Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Delmar Post Office

Did you ever notice this small plaque on the right side of the front door to the Delmar Post Office?


The post office was added to the National Register in 1988 with its historic significance being in its architecture.  In 1939, Louis Simon of the US Treasury Department was the supervising architect for several Colonial Revival post office buildings including the one in Delmar.  This is the only one without a cupola gracing the roof line.

The front view of the Delmar Post Office hasn't changed much in the 74 years since this postcard was mailed.

Inside is this mural painted by Sol Wilson called The Indian Ladder.

Sol Wilson (1893-1974) saw himself as an "expressive realist" and told his students "you cannot escape your own feelings, or your lack of feelings, about life in your painting."  So, next time you are waiting in line at the Delmar Post Office you can ponder what Wilson was thinking and feeling as he composed and painted this piciture of an iconic Albany county location. 

For more examples of Sol Wilson's work, visit this website:   http://www.juliehellergallery.com/JHG/Sol_Wilson.html

For more on post office art in New York visit http://www.wpamurals.com/newyork.htm.  The website points out that post office art was commissioned by the Treasury Department Section of Painting and Sculpture not by the Works Progress Administration. Wilson did do other art for the WPA.

And finally, if you are curious about the National Register,  you can scan through Albany County National Register listings at
but note that this list is not up to date.  

Here's a complete,  Bethlehem only list.

Bethlehem House,  Dinmore Road, Cedar Hill, Selkirk   
U.S. Post Office, Delaware Avenue, Delmar    
Slingerlands House, 36 Bridge Street, Slingerlands 
Patterson Farmhouse, 47 Murray Avenue, Delmar   
District School No. 1, 1003 River Road, Cedar Hill,  Selkirk     
VanDerHyden House, 823 Delaware Ave, Delmar     
Schoonmaker House, 283 Beaverdam Road, Selkirk   
Bethlehem Grange,  24 Bridge Street, Beckers Corners, Selkirk    
First Dutch Reformed Church, Church Road, Selkirk    
Babcock House, 101 Lasher Road,  Selkirk   
Rowe Farm,  281 Bridge Street,  Selkirk  
Slingerlands Historic District,  New Scotland Road,  Bridge St, Mullens Rd, Slingerlands                     Sprong House,  698 Kenwood Avenue, Slingerlands   

August 18, 2012

Monday, November 10, 2014

Connecting J. White Sprong and Gustave Lorey

Today's amusing history thread started with this handsome photo of J. White Sprong.  Sprong you might remember from previous posts lived in a lovely Victorian home that still stands on Kenwood Avenue. He was an executive with the D&H Railroad. After noticing his watch fob and rimless eye glasses, my gaze went to the signature of the photographer: Gustave Lorey.

A little noodling around on Google led me to this charming photo from the Albany Institute. It is dated 1925 and is by Lorey.

Maybe, I thought, this is Bethlehem's Cedar Hill - wouldn't that be neat.

A little bit more noodling around on the newspaper websites turned up some facts about Lorey.  He was a well known photographer in Albany and Saratoga Springs. Born in 1868, Died in 1937. Married to Mira Ingalls.  No children.  His studio carried on well after his death.  I found a reference to the Gustave Lorey Studio as late as 1960.

And then I found this interesting tidbit after looking under Mira Ingalls Lorey.

It is from the Albany Evening News, Monday January 31, 1927.  Gustave and Mira are dining with the Hakes and Wheelers - prominent families at Van Wies Point in Glenmont and the Lyons - a very prominent family of, you guessed it, Cedar Hill.

So, maybe, just maybe, that charming Halloween photo is from our very own Bethlehem.


So, I published this on a Monday afternoon. The next day I am at my church, Delmar Reformed, and see this plaque over in a corner.  Notice a familiar last name?  I am being haunted by Sprongs!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Boundary Lines

I've been pondering Bethlehem's northern line in preparation for a talk I am giving with Albany city historian Tony Opalka.

Did you ever wonder about that funny part that sticks out on top?

We used to have a nice straight northern border with Albany.  It kind of sort of looked this.

Then Albany got land grabby - or maybe the residents just wanted city services.   1870, 1910/1916 and 1967 saw large chunks go over to the city.

That inward cove on the modern map covers the contentious Hurstville/Karlsfeld annexation that started in 1964 and was finalized in 1967.  How about this juicy quote from a 1964 Knick News article:

"Bethlehem town officials complain that the city is gnawing away at town land and possibly planning to swallow up all of North Bethlehem eventually."*

Have I roused your curiosity to learn more?  Come to our talk at the Bethlehem Historical Association, November 20, 7 pm at the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse, 1003 River Road, Selkirk.  It is free and open to the public.

And check out the book  How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein.  It is a fun read about all those weird state boundary lines.

* Annexation Battle Recalls Other Bethlehem Border Clashes by John Machacek. The Knickerbocker News September 8, 1964.