Wellington Hotel

Early twentieth-century postcard showing Hotel Wellington at center 
and New York State Capitol at upper right.

    Just a few hundred feet from the massive granite walls of the New York State Capitol stands an entire block of abandoned buildings clustered around the Wellington Hotel. Built in 1905, Claude Holder expanded the Wellington  to over 400 rooms when he acquired it hotel in 1911. The building changed hands in 1959 and stayed open for over 25 years - one of its last tenants was New York State Governor Mario Cuomo (he set up residence there while Lieutenant Governor).

    While other hotels such as the Ambassador, the DeWitt Clinton and the Ten Eyck Hotel may have been the exclusive domains of the capital's elite and its political insiders, the Wellington has outlasted many of them while symbolizing the plight of over 800 abandoned buildings throughout the city. Its current owner, British corporation Sebba Rockaway Ltd., wants the block razed so it can build a convention center; preservationists have thus far fought the good fight for the Wellington's survival. To its credit, city government denied approval of Sebba Rockaway's plan for the demolition of the Wellington Hotel and the adjacent buildings. But in abandonment the Wellington has suffered - the cornice began peeling off in the summer of 2004 and had to be removed entirely. And later a man stood on the roof threatening to commit suicide by leaping to the street below while cameras rolled. It is hoped instead that the restoration of the Wellington Hotel will be the jumping off point for the revitalization of a part of the city sorely in need of new life.

MAY 12, 2006. "Reagan '84" bumper sticker on utility pole at right.

    Interestingly, after a large chunk of the city was demolished during the Urban Renewal era of the 1960s to make way for the Empire State Plaza, a local newspaper reporter suggested that a "demonstration slum" be built on the site of the vacated buildings - otherwise "little children will grow up never knowing what it was like to live  in the days before we abolished poverty." One can only wonder if this was an ill-attempt at humor, or if the reporter was dead serious in his ignorance. Poverty continues to plague our society, and many more abandoned buildings stand in this city today than there were before the bulldozers of Urban Renewal came along.

Ghost of a what was likely an eighteenth-century building visible in the photo at left. This old structure was torn down to make way for...an empty lot. The Wellington sign survives nicely, as shown in the photo at right. The red brick building is a rare surviving 1830s townhouse and significant in its own right.


LEFT: Albany Elks Lodge No. 49.      RIGHT: The Berkshire Hotel.

APRIL 29, 2003. Side of the Wellington Hotel as seen from Howard Street.

Howard Street, showing the rear of the Elks Lodge and the rear of the Wellington Hotel. 

47 Howard Street, the carriage house behind the Berkshire Hotel.

UPDATE - MARCH 26, 2009:

Demolition began this week at the Wellington Hotel and its adjacent neighbors on State Street in Albany. Columbia Development Companies is rebuilding the block of State Street that contains five distinct structures, all which will essentially be demolished, and have stood abandoned for decades within sight of the New York State Capitol. However, it is reported that the facades of 132-134, 138 and 140 State Street (including the Berkshire Hotel and the Elks Lodge) will be stabilized and preserved. The facade of the Hotel Wellington, at 136 State Street, will be dismantled, and parts of it may grace the front of a 14-story office building planned to rise behind the old facades. 

Source Article: "Ex-hotel yields to future vision." By Jordan Carleo-Evangelist, The Times Union. March 25, 2009.

Information on this page obtained in part  from the Historic Albany Foundation.
New York State Preservation League - Seven to Save 2000.
Various New York Times articles provided information as well.

Yaz’ Hudson Valley Ruins and Abandoned Buildings, etc.

Yaz’ Hudson Valley Ruins and Abandoned Buildings, etc.

E-mail Rob Yasinsac

This page copyright © 2006 by Robert J. Yasinsac. All rights reserved. 
Reproducing or copying these  photographs without the permission of Robert Yasinsac is prohibited.