Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween

In honor of one of my favorite holidays, I've shared some ghostly stories at my other blog:

A Handful of Hauntings @ Albany (NY) History

The photo above is a casket-like monument (completely with sculpted floral arrangements) in the Albany Rural Cemetery.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Juniper bushes near the intersection of Madison Avenue and Eagle Streets...I've always loved the subtle silvery gray-blue color of the berries. These low shrubs are located across from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception...and close to the location of Albany's last public execution by hanging!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fallen Tree

Monuments in the shape of trees aren't uncommon in the Albany Rural Cemetery. The cut trunk represents the end of a life and the lack of branches often means there were no direct descendants. Carved ivy, a symbol of fidelity and faith, is often seen winding around the stone trunk.

This sandstone monument to Anna Armsby, which has sadly tipped over, is one of the more distinctive examples. Not only does it feature the usual symbols mentioned above, it also featured a hole cut into its flat top where real vines were to grow.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Old Market House

There is a set of plaques on the medians along State Street between Eagle and Lodge Streets. Each one gives a brief history of sites along this block, including the location of Fort Frederick and St. Peter's Episcopal Church. This one identifies the location of an early Market House, a wooden pavilion that provided stalls for produce vendors on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lake House Sirens

Pairs of terra cotta sirens and graceful shells add elegance to the interior of the Washington Park Lake House.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Broken Fences

A number of plots in the Albany Rural Cemetery are surrounded by fences as ornamental as the monuments themselves. This badly deteriorated cast iron fence encloses a family plot on the crest of a hill not far from the Cemetery's main entrance. The railing includes the popular mourning motif of inverted - but not extinguished - torches. Similar torches are found on monuments throughout the Cemetery. This family plot also includes a marble portrait medallion by Erastus Dow Palmer and the grave of Colonel Lewis Benedict, killed at the Battle of Pleasant Hill in 1864.

Monday, October 11, 2010

After The Party

A couple of strings of green, white, and red paper lanterns hang near the Lake House in Washington Park...left over from Saturday's Italian-American Festival.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Madison Relic

This is the smaller of two graceful cast iron columns accenting a derelict Queen Anne-style mansion on Madison Avenue just west of Washington Park.

This ca. 1889 building must have been absolutely beautiful in its youth and, despite several decades of almost complete neglect, it's still a gorgeous building...or, at least, a gorgeous shell. Believed to be the work of Albert Fuller, its interior is quite gutted. Windows are boarded, the roof is rotting, floors look to dangerous for even a ghost to waft across. Mantles and other interior elements were long ago stripped.

I've had dreams now and then that I've bought the place (it is for sale again) and am about to renovate it. But restoring this too-long abandoned house would take a small fortune that I certainly don't have! Still, it's nice to dream...and this isn't the only place I dream of!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Detailed Door Knob

It's not hard to find artistic gems in the Albany Rural Cemetery, as I know I've mentioned before. But some of them are small surprises. A tiny, graceful statue along an overgrown path, a poetic inscription on a worn headstone. This doorknob is one of those little discoveries. Featuring a classic head that would be well-suited to an antique cameo, it's an elegant touch on an otherwise austere and weathered old mausoleum on a hill not far from the Cemetery's main entrance.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Old Maiden Lane

Tucked high on the wall of a building at the corner of James Street is a small old street sign for Maiden Lane. The sign - which is about the size of a brick and appears to be cut from white stone - is one of two I've found so far. There is a similar sign mounted on the wall of a house at the corner of Clinton Avenue and Ten Broeck Street.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Butterfly Surprise

According to my calendar, it isn't officially autumn until I've had my first Pumpkin Spice Latte (and matching muffin) of the season. It's my personal rite of fall. But with the recent unseasonably warm days followed by a couple of days of drenching rain and high winds, I didn't indulge in that little ritual until this morning. It was clear and cold and breezy. Perfect Pumpkin Spice weather.

I took a break from putting the final touches on a book I've been working on for at least ten years and headed off to Starbucks with a friend.

On the way home, I was surprised to see a very large and very vivid Monarch butterfly alight on a bush along the edge of Washington Park. The second gorgeous butterfly I've seen so close this summer, it stayed on the flowers long enough for me to take a half dozen pictures. But, with the breezy and my less than steady aim, only this one...the last one...turned out well.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Stained Glass Angel

Albany Rural Cemetery is full of artistic gems, from architecturally impressive vaults to delicate statues hidden off the beaten path. A number of its mausoleums feature beautiful stained glass windows (including at least one exquisite piece by Tiffany). This angel with a rich amber and crimson color scheme and a vivid stylized sun ornaments the Lathrop-Lawton vault not far from the Schuyler and Corning family plots.