Kenwood, Albany, New York

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Coordinates: 42°37′35″N 73°46′08″W / 42.62639°N 73.76889°W / 42.62639; -73.76889
City of Albany, New York
Formerly: Rensselaer's Mills, Lower Hollow
Name origin: Named by Major Joel Rathborne after a place in Scotland
Country United States
State New York
Region Capital District
County Albany
Municipality City of Albany
Neighborhood South End
River Normans Kill
Elevation 32.8 ft (10 m)
Coordinates 42°37′35″N 73°46′08″W / 42.62639°N 73.76889°W / 42.62639; -73.76889
Settled 1618
Annexed to Albany 1916
Timezone EST (UTC-5)
 - summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP Code 12209
Area code 518
Location of Kenwood within the state of New York

Kenwood is a neighborhood in the city of Albany, New York. Prior to annexation by the city in 1916 it was a hamlet in the neighboring town of Bethlehem, also in Albany County. The hamlet once spanned both sides of the Normans Kill (Kill is Dutch for creek) along the Albany and Bethlehem Turnpike. The portion of Kenwood in Bethlehem has since been abandoned along with the turnpike, including the bridge over the Normans Kill.


Kenwood, formerly known as Lower Hollow (Upper Hollow is upstream at Normansville) or Rensselaer's Mills, dates back to the earliest of Dutch settlement in New York's Capital District.[1][2] It was here that in 1618 a fort was established along a creek that the native inhabitants called Tawasentha.[1] This fort replaced a 1614 fort on Castle Island lost due to the annual freshet that occurs along the Hudson River.[3] Twelve years later in 1630 Albert Bradt built a mill here,[1][4] being from Norway he was nicknamed the Norman, from him the Tawasentha received its current name of Normans Kill (kill being Dutch for creek).[5]

Bridge over Normans Kill along the Albany and Bethlehem Turnpike; 1908

This land, being part of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck, belonged to the Patroon Van Rensselaer who had various mills built here after the US Revolutionary War.[1] In 1804 the Albany and Bethlehem Turnpike Company was organized by the state of New York to construct a turnpike road from Albany at South Pearl Street through Lower Hollow, after which it split with an upper fork to Babcocks Corners (today Bethlehem Center) and a lower fork to The Abbey (today Glenmont). The one toll-gate on the road was situated in Lower Hollow,[6] and Robert Van Rensselaer lived in a house on the turnpike near the bridge that carried the road over the Normans Kill.[1]

Joel Rathbone bought a 1,200-acre (4.9 km2) densely wooded area from the Patroon, and on a natural terrace he built a grand [Gothic[architecture]] mansion in 1841 for his retirement.[4] He would bestow upon this estate and the area around it the name of Kenwood in honor of a place of the same name in Scotland.[7] In 1870 a portion of Kenwood (including the first mile of the turnpike, the toll-gate, and the Rathbone estate) was annexed to Albany and the city was involved in a lawsuit (Harriet M. Elmendorf v. The City of Albany) over its right to lay sidewalks along the turnpike (technically private property and not a city road). One issue of the lawsuit was whether the city had authority to levy an assessment upon property in order to cover the cost of the sidewalk which was an improvement to the private property of the turnpike.[8]

In 1863 the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad opened from Albany through Kenwood on its way to Adams Station (Delmar), Slingerlands and New Scotland,[6] and eventually to Binghamton.[9] At Kenwood was the Kenwood Junction, the meeting place of the West Shore Railroad and the Albany and Susquehanna.[10] The later would be leased and then outright owned by the Delaware and Hudson Railway, until bought out by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) in 1990.[9] In 2000 CP had concerns about the bridge at Kenwood and the entire line from Kenwood to Voorheesville was soon abandoned.[11]

Map of Kenwood in 1891.

In 1886 the hamlet (which included land on both sides of the Normans Kill) included 16 residences, a schoolhouse, a store, a blacksmith, a Baptist church, and 36 families consisting of 150 individuals.[1] In the early 1930s South Pearl Street would be built along a new path from that of the Albany and Bethlehem Turnpike, this is its current location, and it would also be designated as New York State Route 32. This would lead to the abandonment of much of the original route of the turnpike through Kenwood segmenting it and bring about the end of the roads on the Bethlehem side. Prior to this, Southern Boulevard (US Route 9W), to the northwest of Kenwood, had been authorized to be constructed by the state (Laws of 1913, Chapter 295) as a highway to connect Delaware Avenue in Albany to the turnpike at Corning Hill Road in Bethlehem, thereby bypassing Kenwood. Construction on the new highway would be finished by 1916.[12] That year would also see the end of Kenwood as a hamlet and the beginning of its time as part of Albany's South End. Albany annexed much of the land in Bethlehem north of the Normans Kill thereby making that creek a natural border between the two municipalities. Since the Bethlehem School District Number 12 school house was on the north bank, and therefore annexed to Albany; the land south of the creek still in Bethlehem became part of Bethlehem School District Number 7.[13]

Kenwood Academy[edit]

In 1859 the Female Academy of the Sacred Heart (a Catholic institution) would buy the Rathborne Mansion and other structures along with 53 acres (210,000 m2) of the estate. In 1867 the mansion was torn down but all the materials were reused in the construction of a new church on the property. President-elect Grover Cleveland visited the campus in 1884.[4] The school would change its name to the Kenwood Academy, and then, in 1976, merge with the Episcopal St Agnes School and become the Doane Stuart School.[14] The school would sever its ties with the Catholic nuns of the Sacred Heart order; and then after an offer to buy the campus was rejected, the school moved across the Hudson River to Rensselaer. The campus, today 74 acres (300,000 m2), was listed for sale in 2009 with an asking price of $9 million; in 2013, the asking price was reduced to $3.9 million.[15] In 2010, the Preservation League of New York State declared the campus to be one of its "Seven to Save" endangered historic sites for that year.[16]


Famous residents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f George Howell and Jonathan Tenney (1886). Bi-Centennial History of Albany: History of the County of Albany from 1609-1886. W.W. Munsell and Company. p. 782. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  2. ^ Horatio Gates Spafford (1824). Gazetteer of the State of New York. B.D. Packard, 1824. p. 51. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  3. ^ George Howell and Jonathan Tenney (1886). Bi-Centennial History of Albany: History of the County of Albany from 1609-1886. W.W. Munsell and Company. p. 458. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  4. ^ a b c "A Brief History of Doane Stuart School". Albany Historic Foundation. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  5. ^ William Barnes (1851). The Settlement and Early History of Albany. Gould, Banks and Gould. p. 7. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  6. ^ a b George Howell and Jonathan Tenney (1886). Bi-Centennial History of Albany: History of the County of Albany from 1609-1886. W.W. Munsell and Company. pp. 790–791. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  7. ^ Museum Bulletin Issues 171-176. The University of the State of New York. 1914. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  8. ^ Marcus T. Hun, court reporter (1879). Reports of Cases Heard and Determined in the Supreme Court of the State of New York; Volume XXIV. Banks & Brothers. p. 81. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  9. ^ a b "DL&W, Erie, and D&H Early Binghamton History". Susquehanna Valley Railway Historical Society. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  10. ^ Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, One Hundredth and Thirtieth Session, 1890. Vol. V, - Nos. 22 to 28, Vol. I., Inclusive.. James B. Lyon/ State of New York. 1890. p. 146. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  11. ^ "Steve's Railroad Pages, Local Information". Steve Sconfienza, Ph.D. July 23, 2004. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  12. ^ John D. Whish (1917). Albany Guide Book. J.B. Lyon Company. pp. 38–39. 
  13. ^ William V.R. Erving (1920). Department Reports of the State of New York Containing the Messages of the Governor and the Decisions, Opinions and Rulings of the State Officers, Departments, Boards and Commissions; Volume 22. J.B. Lyon Company. pp. 300–301. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  14. ^ - RSCJ website "Heart magazine" (pdf document). December 2008. p. 14. 
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ Lauren Lynn Fischer (January 20, 2010). "Local sites make "Seven to Save list"". Albany Times Union. Retrieved 2010-03-02. [dead link]
  17. ^ Linda Hernick. "Women's History in the Collections". New York State Education Department/New York State Museum. Retrieved 2010-03-10.