Schuyler Mansion is the popular, modern-day name for the large brick ediface built just inside Albany's southern boundary line in 1761. Situated on a large and commanding stretch of land that reached almost all the way down to the river, this Albany landmark was the home of General Philip Schuyler.
By 1760, Philip Schuyler had begun to acquire title to what became a large tract of south Albany land. After some negotiation and litigation, his title was confirmed in 1765. Called "the Pastures," his property ran south of the Beaverkill to the southern city line. It ran west from the "road" that later became South Pearl Street and was bounded on the west by today's Delaware Avenue. When the property was gridded for sale after his death in 1804, it included the mansion parcel and more than a hundred individual building lots that were divided among his children.
On a prime location in the center of this extensive property, Schuyler built his elegant home. Actually, most of the work was done and completed while Schuyler was in England under the direction of his friend and mentor, John Bradstreet.
The De Witt maps locate the building on the Albany landscape of the 1790s. With Yates Mansion located on the northern side of the Beaverkill, it dominated the emerging South End - the first destination for many Albany newcomers.
Schuyler Mansion was the most outstanding house built in Albany before the American Revolution. The home of early Albany's wealthiest and most cosmopolitan resident, it set new standards for opulence and sophistication. The built environment of early Albany is considered more broadly in a theme essay entitled "Homes for the People."
Following Schuyler's death in 1804, the property was sold to newcomer furrier John Bryan.
Two websites provided access to this early Albany landmark today!
The definitive source on this impressive landmark is Schuyler Mansion: A Historic Structures Report, prepared by The Division for Historic Preservation, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (Albany, 1977). This marvelous work anticipates most questions about the site and its occupants. It is the basic source for this exposition.
Watercolor drawing of Schuyler Mansion made by Philip Hooker in 1818. Print copy held at the New-York Historical Society.
In 1849, an edition of the Western Literary Mazazine presented this descriptive update: A Fine Old Mansion.— "One of the oldest mansion houses in this city, is the Schuyler house, on the corner of Clinton and Schuyler streets, owned and occupied by Mr. Mcintosh. This house is in the English style of the last century, and resembles in its architecture Governor Shirley's old mansion, at Roxbury, the Vassal house at Cambridge, occupied by Gen. Washington in 1770 [sic], and now the resident of the poet, Longfellow, and other old mansions in the vicinity of Boston. The Schuyler mansion was erected by Gen. Bradstreet in the year 1756, when the British army was encamped on the plains below this city. There being a number of artificers of every description in the army, the General employed them in the erection of this house, which was built of bricks and made on the spot. General Philip Schuyler exchanged an estate at Stillwater for this property, and resided there for many years. It was in this house that he entertained Gen. Burgoyne and the other general officer* of the British army captured at Saratoga; as well as Lafayette, the Marquis de Chastellux and other officers of the French army in America, during the American Revolution; Gen. Washington, Lord Stirling and other distinguished men of that day; and during the French Revolution, Talleyrand, Chateaubriand, Louis Philippe, Duke of Orleans, ex-King of the French, and his brothers. Here also the illustrious Hamilton wooed and won the daughter of its hospitable proprietor, that venerable and excellent woman, who still lives in the full enjoyment of her intellectual faculties, almost the sole remnant of the revolutionary age. Another daughter of General Schuyler, a lady of great beauty and accomplishment, was also married from this house to John B. Church of London, who came out to this country during the revolution, under the assumed name of John Carter. He was the son of a rich army contractor in London, and after coming in possession of his estate, lived in great style in that city. Mr. Church afterwards removed to NewYork, and Gen. Hamilton was buried from his house in Robinson-st, now Park Place. His son, Philip Schuyler Church, resided at Angelica, so named from his mother, in Allegany county. In looking over the papers of the late Col. Webb, of the Revolutionary army, a few years since, we found an interesting letter from Mr. Church, signed with his assumed name, John Carter. The Schuyler house became the property of John Bryan, Esq., of this city, in 1815. Mr. B. expended a large sum in repairs and alterations, and the present proprietor has recently improved and beautified it, thus rendering it one of the finest houses in the city. — Alb. Express."
Websites: These resources are the official web page for Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site and the more dynamic (and educational) site maintained by the Friends of Schuyler Mansion.
first posted 5/01; last revised 3/11/13