Kenwood, Albany, New York

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Etymology: Named by Major Joel Rathborne after a place in Scotland
Kenwood is located in New York
Location of Kenwood within the state of New York
Coordinates: 42°37′35″N 73°46′08″W / 42.62639°N 73.76889°W / 42.62639; -73.76889Coordinates: 42°37′35″N 73°46′08″W / 42.62639°N 73.76889°W / 42.62639; -73.76889
Country United States
State New York
Region Capital District
County Albany
Settled 1618
32.8 ft (10.0 m)
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP Code
Area code(s) 518

Kenwood was a neighborhood in the southern part of 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 (Dutch for creek) along the Albany and Bethlehem Turnpike.


Kenwood, formerly known as Lower Hollow or Rensselaer's Mills, dates to the earliest Dutch settlement in New York's Capital District.[1][2] (Upper Hollow is upstream at Normansville.) The Dutch built a fort there in 1618 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] In 1637, Albert Bradt built a mill there.[1][4] From Norway, Bradt was nicknamed "the Norman", and the Tawasentha was named Normans Kill after him.[5]

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

The area that later became the Kenwood neighborhood was part of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck; the Patroon Van Rensselaer 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] 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 named his estate Kenwood in honor of a place in his native Scotland.[7]

In 1870, the city of Albany annexed a portion of Kenwood (including the first mile of the turnpike, the toll-gate, and the Rathbone estate). The city was sued (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, considered 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 latter would be leased and then purchased by the Delaware and Hudson Railway. It was bought out by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) in 1990.[9] In 2000 CP had concerns about the safety of the bridge at Kenwood; soon after that, it abandoned the entire line from Kenwood to Voorheesville.[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, with a total of 150 persons.[1]

In 1916, Southern Boulevard (US Route 9W), to the northwest of Kenwood, was constructed as a highway to connect Delaware Avenue in Albany to the turnpike at Corning Hill Road in Bethlehem, thereby bypassing Kenwood.[12] That year, Kenwood was annexed by Albany and became part of its 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. The Bethlehem School District Number 12 school house was on the north bank, and therefore was annexed to Albany; the land south of the creek became part of Bethlehem School District Number 7.[13] In the early 1930s, South Pearl Street was built along a new path; it was designated as New York State Route 32. Because of the new road, much of the original turnpike route through Kenwood was abandoned. Roads on the Bethlehem side ended at the Normans Kill.

Kenwood Academy

In 1859, the Female Academy of the Sacred Heart (a Catholic institution) bought the Rathbone Mansion and related structures, along with 53 acres (210,000 m2) of the estate. In 1867, it tore down the mansion, but reused its materials in the construction of a new church on the property. School buildings were also constructed. President-elect Grover Cleveland visited the campus in 1884.[4] The school changed its name to the Kenwood Academy.

In 1975, the Kenwood Academy merged with the Episcopal St Agnes School; the new institution--which continued to operate on the Kenwood campus for several decades--was named the Doane Stuart School.[14] The Doane Stuart School moved away from the Kenwood campus to a new campus in Rensselaer, New York in 2009.[15]

Following the departure of The Doane Stuart School, the former Kenwood Academy campus, consisting of 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.[16] 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.[17] The property was sold on August 21, 2017 for the sum of $3 million.[18] The purchaser of the property stated that the property would be redeveloped as a condominium complex.[19]


Famous residents

See also


  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. Archived from the original on 2010-12-04. 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. ^ "Heart magazine". December 2008. p. 14. Archived from - RSCJ website the original Check |url= value (help) (pdf document) on 2008-11-21.
  15. ^ Scott Waldman (September 17, 2009). "Doane Stuart moves across Hudson River". Albany Times Union. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Lauren Lynn Fischer (January 20, 2010). "Local sites make "Seven to Save list"". Albany Times Union. Archived from the original on February 4, 2013. Retrieved 2010-03-02.
  18. ^ Robin Cooper (August 21, 2017). "Investors buy Kenwood Convent property in Albany". Albany Business Review. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  19. ^ Brian Nearing (August 22, 2017). "New owner tells plans for Kenwood Academy site". Albany Times Union. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  20. ^ Linda Hernick. "Women's History in the Collections". New York State Education Department/New York State Museum. Retrieved 2010-03-10.
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