Writing the Building Report


	The building report, written when research is complete, utilizes 
information found in a variety of sources to form a cohesive history of that 
building.  In order to compile this history, the following method should be 

1. Observe the structure 2. Check architectural guidebooks for date of style 3. Collect tax assessment data 4. Gather necessary deed work 5. Compile data from city directories 6. Check maps 7. Check additional appropriate sources - i.e. census rolls, registers of voters, wills, building permits, common council minutes, and secondary and other sources.

The finished written history should include the following information:

Description of building Date of construction Wards in which the building has been located Known major alterations Names and occupations of all owners and occupants Uses the building has served Additional information that may be significant or interesting - i.e. biographical information of prominent owners, builders or architects; street name changes; development of the neighborhood.

Descriptions and methods for use of the sources are included in the following chapters of this manual, along with two sample building reports. The first sample report (#208 Lancaster St.) concerns a building which is historically significant within the context of its environment but which, as an individual structure, does not appear to require more than routine research. The second sample report (#420 Broadway) is more elaborately researched because of the historical significance of this structure. These reports illustrate the basic format of a written history, although it may be altered as the material dictates. Refer to the end of the reports for the procedure to be followed for footnoting.

Outside the scope of this manual is the architectural observation process and the specialized vocabulary used in describing style, decorative elements, and building materials. Insidel Outside concerns itself specifically, with the use of public records in preparing a building's history.


Number 208 Lancaster Street is located on the south side of Lancaster Street between Lark and Willett Streets. The property has been assessed in Albany's sixteenth ward (I 889 -1965) and fifth ward (1966-1986)1. The lot has been addressed as 208 Lancaster since 1890.2 On January 15, 1836, the Corporation of the City of Albany sold a portion of land to Henry Yates "known as lots 67, 68 and 69 as laid down in a map of the City by Evert Van Allen" of which 208 Lancaster Street was a part. The deed described the property as follows:

"... All that tract or parcel of land in the City of Albany, County of Albany bounded and described as follows: All those three lots of land situated in the formerly 10th ward in a block of lots bounded on the north by Lancaster Street on the east by Lark Street and on the south by lot #66. Known as lots 67,68 and 69 as laid down in a map of the city by Evert Van Allen each lot containing 33 feet front on Lark Street by 165 feet deep."3

Henry Yates sold the property to Thomas Pester in 1846.4 The premises were conveyed to Deborah Pester by Warranty Deed of Thomas Pester on April 20, 1849.5 On September 11,1866 Deborah Pester and William Pester, her husband, conveyed the property to Louis Kimball6 who in turn sold the property to Edwin Brainard on April 12, 1873. On April 6, 1888 Edwin Brainard sold the land to James Eaton8 who subsequently erected nine new houses of which the "most easterly but two" was built on 208 Lancaster Street, being the same building that is presently on the premises.9 James Eaton subdivided the land and sold the lot addressed as 208 Lancaster to Cornelia Page July 15,1889 for $9,000. The land is described in the deed as follows:

... beginning at a point in the south line of Lancaster Street distant about 37 feet 23/4 inches west from the west line of Lark Street, which point is the straight line running through the center of the division wall between the house upon the lot hereby intended to conveyed and the house upon the lot next adjoining to the east thereof and heretofore conveyed to Hamilton Harris by deed dated April 20,1889 Book 405 page 294; thence running westerly along said south line of Lancaster Street about 18 feet 23/4 inches to the line passing through the center of the division wall between the house upon the lot hereby intended to be conveyed and the house next west thereof; thence southerly to and through the center of said last mentioned division wall; and continuing thence southerly on a line parallel with the west line of Lark Street in all about 99 feet to the north line of the property lately owned by Ira Jagger...thence easterly along said mentioned line about 18 feet 23/4 inches to the west line to the lot next adjoining to the east; thence northerly along said last mentioned line about 99 feet to the beginning. Being the lot on which stands the most easterly but two of the nine houses erected by James Eaton ...10

Cornelia Page resided at the address from 1890 until 1930 when she died."11 Mrs.Page conveyed the premises to Charles M. Page by her last will and testament in 1930.12 Charles Page, and his wife, Mary, lived in the building from 1930 until 1937 when Charles Page died. His widow continued to live there until her death in 1953.13 Charles Page willed the land to Helen Page Thompson who in turn sold the premises to Nellie B. Austen on May 17, 1952. Austen bought it for $10.00, subject to "two mortgages upon said premises held by the Home Savings Bank. The aforesaid mortgages were consolidated by an agreement made February 13,1952 recorded in Mortgages Book 1279 p. 377 on which there is an unpaid principal of $6,448.64 with interest from May 1, 1952 at 5% per annum.14 Nellie Austen, a teacher at School I I and 26, lived on the premises from 1952 until 1968.15 Elizabeth A. Manso and Francis Hynds bought the land from Nellie for $1.00 on October 5, 1967.16 On March 9, 1968, Elizabeth Manso conveyed the property for $ 1.00 to Konstanty and Leontyna Naider.17 Naider who lived at #30 Willett Street, rented out the buildingas apartments.18 Jeffrey Mintz, a teacher,and his wife, Susan, lived in the building from 1969 to 1970.19 Brainerd E. Prescott, a lawyer, lived there from 1969 to 1971.20 Lenora Ryan, also a lawyer, rented an apartment there in 1970.21 In 1972, two retired men rented apartments in the building; John J. M'Gann and John Coren, who stayed only one year.22 In 1974 Nancy E. Stone, a teacher in Voorheesville, was the only tenant in the building.23 Neil J. Cervera, Jr. and his wife are currently the owners of 208 Lancaster Street.24

1.Assessors, City of Albany,Assess-	13.Sampson, Murdock & Co. Albany 
  ment Rolls 1889-1986		           Directory 1930 p.792; 1937 p.569 
2.Sampson, Murdock, & Company,		   1953 p.509 
  Albany Directory 1890 p.243	        14.Deeds Book 1311 p.531 
3.Deeds Book 394 p.308	                15.Sampson, Murdock & Co. Alban           
4.Deeds Book 91  p.252		           Directory 1952 p.56; 1968 p.33 
5.Deeds Book 101 p.392	                16.Deeds Book 1935 p.103 
6.Deeds Book 202 p.198	                17.Deeds Book 1935 p.87 
7.Deeds Book 262 p.100	                18.R.L.Polk & co. Polk's Albany 
8.Deeds Book 394 p.308		           1971 p.501 
9.Deeds Book 831 p.130; Assessors,	19.lbid 1969 p.133 
  City of Albany Assessment Rolls	20.lbid 1969 p.133;   1970 p.129 
  1986 Ward 5 p.59	                21.Ibid 1970 p.129 
10.Deed Book 408 p.275; Book 831	22.lbid 1972 p.136;1973 p.136 
   p. 130	                        23.Ibid 1974 p.641 
11.Sampson, Murdock & Co. Albany        24.Assessors, City of Albany 
   Director.1, 1890 p.243;1930 p.792       Assessment Rolls 1986 Ward 5 p.59 
12.Deeds Book 831 p.130 



Number 420 Broadway is located on the west side of that street between Beaver and State Streets. It has been assessed in Albany's fourth ward (I 819-1834, 1841-1869), sixth ward (1870-1964) and third ward (1835-1840, 1965-1986). The lot has been addressed as #387 Market Street (1819-1831), #359 Market Street (1832-1839), #9 South Market Street (1840-1845) and #420 Broadway (1846-1986).1 In 1802, Spencer Stafford, an Albany merchant, purchased the lot on Market Street from Thomas Gould for $8,000. The lot contained a house and store and measured approximately 33' x 77'2; these dimensions remained constant from 1802-1986.3 Stafford demolished the buildings and, in 1814-1815, erected a new four-story fireproof brick store;4 this structure, although extensively renovated, remains on the lot in 1986. In 1817, after a judgement in the New York State Supreme Court,5 Stafford was forced to sell his lot and store to Bartholomew Hounsfield, a merchant of New York City, for $20,000.6 In July, 1818, Hounsfield sold the property to Edward Canning, also a New York merchant.7 Five years later, in September of 1823,Spencer Stafford repurchased his property from Edward Canning.8Stafford retained ownership until his death in 1844. Despite the legal maneuvering over property ownership, Spencer Stafford, with his son-in-law, Lewis Benedict, operated a stove and hardware business at #387 Market Street from 1815-1825.9 The establishment was one of the first stove-casting firms in the area (this industry assumed major proportions in Albany by the middle of the century); the firm was distinguished along "Hardware Row" by the "sign of the gilt stove" which hung over the doorway.10 Spencer Stafford retired in 1825; two of his sons continued to operate his business at the store from 1825-1831.11 After the later date,the building was rented to other firms, such as Benedict and Raby, dealers in hardware (1831-1836)12 and Gregory and Company, wholesale and retail dealers in crockery (1837-1843).13Boyd and Paul, druggists, occupied the store in 1844-1845. In 1844, Spencer Stafford, a prominent merchant, public servant and well-known citizen of Albany, died.15 His last will .and testament left Stephen B. Gregory as executor of his estate. Stafford requested "that my store in Market Street be sold last of all".16 The property was not sold until 1851 when Robert P. Wiles of Albany, purchased it for $1 1,000. The transaction was subject to a lease by Roswell Steele which was to expire in May, 1851.17 Robert P. Wiles was a real estate and stock brocker.18 It was during his ownership that the building underwent extensive renovation (1851-1855). 19 While the property remained as part of the Wiles estate until 1899, Wiles did not occupy the building, but rented it to various firms. Roswell Steele operated his coach and saddlery business at #420 Broadway from 1846-1864.20 From 1865-1894, the building was rented to Taylor, Wendell & Company, dealers in saddlery hardware;21 they were succeeded by Joseph E. Taylor & Company, saddlery hardware (18951897).22 In 1863, Robert P. Wiles died, leaving his son Thomas executor of his estate.23 Wiles retained the property until 1899, when he deeded it to Edward DeLancey Palmer,24 a real estate and insurance broker. Palmer, in 1907, sold the property to Mr. & Mrs. John C. Andrews for $15,165.26 John C. Andrews moved his boot and shoe manufacturing business from #416 Broadway to #420 Broadway in 1909.27 He operated this business at this address until 1924,28 although he no longer owned the property. In 1921, Andrews sold his land and building to Levi E. WeitlaUf.29 On the same day, December 20, 1921, Weitlauf sold the property to William H. Stoneman of Albany.30 In August, 1924, Stoneman deeded the property to the Stoneman Corporation.31 Ten years later, the Corporation deeded the land back to William H. Stoneman.32 Stoneman was affiliated with M.G. Stoneman and Son, ship chandlers located at #416-418 Broadway.33 420 Broadway was vacant in 1924-1925.34 It was rented by William J. Brayeau, a hairdresser,from 1926-1928 and by Leo A. Merchind, a barber, from 1926-1945.36 On May 3, 1944, William H. Stoneman sold #420 Broadway to William J. Coulson,37 a news dealer at #34 State Street.38 Coulson relocated his business to #420 Broadway in 1945-1946; this firm is now owned by the William J. Coulson Company, Inc.40

1. Rolls, 1819-1986                         20 L.G. Hoffman, Albany Directory 
2. Deeds Book 16 pp.84-86                      pub L.G. Hoffman, 1846 P.283 
3. Assessors, city of Albany Assessment        Adams, Sampson&Co.and Joel
   Rolls 1819-1986                             Munsell, Albany Directory pub.
4. J.J. Munsell, Collections on the            J. Munsell, 1863 P.137.           
   History of Albany.Vol.III, J.            21.Adams, Sampson&Co., Albany 
   Munsell;Albany 1870 p.447                   Directory pub. Van Benthuyen
5. Deeds Book 24 @.347                         1865 p.142; Sampson, Murdock
6. Deeds Book 24 p.345                         &co. Albany Directory, Van 
7. Deeds Book 24 p.475                         Benthuysen pub., 1895 p.392          
8. Deeds Book 26 p.415                      22.Sampson, Murdock&Co. Albany
9. J.J. Munsell, Collections on the            Directory pub. Van Benthuyen
   History of Albany Vol.III.J.	23.            1899 p.392; 1897 p.366. 
   Munsell; Albany, 1870 p.446-449	    23.Book of Wills #19 p.37 
10.lbid	                                    24.Deeds. Book 569 p.316-317
11.lbid                                     25.Sampson, Murdock &Co. Albany,
12.I.W. Scott, Albany, Directory-, pub.        Directory pub. Van Benthuysen 
   J. B. Van Steinberg. 1831 p.50; L.G.        P.566           
   Hoffman, Albany Directory. pub.          26.Deeds Book 316-17            
   L.G. Hoffman, 1837 p.60                  27.Sampson, Murdock&Co. Albany
13.L.G. Hoffman.  Albany Directory             Directory, pub. Weed, Parsons
   pub. L.G. Hoffman, 1837 p. I 10;	       & 1907 p.107.
   1844 p. 1 78	29.                         28.Ibid. 1924 p.812 
14.lbid 1844 p. 102; 1845 p. 1 14	    29.Deeds Book 711 p.229 
15.J.J. Munsell, Collections on the	    30.Deeds Book 711 p.228
   History of Albany, Vol. Ill. J.	    31.Deeds Book 746 p.210 
   Munsell; Albany, 1870 p.450	            32.Deeds Book 872 p.76
16.Deeds of Wills #12 p.144-145             33.Sampson, Murdock&Co., Albany 
17.Deeds Book 11 2 p. 1 12-113.                Directory 1922 p.459.
18.Adams, Sampson & Co.. Albany             34.Ibid. 1924 p.860; 1925p.911
   Directory, pub. Munsell and	            35.Ibid. 1926 p.1007, 1929 p.987
   Rowland; 1860 p.139	                    36.Ibid. 1926 p.1007, 1944 p.529 
19.Assessors, City, of Albany, Assess-	    37.Deeds Book 962 p.383
   ment Rolls, 1851-1855 Ward 4             38.R.L. Polk's Albany. pub R.L.  
	                                       Polk &Co., Boston 1944 p.103 
                                            39.Ibid 1946. p.774.
			                    40.Assessors, City of Albany 
                                               Assessment Rolls, 1986 Ward 3