Nicholas Lane house, photo taken in summer of 2015, the year before
it was demolished by the University at Albany.
[picture taken and contributed by Don Reeb]
This house was built on lot 6 of the lands inherited by the heirs of
Christian LaGrange. The 1881 map
of those lots shows that lot 6 and the adjacent lot 7 were
sold prior to 1881 by the heir John B. LaGrange to Dr. James F.
McKown, who died in 1892. Kate A. McKown, his widow, sold this lot
in 1903 to Thomas H. Bloomingdale. The Town of Guilderland listed
this house in its property tax records as built in 1890. If that
date is correct, then it was built by James and Kate McKown.
However, they are not listed in the 1892 NY census in the pages
covering McKownville, nor is Kate McKown listed in the 1900 US
census in the pages for McKownville. Therefore, it seems possible
that Thomas Bloomingdale built this house in 1903 or soon after; the
US census records of 1910 and 1920, and the 1915 NY census do list
him and his large family in McKownville.
Thomas Bloomingdale sold this plot and house in September 1921 to
Benjamin F. Witbeck, who with his wife Caroline then sold it to
Charles and Isabel Tracey in December 1923. These two people lived
here for the rest of their lives, the house being listed as "20
Norwood St" in the Albany City
Directory up to 1953.
Isabel Tracey died in 1966; her will bequeathed the property to
Judge John Holt-Harris. It was apparently not occupied for the last
few years of its existence. The University at Albany purchased the
property of Holt-Harris in December 2015; in 2016 they demolished
this house and the other old Holt-Harris residence on the adjacent
lot 7 to the east. [A detailed
ownership history of this and the adjacent lot 7 property from
To date, the mature pine woods of these two lots remain as a natural
reserve and an insulating visual and aural screen from the intrusive
noise of the University sports and athletic area, and protection
from the winds crossing the open campus, for the quiet residential
streets of McKownville adjacent.
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