and I’ve itched to get in on the ground level. The opportunity just presented itself. This is something I always dreamed I’d do later in my career, but I live in the Stockade and have wanted a place to grab groceries or a cup of coffee, and felt like ‘Why not? I could do this,’ ” Priebe said.
While the market has been closed since February, she’s only recently been able to start construction.
“I spent quite a lot of time planning, making sure that I understood what was going on in the building, which sounds silly, but navigating the spaghetti plumbing and electric took some time,” Priebe said.
Along the way, she and members of SUNY Schenectady Community College’s archaeology program uncovered a cistern in the back kitchen.
While folks going on the Walkabout won’t get to explore that area, they will get a glimpse at the skeleton of the building and the vision for its future.
“We finished most of the demo, so they’ll see a real 'before.' It’s pretty bare-bones right now. It’s just a plywood floor and exposed rafters. There [are] no counters or shelves or anything, so they’ll get a sense of the clean slate,” Priebe said.
Presentation boards filled with information on the market’s past and future will be on display, and Priebe plans to offer snacks.
“I want the cafe to feel clean and bright and welcoming. I don’t necessarily plan to have a ton of vintage or antique items, but I do want to bring through some of the character and the history of the building, whether that [means] displaying historic photos or the original sign,” Priebe said.
She hopes to open in late spring of 2020, barring any restoration surprises.
Besides Arthur’s Market, there are a few homes set for this year's Walkabout that have never before been part of the tour, which is surprising considering the event has been held for 57 years.
"The houses are particularly great this year," said Stockade resident Sylvie Briber.
She’s been organizing the Walkabout for years and said she often works years ahead to plan which homes will be part of the tour, making sure no home is seen too often (there is a five-year rule) and that there is a mix of styles.
The house at 56 Washington Ave. is one of the “newer” homes on the tour, though it was built in the early 1800s.
"I don't believe this house has ever been on the tour. You go in and it's like a breathtaking experience," Briber said.
It has 16-foot ceilings with elaborate moldings and two grand parlors with companion marble fireplaces. The back parlor opens to a veranda, followed by a terrace garden. The outside of the home is one in Federal style, while the inside echoes more of the Greek revival and Italianate styles.
One of the oldest homes on the tour, and indeed in the Stockade, is 31 Front St., owned by Peter Rumora and the late Paul Basile.
It was first built in 1751 on land owned by Adam Vrooman, the Schenectady hero who rode to warn Albany after the 1690 massacre. It was home to the first mayor of the borough of Schenectady, Isaac Vrooman, in 1765.
The Dutch domestic-style home underwent extensive construction in the 1840s, adding its brick front and Gothic window. While the interior of the home has changed over the years, the original structure has remained the same.
If touring homes that were standing more than 200 years ago isn’t enough to make history come alive for you, there will be a few historical reenactors on the tour that should do the trick. The Second Albany Militia will be in period costume, rowing on the Mohawk River in a bateau from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There will also be live music by members of the Musicians of Ma’alwyck, the Dave Kitchen Trio and others.
Homes on the tour include: 9 Front St., home of Jeffrey Brewster and David De Lira; 31 Front St., home of Peter Rumora and the late Paul Basile; 33 Front St., home of Joan Mikalson; 56 Washington Ave., owned by Chris LaFlemme, home of Star Mayhew; 58 Washington Ave., known as the John Glen House, home of Kay Pasternak; 207 Union St., home of Gloria Kishton and Robert Lemmerman; 214 Union St., home of Susan Sfara and Shail Maingi; 27 N. Ferry St., known as the John Peek House and home to Joseph Fava.
Other stops include: 32 Washington Ave., the Schenectady County Historical Society; 44 Washington Ave., the YWCA of NorthEastern NY; 14 N. Church St., the Brouwer House, recently donated to the Schenectady County Historical Society by the Kindl family and one of the oldest houses in the Stockade, dating to 1735; 12 S. Church St., the Schenectady Civic Players.
At 26 Front St., members of SUNY Schenectady’s Community archaeology program will be excavating the site.
WHEN: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Stockade Historic District
TICKETS: $20 in advance, $25 day of the event and $10 for students on day of
BUY: Schenectady County Historical Society (32 Washington Ave.), Open Door Bookstore (128 Jay St.), Flowers by Jo-Ann (1613 Union St.), Faddegon’s Nursery (1140 Troy-Schenectady Road), Felthousen’s Florist (1537 Van Antwerp Road) and Kulak's Nursery (1615 Route 146)
MORE INFO: historicstockade.com