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Dr. John Babcock House 

Lasher Road, Beckers Corners, Selkirk

Listed 2003

The Dr. John Babcock House is significant as a remarkably intact example of pattern book inspired “Tuscan style” domestic architecture in the Town of Bethlehem, Albany County, New York. The house has a remarkably high level of historic integrity to its 1851 construction date. Also on the property is a period frame carriage barn. The house was resided in and maintained by four generations of the Babcock family with virtually no changes until passing outside the family to the current owner in 1996.


Dr. John Babcock (1814-1879), a native of the Town of Bethlehem was, according to local histories, perhaps the best known of the town’s nineteenth century medical practitioners. Babcock trained at the Vermont Academy of Medicine in the early 1840s, and he is known to have kept an office at Beckers Corners. Aside from his duties as a local physician in town, which included house visits to patients via horse-drawn carriage, Babcock also served as a director of the Bethlehem Mutual Insurance Association and was likewise and early member of the Elmwood Cemetery Association of Bethlehem.

Hester VanDerzee (1822-1915) married John Babcock in 1842. The couple had seven children, Elizabeth, Maria, Cornelius, Hester, Mary Ann, John, and Robert born between 1843 and 1857.


The Babcock house remains an extremely intact example of mid-nineteenth century domestic architecture, reflecting the onset of the Romantic-Early Victorian period during the waning years of the Greek Revival Styles influence. It is a sophisticated example of rural architecture reflective of its owner’s tastes and familiarity with contemporary architectural publications. The house is remarkable.


(The above is paraphrased from the house’s National Register nomination form.)

First Reformed Dutch Church of Bethlehem

Church Road, Selkirk

Listed 2002

The First Reformed Dutch Church of Bethlehem is architecturally significant in the local context as a fine local example of late nineteenth century ecclesiastical architecture. Built in 1890, the large-scale edifice was designed by noted Albany architect Ernest Hoffman…it retains a high degree of architectural integrity and historic fabric. The property derives additional significance through its more than two century history of association with the Bethlehem congregation and a rare surviving example of an eighteenth-century glebe. Once part of a sparsely settled agricultural center in Rensselaerwyck, the church property today retains much of its rural character and setting.


The beginning of the congregation… dates to 1763. Twenty-eight years after the founding, the church was formally incorporated on December 28, 1791… on December 24, 1795 Stephen Van Rensselaer and the trustees of the church executed a deed giving the church 105 acres of land in the hamlet of Jericho. The deed required the property to be used for the “sole and only benefit and behoof of the aforesaid Reformed Protestant church and for no other intent, use or purpose whatsoever.” Tradition holds that the original church on the property… was erected by the congregation about 1792… in 1821 a new church was constructed… on March 9, 1890 the church burned. The day after the fire the Consistory was convened to discuss plans for the congregation…the cornerstone for the new building was laid in May and the church … completed and dedicated in November 1890.


As designed and constructed… the church is a well-preserved example of late nineteenth century, albeit restrained, Victorian inspired church architecture. The design of the building is decidedly late Gothic or Victorian Gothic as evidence by the use of steep pitch gable roofs, Gothic arched windows, entries and lancets… blended with Queen Anne inspired elements including the building’s complex massing.


Despite modern siding and interior stylistic changes, the First Reformed Dutch Church of Bethlehem remains an important regional example of large-scale frame church architecture. The building is also distinguished as the work of a well-known and respected local maser architect, Ernest Hoffman. The church remains an active focal point within the community… The nominated property is further distinguished by the survival of its early nineteenth century parsonage and the sites of earlier development reflecting more than 200 years of continues use by this congregation.


(The above is paraphrased from the property’s National Register nomination form.) 

Bethlehem Grange

Bridge Street, Beckers Corners, Selkirk

Listed 2002

Bethlehem Grange No. 137 is architecturally significant as an intact representative example of grange hall plan and design in the town of Bethlehem.

Built in 1921 and expanded in 1936, the building replaced the original hall on this site which burned in 1920. The Grange exhibits characteristic features of traditional grange hall design, including a two-story three-by-five bay elongated plan, large open first floor, segmented second story with meeting room and stage platform. Bethlehem Grange No. 137 is notable as one of the early granges established in the state and one of only two surviving Grange Halls in Albany County.


George Sprague originally organized Grange No. 137 on March 17, 1874. The original hall was located on South Pearl Street in the city of Albany. After one year it was decided to relocate the organization to Isaac Gallup’s hotel located at Beckers Corners in the neighboring town of Bethlehem. In 1875 the group opened a first Grange Store in a portion of the hotel. During this early period the Grangers sponsored a number of Day Line excursions on the Hudson River. The success of these events would provide sufficient funds for the group to acquire land and build their first hall.


On January 3, 1880 the site of the present grange hall was acquired from Albertus Becker… and a grange hall constructed … On New Year’s Day, 1920 the grange hall was destroyed by fire... the rebuilding began almost immediately…the grange hall plan designates the first floor of the building as a community space, containing a dining hall, store and kitchen, while the second floor was utilized as a meeting and ceremonial chamber.

With only alterations to the kitchen, the grange retains a high degree of integrity of setting, location, feeling, design association, materials and workmanship. The building remains in use with an active Grange.


(The above is paraphrased from the grange’s National Register nomination form.) 

Schoonmaker House

Beaverdam Road, Selkirk

Listed 2002

The Schoonmaker house, erected in the 1860s, is architecturally significant as a distinctive example of Italianate style residential farm architecture. Stylistically, the house is a traditional transitional interpretation of the Italianate idiom, incorporating elements of both the waning Greek Revival style and the Italianate styles.


The Schoonmaker house, with its intact form, floor plan, interior finishes, moldings and hardware retains a remarkably high degree of integrity. The house with its intact rural setting recalls the mid-nineteen century development of Bethlehem and stands as one of the community’s significant architectural landmarks.


(The above is paraphrased from the house’s National Register nomination form.)


The Schoonmaker family is associated with many imposing brick houses in town. Early settlers are husband and wife pairs Peter Schoonmaker & Neltie VanderLinde and Jacobus Schoonmaker & Elizabeth Ecker who turn up in the First Reformed Church of Bethlehem’s records in 1798. Peter and Jacobus are likely brothers. The 1866 Beers map of Bethlehem has nine different Schoonmakers noted in the vicinity of Beaver Dam, Clapper and Wemple Roads. 

Vanderheyden House

Delaware Avenue, Delmar

L​isted 2001

The Vanderheyden House is architecturally significant as a representative example of the Federal era residential architectures. The building retains a high degree of architectural integrity and displays numerous examples of fine craftsmanship from its period of significance including hand-hewn beams with interlocking joints, wide-board flooring, some original windows and doors (with early brass hardware), intact stair rail and balusters, center entry all, period trim and molding, intact Federal period wood mantels, original wall finishes and an intact floor plan with original room configurations.


On December 12, 1804 the nominated property was included in 103 acres of land leased by John Vanderheyden from Stephen Van Rensselaer. It is unclear whether or not Vanderheyden constructed this house at the time or if the house was already on the land. Sometime between 1804 and 1854 the house was passed to Joseph Hartmann and his wife. It is most likely during Hartmann’s ownership that the half-house was expanded to a full five bays and the Adamesque style renovations were undertaken. In 1854 Hartmann sold the farm to John I. Groesbeck.


The Vanderheyden House…retains a remarkably high degree of integrity. The house with its intact rural setting recalls the post-Revolutionary development of Bethlehem and stands as one of the community’s significant architectural landmarks.


(The above is paraphrased from the house’s National Register nomination form.)

District School No. 1 (aka the Cedar Hill Schoolhouse)

River Road, Cedar Hill, Selkirk

Listed 1997

The District School No. 1 is architecturally significant as a well-preserved two room brick schoolhouse retaining much of its original form and setting. The school is an outstanding example of its type and stands as an important regional example of schoolhouse architecture in New York.


The nominated building was erected in 1859… The parcel on which the building was constructed was purchased from Barent and Anna Winne for $100. The school opened in the fall of 1860. Its first teacher was Mr. Philip A. Miller of Selkirk. The first class had 24 students in it. By 1863 there were 69 students enrolled… with a total district budget of $520.


As built in 1859 and later renovated in 1907, District School No. 1 displays a number of the characteristics associated with schoolhouse development and reform of the mid-nineteenth century. These renovations include the buildings two room plan, separate entry vestibule/coatroom, high ceilings (for increased ventilation) and large evenly spaced windows on three elevations providing bi-directional lighting. The building also displays a number of stylistic features associated with Italianate style. These characteristics include the building’s rectangular plan, overhanding roof eaves, and blind window and door arcades.


The architectural significance of the school is further enhanced by elements added as part of the 1907 renovation. Under the direction of regionally prominent architect, Marcus T. Reynolds, the school was enlarged and renovated. These alterations included the addition of a new entry and vestibule wing and the extension of the masonry block of the building to incorporate a second classroom. Most striking of these changes was the addition of a central domed cupola. This ornate element not only served as an architectural focal point, it also served as a ventilation tower to aid in the movement of air in the newly renovated building.


In 1962… the schoolhouse was closed… in 1964 the school was given to the town of Bethlehem… in 1965 the Bethlehem Historical Association was formed and the school was offered by the town as the home for the new group and museum. It continues to serve both these functions to the present day.


(The above is paraphrased from the house’s National Register nomination form.)

Patterson Farmhouse 

Murray Avenue, Delmar

Listed 1997


The Patterson Farmhouse is located in what once was an agricultural settlement known as Adamsville. It survives in an area of large modern residential homes in a major suburb of Albany. The property was once an extensive farm containing several outbuildings, dairy barns, orchards and fields... all which have been destroyed.


The Patterson Farmhouse, built circa 1840, is an architecturally significant example of early nineteenth century Hudson Valley farmhouse in the Greek Revival style of architecture. It has a Greek Revival form and has both Federal Colonial and Greek Revival decorative details in its interior… the essential portions of the building are plain with minimal ornamentation, in keeping with its being a working family farmhouse typical of the nineteenth century.


On May 3, 1810, William Patterson leased 107 acres of land from Stephen Van Rensselaer. Patterson constructed a Dutch Barn on the property… the farmhouse as it presently exists was added circa 1840. Patterson died in 1883 and his son James inherited the farm. James Patterson operated the farm until 1895. A succession of owners followed, until the land was subdivided in 1937.


The Patterson Farmhouse reflects the spirit of Greek Revival architecture—bold in silhouette, broad in proportions, and simplified in details. It also reflects the significant role that agriculture once played in the hamlet of Delmar, which is now a suburban bedroom community.


(The above is paraphrased from the house’s National Register nomination form.)

Albert Slingerland Farmhouse

March 2021

Bridge Street, Slingerlands

Listed 1997


The Albert Slingerland Farmhouse satisfies Criterion C for its architectural significance as intact representative example of vernacular Greek Revival design in the town of Bethlehem. Built circa 1840, the farmhouse and its complement of historic dependencies retain substantial integrity of design and setting from the mid-nineteenth century.


The town of Bethlehem was settled in the seventeenth century by farmers of predominantly Dutch descent, typically leasing land from the Van Rensselaer patroons... The Slingerland family, first appearing in the Dutch colonial records of Albany in the 1650s, prospered … and farmed land in Bethlehem and the adjacent town of New Scotland.


The early history of the farm occupied by Albert Slingerlands and his wife Catherine until 1854 has not been documented. Oral tradition suggests that members of the Slingerland family farmed this area as early as the 1780s… the present farmhouse and outbuildings were clearly built about 1840 judging from a careful inspection of style and construction. The farmhouse exemplifies the front-gable side ell house type, common in New York State in the period between 1830 and 1870, in its proportions and architectural detailing… The Albert Slingerland Farmhouse stands out as one of the few historic farmhouses … which retains its full complement of historic dependencies and largely unaltered setting.


Albert and Catherine Slingerland sold the house and 12.7 acres in 1854 to Henry and Mary Kilmer… the Kilmer family is believed to have been responsible for building the circa 1860 addition to the rear of the house and installing the Italianate style doors at the façade.


(The above is paraphrased from the house’s National Register nomination form.)

 Bethlehem Post Office

February 2021

U. S. Post Office

Delaware Avenue, Delmar

Listed 1988


The Delmar Post Office, constructed in 1939-40, is architecturally significant as an intact representative example of the federal architecture erected as part of the public works projects initiated by the United States government during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Its simplified design illustrates forms and decoration derived from American Colonial and Federal period architecture... the use of a standard pattern for this building reflects the increasing simplicity of design and standardization of form which are characteristic of post office of this period, the most prolific period of post office construction in the nation’s history… in addition to the architectural importance of the Delmar Post office, the building contains an artistically significant and well-preserved mural painted in 1940.


The Delmar Post Office is one of thirteen virtually identical New York State post offices authorized beginning in 1931 and designed by Supervising Architect of the Treasury Louis A. Simon…. The Delmar Post Office is a simple, but well-proportioned and finely detailed building designed in the Colonial Revival style… The Delmar Post Office and its twelve cousins have particularly fine entrances with fluted Doric columns and blind fanlights, into each of which is set an American eagle.


(The above is paraphrased from the building’s National Register nomination form.)


Town Historian Susan Leath has written up the Delmar Post Office in her blog. Click for a whole series of photos documenting the construction of the Delmar Post Office and then click here to check out this post from 2014 that includes information about the mural in the lobby

 Bethlehem House (aka the Nicoll-Sill House) 

January 2021

Dinmore Road, Cedar Hill, Selkirk

Listed 1973

The Rensselaer Nicoll House, also known as the Bethlehem House, represents an architectural growth not a type. In its multiple additions lie the buildings immense historical interest as the expression of changing needs and life-styles of one family throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


Located within the Van Rensselaer Patent, the building site was determined by its proximity to the falls in the Vlaumanskill where a sawmill was built in the mid-seventeenth century… Rensselaer Nicoll, the fourth patroon’s nephew, built his house here in 1736… at the time of his marriage to Elizabeth Salisbury… its scale and elegance show a marked resemblance to her father’s house in Leeds near Catskill.


Just over sixty years after the house was built, Francis Nicoll made the southern addition to his father’s house… his addition reflects architectural originality and sensitivity…


Francis Nicoll had been a member of the Albany Committee of Public Safety throughout the Revolutionary War and continued to be a prominent local political figure. His enthusiasm for updating the family house showed again in a second addition made at the end of his lifetime around 1810, the west extension with the first permanently attached kitchens and the slave quarters above.


The family slaves were freed by William Nicoll Sill (1786-1844), Francis’ grandson, who inherited most of the family estate sharing part of it with his brother John. This first subdivision of the property between the Sill brothers was the beginning of a trend which… whittled away the size of a once self-sufficient estate.


(The above is paraphrased from the house’s National Register nomination form.)


Bethlehem House was documented by the Historic American Building Survey in 1934.


To see photos and drawings, click here