The Five Mile House, its location, and William McKown's lease
map of
      former location of Five Mile TavernMap made in 1939 by William Efner, showing the former location of the Five Mile House,
then under the green of the 18th hole on the golf course of the Albany Country Club. This tavern was leased by the City of Albany to William McKown from 1787 to 1808. The symbol just to the right of the tavern is probably meant to represent the well sited in that position. No pictures# of the old Five Mile House are known to exist.
This map and other documents by W.B. Efner and W.D. Mohr used as sources for this page are in the WD Mohr archive at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve [organized and contributed by Steve Rider].

This tavern was the second hostelry going west along the "Kings Highway", the original road between Albany and Schenectady, and the main road until the Schenectady Turnpike opened in the early 19th century. The tavern got its name from the location about 5 miles along the road from the Hudson waterfront at Albany. The place was known as "The Kuyl", an old Dutch word meaning* "den", or "pit", but it is not known why this was applied. The earliest  record of the tavern is from 1767, when "John Ritchies at the Knil" is the label for a building here on A map of the Manor of Renselaerwyck by J. Bleeker, surveyor. In 1778, another map (Erskine-DeWitt map From Albany to Schoharie) shows the building with the label "Michael Hornbeek".  In April 1786, minutes of the City of Albany Common Council indicate that William McKown is making repairs to it and permits him to put up a barn, and to offset the repair expenses against his rent; in 1787 there is a formal lease of the property, including 43 acres, to William McKown for 21 years until 1808. The City of Albany's Journal of Receipts in the NYS Library show that William McKown faithfully paid his annual rent (£25 up to 1801, $62.50 after that) up to the end of his lease of the Five Mile House, making the last payment on July 4th 1807. It is probable that McKown subleased it when his new Hotel and tavern on the Great Western Turnpike became busy after the completion of this part of the Turnpike in about 1800. A map of 1805 in the Albany Institute of History and Art marks the Five Mile House as "Daniel Woodworth's T.", who was a brother-in-law, and McKown continued paying the rent to the City of Albany. While William McKown established himself running the Five Mile Tavern in the 1780's, his older brother James was also in the same trade, building a similar inn on the road to Kinderhook, about 5 miles east of the Hudson River next to the East Greenbush town line.
W.D. Mohr wrote that he had seen an undated map in the office of the Albany City Engineer, probably made c.1810, showing the Five Mile House annotated with the name "Lewis" and "Lease expires May 1, 1819"; that is the last known trace of this building in the old records.

The former location of this tavern, however, was known to some local residents even into the 1940's, and employees of the Albany County Club at that time agreed that the green of the 18th hole of the Club golf course was the place. The State University of New York at Albany uptown campus was built over the former grounds and golf courses of the Club, from 1961 to initial completion around 1968, but the former site of the Five Mile House appears to fall in an area that was not built over, nor grossly disturbed by the construction. This site is east of Indian Quad, just east of the campus road presently named "Indian Pond Lane"; the road that runs east from here to the University Police station approximately follows the course of the old King's Highway.

The first clubhouse of the Albany Hunt and Country Club, occupied in 1889, is recorded as being an old house, perhaps a farmhouse, which the club soon found inadequate for its purposes. The Club then purchased William Knowles farm and house in 1894, and his house, considerably expanded and modified, became the clubhouse until the Club land was purchased by the State in 1961. The location of the old first clubhouse has been difficult to establish, with conflicting opinions expressed in old documents. Some claim it was the Five Mile House, others that it was a farmhouse located elsewhere on the Club grounds.
William Efner interviewed the manager and some employees of the Club in 1940, and they thought that this old clubhouse was located next to what became the 7th hole green of the club golf course. If that is correct, then it cannot have been the Five Mile House, and those individuals also were of the opinion that the tavern had been demolished before the Club was first established.

What do the old maps of the area show? The earliest printed map showing house locations is the 1851 Sidney map, which shows the house William Knowles later sold to the Club, located west of the east branch of the Krum (Crum) Kill, belonging to W Cooper. The map shows another house north of this one, also labelled with the name of W Cooper, which might be the house the Club bought as the first clubhouse. The location shown is not where the Five Mile House ought to be placed, which would be east of the "g" of the word spring on the map, but it could be about where the old farmhouse was located, according to the 1940 reports.
The Gould 1854 map only shows the southern of these two houses, labelled belonging to W Cooper. The Beers 1866 map of the western part of Albany does not show the Krum Kill stream, and does not show the house later owned by Knowles, which we know was present. It does show one house on the Kings Highway (owner J Archy) which might be the first one the Club occupied.
There is one other piece of evidence in the written records, in that both William Efner, and W. Mohr, in their 1939-53 documents, say local people to whom they spoke said that the farmhouse was owned by a Mr Enos. The censuses from 1865 (NY) to 1880 (US) census have James Enos in the listings near those of others known to have been living in McKownville, and farming 6 acres in 1880. Unfortunately, the Beers map of 1866 did not record his name.
McKownville on Sidney map 1851
Part of the 1851 Sidney Map of the vicinity of Albany and Troy, showing the area of McKownville and surroundings.
The house that William Knowles sold to the Country Club in 1894 is shown on this map, in the right place on the west side of the Krumkill stream east branch, labelled with the name W Cooper (William Cooper). Another house to the north, also labelled W Cooper, may be the location of the farmhouse used as the first, temporary clubhouse.

The evidence, imperfect though it surely is, suggests that the Five Mile House, the first structure occupied by William McKown in Albany County, was not present when the survey was being made for the Sidney map of 1851, so that it must have been taken down or destroyed by fire before 1850, and that it is most unlikely to have been the first clubhouse of the Albany Hunt & Country Club in 1889-90.
There is a one-sentence report in a McKownville news paragraph published in the Altamont Enterprise of 26 March 1915 that the old Country Club clubhouse burned down. It seems likely that this refers to the old Enos farmhouse.
# Fred Abele, in the Altamont Enterprise, 13 March 1981, p.3 stated: "A painting is the only known illustration of what is reputed to be the tavern building which was demolished shortly before 1900". The painting referenced has not been traced, and the date of demolition is debatable (see above).
*In the same article, Abele says the location was at "the Kyl", and that it referred to the east branch of the Krum Kill stream, which rises near the tavern site. This might be plausible, as this is the only place along the King's Highway where such a stream is close by. However, the word used in most of the 18thC documents for this place (except for the "Knil" on the Bleeker map) is specifically "the Kuyl". Geoff Williams, the University at Albany archivist, indicates this is an old Dutch word for a pit, which describes quite well the steep-sided head of the channel of the stream that existed here before the University construction. Another source translates it as meaning "a den", but why this would have been attached to this place is unknown; perhaps wolves once lived here too?

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