JUST SPENT TWO DAYS in Albany, N.Y., underrated capital of the Empire State, enjoying its fanciful row house architecture and the unexpected beauty of Washington Park. I was there to visit my cousin Susan, who’s just moved there for a job. Her new apartment is huge and sunny, in a pre-war building right on that park. We spent a good part of our time together painting an Art Deco bar/bookcase whose brownness was depressing. Now it’s an infinitely more pleasing robin’s egg blue (the bottom photo shows it before its final coat and new gray trim).

The late 19th century Washington Park, an 81-acre landscape in the romantic style of Frederick Law Olmsted, is considered one of the finest urban parks in the country. It’s meticulously maintained, with Victorian-style bedding plants in abundance, and an extraordinary Mediterranean Revival lake house. The footbridge over the 5-acre lake, below, dates from 1875.

The 1929 brick and terracotta lake house faces the lake on one side and a 900-seat outdoor amphitheater on the other.

It replaced the original stick-style structure below.

Of the numerous statues in the park, the 1893 bronze figure of Moses on Mt. Horeb, below, is the most surprising, at least to me.

And the display of annual flowers, below, is the most extravagant I’ve seen in a public place outside of Paris or London.

There’s enormous variety in the cornices, lintels, and other woodwork on Albany’s row houses. I barely scratched the surface in my documentation. These are on Lark Street, a row of cafes, restaurants, and shops, in the Washington Park Historic District.

We managed to spend a little time hitting up antique stores. There aren’t many (most area dealers have removed themselves to Hudson, N.Y.), but they seem to have potential.

A lot remains for future visits: more antiquing, historic house museums, whole other neighborhoods (not to mention nearby Troy, a whole other city).

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