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The Albany Institute of History & Art has collected art and historical materials from the Upper Hudson Valley for more than 200 years.
The well–dressed young man in this portrait, Stephen Van Rensselaer II, had just turned twenty-one years old a few months before his likeness was finished in October 1763.
This portrait by New York artist Thomas McIlworth accompanies manuscript collections, furniture, household items, and paintings in the Institute’s collections that document the historically important Van Rensselaer family. In 1765, at the age of twenty-three, Stephen Van Rensselaer II began constructing a grand house north of Albany on Patroon Creek, near present-day Manor Street and Broadway. Taken about 100 years after its initial construction, this photograph shows the Van Rensselaer manor house set within a wooded garden. Rich wood carvings surrounded doorways in the entrance hall of the Van Rensselaer manor house, while neoclassical pillars and molding provided an air of distinction and elegance. Following the premature death of Stephen Van Rensselaer II, the manor house passed to his son, Stephen III, who inherited it and the family landholdings upon coming of age in 1785. In 1986, the Albany Institute acquired this portrait of Stephen Van Rensselaer III painted by Gilbert Stuart, the preeminent portraitist of the early American Republic. After years of public debate, legislation, and land surveys, the Erie Canal that Stephen Van Rensselaer III supported was approved. Painted during his first term as New York state governor, this three-quarter-length portrait of DeWitt Clinton accompanies several other portraits of New York governors placed on permanent deposit with the Albany Institute.
This original drawing of the Erie Canal at Albany, like many objects in the Institute’s collection, came directly from an early member, in this case the natural scientist James Eights. Stephen Van Rensselaer III lived at the manor house throughout his life, enjoying the gardens and probably watching the traffic flow along the Erie Canal.
The Albany Institute holds more than 500 items created by or associated with Thomas Cole, including paintings, drawings, sketchbooks, correspondence, and personal possessions. As Stephen III’s eldest son from his first wife Margarita (Schuyler) Van Rensselaer, Stephen IV inherited the manor house and grounds upon his father’s death in 1839. Acquired while traveling through France in 1812 and 1813, this elegant French clock was one of Stephen Van Rensselaer IV’s possessions that he took to the manor house in 1840, when he and his wife Harriet moved in. The Albany Institute owns one of the finest and most elaborate neoclassical–styled beds produced in early America.
Lannuier designed and constructed the bed in a distinctively French style that reflects his training in France and the influence of Napoleon’s personal architects and decorators Charles Percier and Pierre Francois Leonard Fontaine.
This detailed map of Albany’s north end shows a landscape in transition from a sparsely settled, semi–rural location to a busy commercial district. Among the more than 100 photograph albums in the Institute’s collection, a rare volume containing dozens of photographs of Albany’s lumber district reveals the enormous extent of the commercial activity that characterized Albany’s north end in the 1870s.
Artist David Coughtry has captured both the serenity and the power of nature that visitors now find in New York’s Adirondack Park. The Albany Institute purchased Coughtry’s large landscape painting as its purchase prize during the 1984 Exhibition of Artists of the Mohawk–Hudson Region, a juried regional art exhibition founded by the Albany Institute in 1936 and still held annually.
With commercial and industrial development surrounding the Van Rensselaer house and gardens, the family eventually moved out sometime after Harriet’s death in 1875.


Two centuries of strategic collecting have allowed the Albany Institute to assemble historical objects, paintings, photographs, and furnishings that make connections and tell the story of Stephen Van Rensselaer II’s grand manor house.
Ok people, I have been in the boating business for a while now and some things still amaze me. Yesterday I got a call from my neighbor, he owns a Mastercraft X-something and in a panic on the other end of the phone I hear, “Man!
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In some cases the shrink wrap comes apart during transport and causes more damage than good. Imagine leaving your 9-5 and enjoying a life out on the water, while working on your own terms? The richness of the collections and the careful documentation of ownership allow works of ­art, historical objects, photographs, and manuscript collections to tell insightful and intriguing stories about the people and events of the region. Built in an updated Palladian style known as Georgian, the symmetrically balanced house made a striking and elegant statement.
Despite the promise of a comfortable life in sumptuous surroundings, Stephen II died in 1769 at age twenty-seven, having enjoyed his new house for only a few years. Stuart painted many of the prominent families and political leaders, including President George Washington, who guided the United States through its early years as a new nation.
Governor DeWitt Clinton, a staunch supporter and canal commissioner, presided over festivities in New York City during the month of October. Eights’s ink drawing shows the eastern terminus of the canal where it ran parallel with the Hudson River. When Stephen died in 1839, his son William Paterson Van Rensselaer commissioned the Hudson River school artist Thomas Cole to paint views of the house and gardens as mementos for his mother, Cornelia Paterson Van Rensselaer, and sister, who planned to move from the house. His paintings of the Van Rensselaer manor house and gardens are the two earliest accessions of Cole’s work at the Institute, a bequest in 1930 from Stephen III’s granddaughter, Katherine E. The following year, 1840, he and his wife Harriet began transferring personal belongings and furniture from their North Market Street house, depicted in James Eights’ drawing of the canal (slide 9), to the manor house.
Its surface—richly ornamented with gilt metal olive branches, military cartouches, and a figure of the Roman goddess Minerva—complemented the couple’s neoclassical furnishings, although the neoclassical style was becoming outmoded by the 1840s. 1817Mahogany, burl elm veneer, ash with gilt and vert antique decoration, eastern white pine, soft maple and hard maple, cherry, rosewood veneers, cut brass inlays, and ormolu mountsGift of Constance Van Rensselaer Thayer (Mrs.
Crafted by French immigrant cabinetmaker Charles–Honore Lannuier at his New York City shop, the bed may have been commissioned by William Bayard, Sr., as a wedding gift for his daughter Harriet and her husband Stephen Van Rensselaer IV, who married in January 1817, or it may have been ordered directly by Stephen.
Unlike the English custom that positioned the headboard against the wall, French beds were placed parallel to the wall, exposing one side and hiding the other. Set in the heart of that landscape was the Van Rensselaer manor house and gardens, which appear in the middle of the map. In the nineteenth century, however, the Adirondack region was a battleground for the early environmental movement.
From its original construction in 1765 to its ultimate disappearance from Albany in 1893, the story of the house reveals the history of the Van Rensselaer family, the commercial growth of Albany’s north end, and the creation of New York’s famous Erie Canal. The Us coast Guard has put together a basic outline of the minimum requirements to follow for a safe boating experience. With so many new innovations in recent years, these boats and the tools they supply make fishing much more rewarding and uncomplicated. At Monahana€™s Marine we are certified dealers of ShoreStation, one of the most sought-after names in the marine dock and lift industry. Monahana€™s Marine, paired with ShoreStation, offers superior systems to create your ideal waterfront environment.


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Stephen’s striking indigo blue suit accented with silver thread on the buttons and buttonholes denotes a young man of wealth, someone of prominence in the community. Stephen’s ancestors had built at least two earlier houses on the site, but Stephen’s new manor house reflected his family’s increasing wealth and social status in the mid–eighteenth century. The Albany Institute’s library contains several photographs that document the house’s exterior and interior rooms as they existed in the 1860s or early 1870s. Known as a capriccio, such scenes referenced classical art and architecture and alluded to the Van Rensselaer family’s educated and refined tastes.
He actively participated in State government and also advocated for greater suffrage and for internal improvements, especially for a canal across New York state. As part of the ceremonies, Clinton dumped a barrel of water from Lake Erie into New York harbor, symbolically uniting the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean, which the Erie Canal had accomplished.
Here the canal cut directly through Stephen Van Rensselaer III’s property, separating the manor house and gardens from the Hudson River. Cole rarely painted strict topographical views, but he felt a commission from the Van Rensselaer family too important to decline. Many of the couple’s personal possessions have come to the Institute within the last one hundred years, as donations from direct descendents. The exposed side of this bed displays finely executed gilt metal ornaments and highly patterned burl elm veneer that instantly signify luxury and refinement. The Erie Canal, which runs directly through the area, brought about much of the change as its waterway provided a ready means for hauling and transporting goods like sawn lumber. Jagger, whose canal barge appears in this photograph, stockpiled large quantities of sawn boards along branches of the Erie Canal. Many of the logs that supplied Albany’s burgeoning lumber market came from the Adirondacks, floated down the Hudson River to Glens Falls, where the logs were sawn and transported to Albany. ShoreStation is committed to continuous improvement and their products are backed by the strongest warranty in the industry.
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Here are some ways in which you can narrow the field to find the perfect water craft at an affordable price. Indeed, Stephen was heir to the accumulated wealth and vast land holdings of the Van Rensselaer family, holdings that consisted of 700,000 acres of land around Albany, New York. The canal opened trade between the rich farmlands of the west and the growing commercial port of New York City.
The area around the manor house, in fact, became known as the Albany lumber district because many dealers and wholesalers of lumber settled in the area.
Reynolds dismantled the house and incorporated much of the building into his design for a fraternity house at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. We carry an additional $200,000 insurance policy to protect you from any unforeseen events.
The hand-drawn map dated 1817 shows the proposed route of the canal and the multitude of locks needed to overcome differences in elevation.
On the left side stands the Philip Hooker-designed townhouse built for Stephen Van Rensselaer IV in 1818. Other maps in the Institute’s collection show the city at both earlier and later periods, allowing researchers and visitors to see how the north end grew and changed, street by street. Brinckerhoff who drew and colored the map most likely copied an engraved map that accompanied the official reports of the Canal Commission.



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