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Restoring The Historic Dutch Van Ostrande Radliff House

Van Ostrande-Radliff House, 48 Hudson Avenue

In 2016, DutchCultureUSA and the Historic Albany Foundation started the “This Place Matters” Project regarding the Van Ostrande-Radliff House (also called “48 Hudson”). DutchCultureUSA awarded the Historic Albany Foundation a grant to help expand awareness on the historic site and call attention to the need for stabilization and restoration of the house.

Now, the Historic Albany Foundation is beginning its restoration project on this house that is of vast importance to Albany, New York, and the United States as it is one of only a small handful of urban Dutch buildings and of those, the only known timber frame house remaining in the Country. The house is the most tangible vehicle for us to learn about, understand, and experience Dutch urban settlement in the United States.

HAF’s overall goal is to protect the building, ensuring that it is structurally stable and can stand for another 300+ years. The goal in restoring the front facade is to make the building once again visibly Dutch is so the public can better understand and experience traditional Dutch architecture and through that, have a better understanding and appreciation for Dutch settlement in the United States.

Historic Albany Foundation is funding this current phase of the project through a grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

About the Van Ostrande-Radliff House

Built in 1728, the Van Ostrande-Radliff House is documented to be the oldest surviving building in the city.

The Van Ostrande-Radliff House is one of only a handful of North American urban Dutch houses to survive into the twenty-first century, but even greater rarities exist within its construction. The modified anchor beam framing for the side jambless fireplace is the only surviving example of this construction type in the United States, and represents a type of construction that was common in both New York City and Albany throughout most of the period of Dutch cultural dominance. In addition, the molded anchor beam that adorns the front of the building is one of only two in this country to survive in situ. Additional material of particular importance and extreme rarity include the original un-tapered weather board siding, which exists on the west side of the building, and survives in much the same condition as it did when the neighboring structure was built in the early years of the nineteenth century.

The Van Ostrande-Radliff House was built in 1728 during Albany’s culturally Dutch period beginning in 1624 that extended long after the official end of Dutch rule in the region in 1664. The house’s date of construction has been ascertained through documentary sources and corroborated by tree ring dating, or dendrochronology, performed on its framing members. Careful inspection of the building, coupled with its canted front wall, built to conform to Albany’s meandering post-medieval street pattern, leave little doubt that the Van Ostrande-Radliff House was originally built on its current site outside of the stockade as it then existed.

While it is not known exactly how the Van Ostrande-Radliff House appeared during the Dutch cultural period, it is known that the first substantial alteration to the exterior of the house was an enlargement that occurred after the Revolution around 1790. These modifications coincided, as is typical, with the marriage of one of its occupants.

It was at a time of great change in the region, that Albanian Jared Holt purchased the then 100-year-old Van Ostrande-Radliff House and moved his residence there in 1835. Two years later, Holt moved his wax-making business there from another location nearby, and enlarged his new building around 1838 with a masonry wing for his manufacturing process added to the south. This company, which lasted into the 1990s, specialized early on, in making stitching wax to sell to shoe makers in the immediate vicinity. The company left the Van Ostrande-Radliff House in 1892 to another location just outside the core of the city.

In 1848, a substantial area of the Albany riverfront was wiped out in a fire, but 48 Hudson was spared. After the departure of Holt’s company in 1892, a variety of commercial establishments were housed in this building, and in 1935, the building was sold to members of the Saul family, who operated a restaurant supply store in the building until the 1990s, at which time it became vacant. Historic Albany Foundation acquired the building in June 2013.

DutchCulture USA