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Kenwood, Albany, New York facts for kids

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City of Albany, New York
Formerly: Rensselaer's Mills, Lower Hollow
Name origin: Named by Major Joel Rathborne after a place in Scotland
Country United States
State New York
Region Capital District
County Albany
Municipality City of Albany
Neighborhood South End
River Normans Kill
Elevation 32.8 ft (10 m)
Coordinates 42°37′35″N 73°46′08″W / 42.62639°N 73.76889°W / 42.62639; -73.76889
Settled 1618
Annexed to Albany 1916
Timezone EST (UTC-5)
 - summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP Code 12209
Area code 518

Kenwood is 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 Normans Kill (Dutch for creek) along the Albany and Bethlehem Turnpike. The portion of Kenwood in Bethlehem has since been abandoned, along with the turnpike and the bridge over the Normans Kill; this is closed to traffic.


Kenwood, formerly known as Lower Hollow or Rensselaer's Mills, dates to the earliest of Dutch settlement in New York's Capital District. (Upper Hollow is upstream at Normansville.) The Dutch built a fort here in 1618 along a creek that the native inhabitants called Tawasentha. This fort replaced a 1614 fort on Castle Island lost due to the annual freshet that occurs along the Hudson River. In 1637 Albert Bradt built a mill here. From Norway, he was nicknamed the Norman, and the Tawasentha was named Normans Kill after him.

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

This land was part of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck; the Patroon Van Rensselaer had various mills built here after the US Revolutionary War. 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. Robert Van Rensselaer lived in a house on the turnpike near the bridge that carried the road over the Normans Kill.

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. He named his estate Kenwood in honor of a place in his native Scotland.

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.

In 1863 the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad opened from Albany through Kenwood on its way to Adams Station (Delmar), Slingerlands and New Scotland, and eventually to Binghamton. At Kenwood was the Kenwood Junction, the meeting place of the West Shore Railroad and the Albany and Susquehanna. 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. 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.

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. 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 Normans Kill.

Prior to this, Southern Boulevard (US Route 9W), to the northwest of Kenwood, was authorized as a highway to connect Delaware Avenue in Albany to the turnpike at Corning Hill Road in Bethlehem, thereby bypassing Kenwood. Construction of the new highway was completed in 1916. 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 annexed to Albany; the land south of the creek became part of Bethlehem School District Number 7.

Kenwood Academy

In 1859 the Female Academy of the Sacred Heart (a Catholic institution) bought the Rathborne 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. The school changed its name to the Kenwood Academy. In 1975, it merged with the Episcopal St Agnes School; the new institution was named the Doane Stuart School. The school severed its ties with the Catholic nuns of the Sacred Heart order. It offered to buy the campus but was refused. The school moved across the Hudson River to Rensselaer.

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. 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.


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