The history of our building, unique in its specifics, is an example of the general history of many adapted / restored buildings in Albany.
It was originally constructed as the carriage house for the Benjamin W. Arnold mansion, located on the corner of State Street and Sprague Place. With his simply fronted but imposing home, Arnold succeeded in impressing the public of his day. His was the first fully electrified home in Albany. Using the fortune he had made in the lumber business, he even equipped his new home with an electric elevator. The carriage house, of course, was not so elaborate. But it seemed to satisfy the Arnolds' chauffeur, William Deragon, who lived in it for almost forty years. His departure in 1945 was one of necessity, when the third Mrs. Arnold, by then a widow, died, and her properties were liquidated.
The contents of the mansion were auctioned, and the house was sold to the State University of New York. It became a men's dormitory until 1955, when it was purchase by the Albany Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. Arnold's original gardens were made into a parking lot, and the second floor of the mansion was remodeled for office space. The Chancery continues to be located there.
The carriage house was purchased by Roemer and Zeller, Auto Electricians, in 1945. They were headquartered here until 1974. The building remained vacant and neglected until 1978,when it was purchased and renovated for the use of Austin and Co.
DDA purchased the building in 1996. We rehabiltated the balustrades and the interior finishes. We take great pride in occupying a structure which holds historic prominence and relish the link to the past to the great architect, Stanford White.
It's been a history of style and utilitarianism. We intend to continue both traditions.
The Original Architect:
Stanford White was a founding partner of the firm McKim, Mead,and White. His classical approach to exterior design and form made him the premier American architect of his day. Much of his work was constructed in and around New York City, including the old Madison Square Garden, the Washington Arch and the York City Municipal Building. Because of the classical nature of his design, ornamental sculpture was often used, leading to his friendship with artist Augustus St. Gaudens.
Stanford White's first contact with Albany came in 1873, when he was a draughtsman for well known architect H. H. Richardson. At the time designing the New York Senate Chambers and other sections of the State Capitol, White noted his impressions of the city in a letter to his mother...
"Misery, wretchedness and the devil - I've got to spend another evening in Albany. Of all the miserable, second-class, one-horse towns, this is the most miserable."
White's affection for Albany seemed to remain on this level for the rest of his life. Although he designed the Arnold mansion and its carriage house, he did not remain in Albany to oversee its construction.
White was tragically murdered at age 53 by Harry Kendall Thaw, whose wife [Evelyn Nesbit] was allegedly having an affair with the architect. Ironically, the murder took place on the Madison Square Garden Roof, an entertainment spot designed by White.