This is a different kind of story. It’s not about a building or history. It’s a tribute to a friend of mine that I did not realize I had lost until very recently. I wanted to honor her, and share her story with as many people as I could. Posting this on my blog was the best way I could think of. I hope our story touches you. I also realize that I don’t have any photographs of my friend Alexis. Not from high school, or any other time. So this post is illustrated with historic photographs of South New Berlin, NY, where she lived, and we both went to junior and high school. In our 7th grade history class we learned about our town’s history, as well as greater NY State history. Our teacher, Mrs. Johnson, would have loved these postcards and photographs.
During the summer between my sixth and seventh grades, my parents transferred us from one school to another. My mother had gotten a job teaching at South New Berlin Central School, which was the next town over from our home in Gilbertsville, where my brother and I were attending school. Both towns were about the same size, in fact, South New Berlin was smaller, with the same population and demographics – small villages in rural upstate New York.
That summer, I was going into 7th grade – junior high, and my brother Mark was about to be in 5th grade. Mom thought we would better thrive at SNB, and since she was driving there anyway, it seemed a good idea. So, for me, after six years in one school, I would be attending another, in a strange town, with new people.
The Principal of South New Berlin Central School was Richard Marsters. He was a very disciplined, but fair man, probably due in part to his experiences commanding a warship during World War II. He was also an educator to the core, and would have been an asset to education anywhere. He hired my Mom in a heartbeat, something that was quite daring in very white, rural upstate New York in the late 1960s. My brother and I were the only African American students in the school.
1/2/2018 8 Comments
After settling into my new home in North Central, several years ago, I began exploring my neighborhood. As the leaves began to fall in autumn, a building appeared on the hill, near Oakwood Cemetery. It was best viewed from Glen Avenue, which formed a straight line up the hill to the house from the Hudson River.
From my vantage point on River Street, the building looked like an old mansion, a temple-front Greek Revival brick house standing high over the city. It was surrounded by the buildings making up Troy Housing Authority’s Martin Luther King Apartments. Everyone local I spoke to knew the MLK Apartments, but they had no idea what the mansion was, if it had a name, or anything about it.
I love an architectural and historic mystery, so I was determined to find out what that building was. It took little time to find out that the building was now used as the Administration Office of the Troy Housing Authority. But what was it before that?
Turns out, it’s one of Troy’s most important buildings, built for one of Troy’s most important families. Their legacy is not only important to the local area, but like many things that have come out of Troy, was important to the entire country. This is the story of the Eddy family, the family business, and their home - a mansion called “Glenwood.”
My name is Suzanne Spellen. I've been many things: a writer, historian, preservationist, musician, traveler, designer, sewer, teacher, and tour guide; a long time Brooklynite and now, a proud resident of Troy, NY.