detail from De Witt map - 1790detail from Honeywood's painting


The coming of peace in 1783 signaled a rise in building construction to accommodate a booming population and also the enhanced ambitions of the victorious revolutionaries. Second only to its neighbor, Schuyler Mansion, this elegant home was located south of the core city and was built by attorney Peter W. Yates. It sat on a hill north of the Beaverkill. On the south side of the Beaverkill ravine was larger city estate of General Philip Schuyler. The precise construction date for Yates Mansion is not known but it still was unfinished in 1784 when it was referenced by a young visitor. During the 1790s, Yates's family of ten lived in a large home surrounded by orchards and outbuildings. A decade later, his household had had shrunk to three adult members and was served by four slaves.

Yates inherited the property in 1776. He paid taxes on it as early as 1779 when it was shown (as a lot only) on a city assessment roll for the first ward. At that time, his residence was located closer to the city core.

"Yates Mansion" was the subject of a painting by St. John Honeywood done about 1795. It also is pictured prominently on the city maps made by Simeon De Witt during the same decade. It also was featured in an architectural drawing. PAGE IN PROGRESS

In 1788, his new holdings were valued substantially on the first ward assessment roll. In 1799, the real estate of Peter W. Yates was assessed at $20,790 - making it second only to neighboring Schuyler Mansion in value.

Yates is said to have sold it to newcomer businessman James Kane in 1809. Kane either rebuilt or enhanced the landmark property.Seward Mansion Albany

The property at the corner of Westerlo and Broad Streets later was the residence of Governors Tompkins, De Witt Clinton and Seward. In 1838, Governor William H. Seward described his new Albany home in delightful detail.

Moving to Albany in 1846, a later resident became the "first bishop of Washington".

In June 1856, "the old Yates Mansion on Broad Street" was purchased by Thomas W. Olcott for $16,000 for the use of the principal of the Female Academy.

Yates Mansion was one of the landmark homes of early Albany. The built environment of early Albany is considered more broadly in a theme essay entitled "Homes for the People."


Sources on Yates/Kane/Seward Mansion: Article by Paul R. Huey in Albany Architecture, beginning on page 55.

Detail from often encountered overview maps of Albany showing city boundaries and street plans made by State Surveyor General Simeon De Witt during the 1790s. Engraved prints exist in a variety of forms and widely accessible.
        I call this iconography "Development Maps" as the laying out of all subsequent streets represented a blueprint for the expansion of the city. City maps from the nineteenth century become increasingly more detailed.

Detail from a larger watercolor on paper painting entitled The Home of the Hon. Peter Waldron Yates, Albany, NY by St. John Honeywood - a law student in Yates's office. It is dated about 1795 and in the collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art. It also was reproduced in Journals of Lt. John Enys. Article on the property.

Home | Email | Site Index | Navigation | New York State Museum

silently posted 2003; updated 5/20/16; last revised 10/18/16