Getting reacquainted with Schenectady's Stockade

stockade lawrence

Meet Lawrence.

By Akum Norder

I'm passionate about my Albany neighborhood. It takes a lot for me to imagine living somewhere else.

But you know what? The Stockade's enough to make me wonder.

When a 200-year-old Schenectady Stockade home recently lost part of its front wall, apparently a victim of water damage from melting snow and ice, it made me consider that I hadn't been over there in a while. A two-hour walk in the neighborhood's springtime sunlight made me remember: The Stockade is one of the Capital Region's superlative neighborhoods. It's a jewel. And it should be a source of pride for our whole region.

stockade montage

This is where Schenectady began, as a cluster of houses behind a wooden stockade in the 1660s. The neighborhood was burned in the massacre of 1690 (Maeve McEneny wrote a bit about that for AOA last year). But Stockade residents rebuilt. About a hundred years on, Washington stopped by. Lafayette visited, too. People have lived here continuously for more than 300 years.

The Stockade was New York's first designated historic district. More than 40 houses are over 200 years old. The neighborhood association calls it the oldest residential neighborhood in the country, and quotes the National Park Service's assessment: "the highest concentration of historic period homes in the country."

But you don't even have to like history to love the Stockade. Just enjoy beautiful spaces. The neighborhood has an intimate scale. Graceful houses line quiet streets. Walled gardens tantalize.

Of course, if you come in the fall for the Stockade Walkabout, you can tour some of these homes. But don't wait till then for a wander: This is a good time to see the Stockade, before the trees fill out and the leaves get in the way.

stockade 2

stockade montage1

stockade st. george's
St. George's Episcopal Church, 1762.

Call up a walking tour map on your phone and let it guide you. The Schenectady County Historical Society, in the neighborhood at 32 Washington Ave., has some walking tour brochures geared to kids; but they're out of copies of the regular walking tour flier and are waiting for a reprint.

Alternately, bring a guide to American Architecture (for its portable size, I like this one) and get some practice identifying early American types. You could hardly find a neighborhood more suited to it. Dutch colonial, Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic? All here. And more.

stockade gothic

Bring a camera and create some art for your desktop. Heck, you can just bring a cup of coffee and wander with no goal higher than your own pleasure.

stockade arthur's But you'd better plan to bring your own coffee. Arthur's, a neighborhood fixture for most of the 20th century, is closed. The fact that there's been a market in that building, 35 North Ferry, since 1795 makes its vacancy seem especially wrong. Let's hope it's temporary.

stockade collapse
The Front Street home that partially collapsed last month.

Water damage in the Stockade is not something new. Some of the houses have beautiful Mohawk River views from their back windows -- but once in a while, the river view comes even closer than that. There have been times Stockade residents have left their homes by rowboat.

But no matter what comes, this neighborhood will, I think, find a way to survive.

Walking the Stockade this week made me recall my mother's reaction some time ago, the first time I brought her over to the Stockade after years of visiting me in Albany: "Why have you been hiding Schenectady from me? Schenectady is wonderful!"

And you know, the Stockade is such an incredible neighborhood that it's hard to argue with her.

stockade 1

Find It

Schenectady's Stockade Neighborhood

Schenectady, NY 12305

The map centers, approximately, on the statue of Lawrence the Indian in the heart of the Stockade.

Comments

I ran in the 2009 Stockadeathon and it was the first time I've ever been there. It was hard to focus on running it was so neat. And had some of the nicest spectators.

If you're hesitant to wander, there's a fantastic Stockade Walking Tour in brochure form, put out by the Schenectady Chamber of Commerce, the Schenectady County Historical Society, Schenectady Heritage Area Visitor's Center and the Stockade Association. You can print it out for free at http://www.slideshare.net/guestab48e4c7/stockade-walking-tour-brochure-1620093

Love the walking tour!

The neighborhood is low-traffic and totally accessible to bring kids. You can end at Riverside Park or cross the bridge into Scotia and grab some soft serve at Jumpin' Jacks.

Alternatively, there are some great spots to grab a pint...

Don't bring your own coffee - go to the Moon and River Cafe!

...and pretty soon, we'll have a breakfast and lunch bagel extablishment oppposite the Van Dyck on Union Street.

Great article! I live in the Stockade and it's a wonderful neighborhood. People are nice to each other and Riverside Park has to be one of the nicest parks in the Capital Region. However there has been a lot of graffit popping up on various buildings throughout the Stockade. This is a shame and the SPD should be on the look-out.

I agree Graham, N. College has various graffiti all over- not good. Let's get that cleaned up and be on the lookout!

The Stockade is a wonderful place to visit and is full of historical value. Let's never loose that and preserve this wonder for future generations to see and experience. We can still see some graffiti and this takes away some of the splendor. However, nothing is more beautiful than the Stokade....will love to live there in the future.

I live in Ca now but lived in Sch'dy for the 1st 20 yrs of my life. I love (present tense) the Stockade. Father Darwin Kirby was my God Father so St Georges Church, the stockade, Father Kirby's home and Judge Graves home (across the street) were places I was very comfortable in. I'll be visiting my sisters soon. Both of whom still live in Sch'dy. I'll stop by the Lower Club, the Stockade, Lock 7, Orchard Park
Sad to hear about Arthur's. My Mother shopped there. What is the name of the Bar where you can get the biggest Roast beef sandwiches ever?

Glad this post got resurrected. Arthur's Public Market is open. AoA mentioned it briefly in January. Here's a post about it, with pictures from Suns along the Mohawk, a stockade blog.
http://tinyurl.com/ArthursOpens

Here's the Moon&River/Arthur's schedule
http://www.moonandrivercafe.com/calend.php

There was recently a fund-raiser held to help Arthur's keep the doors open. It's an important space in the Stockade community and should be supported.

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