Home for the holidays

The Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany gets dressed in its holiday best for a full slate of events.

The Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany gets dressed in its holiday best for a full slate of events. Submitted photo

— Holiday traditions may have been a little different in the late 1700s when the iconic Ten Broeck Mansion was built atop an Albany hill, but more than 200 years later, the historic home continues to welcome visitors for the holidays.

Tucked away in the middle of the Arbor Hill neighborhood sits a mansion filled with stories of long ago. The home, which was named “Prospect,” was built in 1798 for General Abraham Ten Broeck, a Revolutionary War hero, his wife, Elizabeth Van Rensselaer, a Dutch patroon descendant, and their five children.

“At the time, it was all countryside with a view of the Hudson River,” said Wendy Burch, Ten Broeck Mansion executive director.

The Ten Broeck family called Prospect home until Abraham Ten Broeck’s death in 1810 followed by Elizabeth’s death three years later.

Over the next 30 years, the character of the house and surrounding area began to change. Thomas Olcott, a prominent banker and philanthropist, purchased the mansion in 1848 and renamed it “Arbour Hill.” The neighborhood began to grow as the Erie Canal developed through town, and many of the workers made the area around the mansion their home.

“There was an influx of all different people. Immigrants were working on the canal, artisans and servants working in the mansion all lived close,” Burch said. “On Ten Broeck Street, on the eastern border of the property, there were very grand houses known as ‘Millionaires Row.’ They are still here, although most of them are broken up into apartments now.”

Burch said the Olcott family and descendants owned the house for 100 years, however the lives of the two families live on through stories told within the mansion thanks to the historical association.

“It’s a hidden gem in the midst of Arbor Hill,” Burch said. “The Albany County Historical Association has had the mansion since the 40s. We operate it as a historic museum and cultural education center.”

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