Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Open House at 329 State Street

Open House Celebrates Major Rehab of 1889 Bleeker Banks House
Rehab of unique mansion a Renaissance after a troubled past

The McLaughlin Group hosted an Open House to celebrate the final stages of the firm’s rehab of the historic 1889 Bleeker Banks House at 329 State St. in Albany. The event, on October 24th at 5:30 pm, was open to the public.

The event raised $2,400 to benefit Committee 150, a citizens’ campaign to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the former St. Joseph’s Church, and to raise $150,000 to continue stabilization work on the once-endangered building.

The 10,000 square foot Bleecker Banks House is being transformed by The McLaughlin Group into eleven luxurious apartments consisting of studios, one and two bedroom units for lease.

The McLaughlin’s are melding 19th century details along with 21st century amenities. Fireplace mantles have been stripped down to their original splendor and will be retrofitted for electric use. Antiques Fairs, the Historic Albany Foundation Parts Warehouse and antiques stores have been scoured to find period stained glass windows, lighting fixtures and other items dating from the 1880’s. New hardwood floors will replace floors damaged by water leaks and neglect.

Modern amenities include stainless steel appliances, recessed lighting, tiled bathrooms, gas heat, central air, an exercise room, laundry facilities, individual storage areas and private outdoor space for four units.

Millis McLaughlin, Principal of the McLaughlin Group, said “the house was most recently a 19-unit apartment building that was shut down by the city for a number of code violations and was vacant for several years. Significant damage occurred to the structure due to roof leaks and frozen pipes. The building’s past grandeur was long gone. Many original and beautiful details such as the ballroom ceiling and fireplaces hidden behind drywall were discovered during the demolition. We saw a diamond in the rough and decided to take a chance on essentially rebuilding the structure’s interior, to save the building from slow death. Our hope is that this will be a major improvement for the neighborhood and the community.”

Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings said, “the new Re-Capitalize Albany Committee has as a goal the revitalization of city neighborhoods, and this project exemplifies the kind of commitment we need to both attract new residents and continue to enhance neighborhoods. We’re delighted that the McLaughlin Group has made this significant investment and hope it will inspire others to invest in similar ways in our city.”

For more information about the property, call 518-433-1100.

The McLaughlin Group is a family-run enterprise founded by Bill McLaughlin, a State Street resident since 1977. Throughout the last three decades, McLaughlin has renovated over 90 buildings in the Albany area. The firm currently owns and professionally manages apartment buildings in downtown Albany. The McLaughlin Group is committed to preserving the historic fabric of its properties and the local neighborhoods.

History of the Bleeker Banks House

Twice Democratic mayor of Albany, A. Bleecker Banks commissioned this interesting Romanesque Revival double house in 1889 for his daughter, Harriet, and son-in-law, William Lawrence Green. Banks owned the brownstone row next door as well as a house on this lot, so the 1889 work may have represented alterations to the earlier structure. This irregular front façade of rusticated stone links the 1870s row on the right to the 1888-89 Goodwin house on the left. The wrought-iron work adds to the fluidity of the front façade; there is a billowing balcony, and the distinctive latticework is transformed into a bench by the front door. The initials CB can be seen in the gable. The Greens lived here through 1909. In the subsequent decades the building suffered the fate of many old buildings in Albany as it was repeatedly subdivided into smaller and smaller apartments.

As the McLaughlin Group project team began removing the non-bearing walls, plumbing, and kitchen and bath fixtures added to the building to create 19 apartments over the last 50 years, they discovered severe structural problems. Adding steel girders and new floor joists throughout the building raised the level of the 3rd floor by almost 5 inches. The project thus incurred significant cost overruns as the extent of the required rehab became clear.

A real gem discovered during the demolition process was the 13 ‘ high paneled ceiling in the second floor rear ballroom. There was originally no insulation between the ceiling and the roof so the ceiling had been lowered twice, covering the ceiling as well as the upper portion of the beautiful bay window. This large room had been converted to a 2-bedroom apartment and a studio. In the renovated structure the Ballroom is a single apartment of 825 sq. ft. and privacy walls are built at a lower height to preserve the ceiling.


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