The Albany Country Clubhouse in McKownville
William Knowles house which
      became the Albany Country Clubhouse 1895Albany Country Clubhouse
(left) Photo from 1895 of the house William J. Knowles sold to the Albany County Club, before its enlargement.
(Times-Union reproduction 10 February 1963 of photo then in Morris Gerber collection)
(right) Photo from before 1908 of the enlarged clubhouse (crop from Augustus Pruyn photo card, in files of Albany City Library)
The gable on the old house front is the only feature remaining obviously visible, becoming the smaller gable in the center of the front of the clubhouse.

The club house of the Albany Country Club was much enlarged from the farmhouse of William J Knowles, known then as "Woodlawn", purchased by the Club in 1894 along with 18 acres, and expanded in 1898 to a design of Marcus T Reynolds, a well known architect of the time in Albany. William Knowles and his family moved to a house he purchased with 3 acres in McKownville on the north side of Western Avenue, which can still be seen today at 1261 Western Avenue, at the intersection with Knowles Terrace.
The Club modified a dam across the east branch of the Krumkill stream to enlarge a small lake for skating and swimming; this pond and its earth dam still exist on the State University of New York at Albany campus. The Club later expanded its property in the early 1900's with purchases of the Hendrickson and Sealey farms in order to build an 18-hole golf course in addition to the original 9-hole course. The Albany Hunt and Country Club was started in 1890, initially using a different old farmhouse as its first clubhouse. The Albany Argus newspaper published in their edition of Sunday 7 May 1899 an extensive article on the newly expanded club property and the exclusive club membership.

map covering the northern part of McKownville, from USGS Albany quadrangle map of 1953;
showing the position of the Country Club house, and annotated to show the location of the club pond,
and of the Barnes Lodge (BL), a private residence also designed by Marcus Reynolds.
USGS map extract of
      Mckownville 1953vertical
      view air photo c.1950 Albany County Club
portion of vertical air photo view taken c. 1950 showing part of the Albany Country Club
property and golf course fairways, and the pond on the property.
Western Avenue is the straight road near the bottom left of the image;
Washington Avenue is the straight road near the upper right.
Photo view extends farther east and north than the map, and is not shown at the same scale.

The decision in 1960 by Nelson Rockefeller, New York State governor at that time, to emplace the University uptown campus on the Country Club grounds was greatly resented by many of the Club members, some of whom were observed to continue to play golf even when the bulldozers were starting the destruction of the former well-loved course and grounds. The Club, after some legal negotiations, was sufficiently compensated from New York State public funds to be able to purchase land and create a new Club house and grounds with a championship-quality golf course in Voorheesville, a few miles to the southwest.
The State took possession of the old property, including the clubhouse, January 3rd 1961.
In February 1963, while the early stages of construction of the University were underway, this old clubhouse was deliberately destroyed by fire.
The Barnes Lodge was purchased by the Capital Area Council of Churches in 1965. They repurposed the Lodge as an interdenominational chapel for students, and it also was gutted by fire, in May 1985.
The former location of the clubhouse was first occupied by a rank of tennis courts; now it is in the center of the area covered in the plastic surfaces of the two lacrosse/hockey "fields".

McKownville on Sidney map
Part of the 1851 Sidney Map of the vicinity of Albany and Troy, showing the area of McKownville and surroundings.
It is of historical interest that the house that William Knowles sold to the Country Club is shown on the 1851 Sidney map, in the right place on the west side of the Krumkill stream east branch, labelled with the name W Cooper (William Cooper), so it was at least that old. Another house to the north, also labelled W Cooper, may be the location of the farmhouse used as the first, temporary clubhouse.

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