The First Reformed Church of Schenectady is the oldest congregation in the city. Founded by Dutch settlers, Schenectady’s first colonists, the first church lasted over a decade until it burned in the Schenectady Massacre in 1690, when a party of more than 200 French and allied Mohawk warriors attacked the unguarded community of Schenectady, destroying most of the homes, and killing or capturing most of its inhabitants. Sixty residents were killed, including 11 enslaved Africans. An expanding congregation after, outgrew its second and third buildings, replacing them with larger structures. The fourth was lost in Schenectady’s Great Fire of 1861, causing yet another building campaign. The present church building, an architectural landmark in Gothic design, was completed by the highly regarded Victorian-gothic architect Edward Tuckerman Potter in 1863. Potter is also known for his designs of the Nott Memorial Building (previously featured), in Schenectady, and Mark Twain’s home in Hartford, CT. A fire in the church gutted it in 1948, but the community at large banded together to fund the restoration efforts of the amazing architectural landmark.
Thought to be the oldest extant home in Schenectady, New York, the Yates House serves as an excellent example of Dutch-inspired architecture found in the days before the founding of the United States of America. The house, believed to have been constructed around 1730, is an example of Dutch Colonial architecture. Dutch Colonial architecture was clearly common in New Netherland, present-day New York. As a contrast with New England, which featured British-inspired Georgian architecture, the homes and buildings found in the New Netherland colony was unapologetically Dutch. The Yates House in Schenectady’s Stockade neighborhood features a Dutch gable end wall facing the street with interesting brickwork.
Tobias H. Ten Eyck was born in 1717 to a wealthy family from Albany, New York. He lived in Schenectady as a child and met his wife, Rachel De Peyster. The year he married Ms. De Peyster, he had this brick Georgian mansion built, which at the time, had a gambrel roof. Tobias was counted among Schenectady’s wealthiest businessmen, dealing in trade here until his death in 1774. The house was purchased next by James Ellice, who lived in the home with his wife Ann. While on a business trip to Montreal as an “Indian fur trader”, Ellice died at the young age of 33. His widow Ann remarried Joseph C. Yates, a lawyer. The couple occupied this home and Joseph built the one story law office to the side of the building to run his firm out of. He also had this home “modernized in the early 1800s, boxing off the third story and adding the Federal period detailing. He served as the mayor of Schenectady (beginning in 1798), being appointed successively to twelve one-year terms. In 1805 he was elected as a state senator, in 1808 as a State Supreme Court justice, and in 1823, as the seventh governor of New York (1823–1824).
This gorgeous house in Schenectady’s Stockade neighborhood was built in 1792 for Jacob A. Swits. Swits was a descendant of the first settlers of Schenectady and served in the local militia upon the start of the American Revolution. He later, worked in town as a merchant and was involved with local affairs. He became Major General of the regional militia during the War of 1812. Between these two wars, he had this home built, which was likely a asymmetrical three-bay Federal home. Sometime later, the rightmost bay was added and much of the ornate detailing was added.
Welcome to the Stockade Historic District in Schenectady, NY! The National Park Service has described it as “the highest concentration of historic period homes in the country,” from this, the Stockade became New York State’s first local historic district, protecting it from demolitions and unfettered development. The neighborhood began in 1661, when a group of Dutch settlers, mostly merchants and fur traders looking to do business with Native Americans, settled the banks of the Mohawk River. This group of settlers built twelve houses surrounded by a wooden stockade (wooden defensive walls), to protect them from invasions, the neighborhood was named after this feature. The neighborhood developed over the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, providing an amazing layered neighborhood that showcases the best of designs throughout history! This home is no different. It was built around 1850 as an early example of Italianate architecture. It was most notably occupied by the famed Dr. Charles Proteus Steinmetz, a German-born scientist who beat the (then) impossible odds of succeeding with from dwarfism, hunchback, and hip dysplasia. Born Karl August Rudolph Steinmetz, he emigrated to the United States in the 1880s He changed his first name to “Charles” in order to sound more American, and chose the middle name “Proteus“, a wise hunchbacked character from the Odyssey. He got a job with General Electric in Lynn, MA, and was later transferred to Schenectady where he lived out his days. He settled in this quaint home between 1893-97, running a laboratory out of the first floor rooms. He went on to bigger homes, and never married or fostered children. I highly recommend that you all read more about him, he was a truly fascinating person!