On Thursday, June 15, 2017, Historic Albany Foundation unveiled two large environmental graphics at the Van Ostrande-Radliff House, otherwise known as 48 Hudson Avenue, the oldest extant building in the city of Albany. The “This Place Matters” project was introduced at a press conference with Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan; Susan Holland, Executive Director of Historic Albany Foundation; and Tessa Dikker, a representative from the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
“This Place Matters” is intended to expand awareness about 48 Hudson and its significance as Albany’s oldest building and the oldest remaining urban Dutch building in the Hudson Valley. The project was funded by a 2016 grant awarded to Historic Albany Foundation by the Dutch Consulate through DutchCulture USA, a division of the government that promotes arts and culture from the Netherlands in the United States.
Installed on the north side of the building is a large, durable fabric scrim depicting in real size what 48 Hudson Avenue might have looked like at the time of its construction ca. 1728, showing features typical of an urban Dutch dwelling. The rendering is based on research from the historical record conducted by Dr. Charles Gehring and Dr. Janny Venema of the New Netherland Research Center about contemporary houses in Dutch Albany, the Netherlands, and New Netherland, of which Albany was a part from 1614 to 1664, when control of the region was transferred to the English. The building is an example of the persistence of Dutch culture in the Hudson Valley long after the close of the Dutch period, and is a rare link to this foundational period in American history. Also part of the north scrim is an informational panel about the building’s history. The panel is part of the “Signs of Greatness” project launched by the Downtown Business Improvement District in September 2016.
The scrim on the east façade draws attention to the building from points east, signifying that it is Albany’s oldest building.
The “This Place Matters” project is the result of a volunteer collaboration between Historic Albany Foundation and several Downtown Albany institutional neighbors and members of the city’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism (CHAT) Partnership, including Mark Schaming, Deputy Commissioner of the NYS Office of Cultural Education and Director of the NYS Museum; Jessica Fisher Neidl, University Editor and Director of Local Government Relations at SUNY System Administration; Lee Gordon Dixon, graphic designer; and Bill Brandow and other preservation architects from John G Waite Associates, Architects. The project team collaborated with Historic Albany to secure the grant that made this creative public art project possible.
The scrim was fabricated and installed by AM&J Digital, based in Albany.
In December 2016, Historic Albany was also the recipient of an Environmental Protection Fund matching grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation of $268,032 for Phase 1 restoration; via the Regional Economic Development Council’s Consolidated Funding Application.
Today, Historic Albany kicked off their fundraising campaign for the matching funds of $89,344; there is also a pledge by a generous donor to match $.50 to every dollar raised by Historic Albany Foundation up to $15,000. The six phase restoration project is slated to cost $2 million over the next five years.
“I am very pleased the Dutch government could help raise awareness for the common heritage of New York and the Netherlands and to help make ‘This Place Matters’ happen,” said Jan Kennis, Deputy U.S. Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. “A country that doesn’t know its past is not ready for the here and now and not prepared for the future. That is why it is so important that the Van Ostrande-Radliff House will be saved for the people of Albany and the Netherlands and for future generations. It is a privilege to team up with the mayor of Albany; the State of New York, and in particular Mark Schaming, who made the beautiful drawing; the team of Charles Gehring at the New Netherland Research Center; NYS Parks; Bill Brandow and Jessica Neidl who first showed me the house; and of course Historic Albany Foundation who is working hard to make the project happen.”
“48 Hudson Avenue is important evidence of our region’s long history of shared cultural heritage with the Netherlands, reaching back to Albany’s settlement by the Dutch more than 400 years ago,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “I'm grateful to Historic Albany Foundation for being stewards of and advocates for this valuable resource, and to the group of volunteers from the CHAT Partnership and other stakeholders who are working together on projects like this and others to lift up what’s special about Albany for the world to see."
“With the support from the Consulate General of the Netherlands and DutchCulture USA, the City of Albany and Mayor Sheehan, plus New York State, the ‘This Place Matters’ campaign is a great priority for so many and for Historic Albany. We are excited to share with the public and our supporters this and the next phases of the project. Please stay tuned as lots of good things are happening around Albany’s oldest building,” stated Susan Holland, Historic Albany Executive Director.