ORNAMENTAL IRON AND TIFFANY GLASS
Three architectural elements are particularly worth watching for as you explore Troy’s downtown infrastructure. First is its pervasive and much-celebrated ornamental ironwork, such as Michael Mahoney’s distinctive flame bulb finials at 33 Second Street, the iron pineapples nearby, or the absolutely stunning grand staircase on the upper floors of the Frear Building at Third, Fulton, and River Streets, one of the most breathtaking examples of ornamental ironwork to be found anywhere. Second are the cast-iron storefronts here and there, such as at 11 and 13 Second Street or on portions of the front of the Arts Center of the Capital Region at 265 River Street. (Bring a magnet with you so you can test the facades for the presence of cast iron.) Third, and most striking, is the abundance of windows and other appointments by Tiffany in downtown Troy, most notably at St. John’s Episcopal Church at First and Liberty, at the Troy Public Library at 100 Second Street, and at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at Third and State, which has a whole interior designed by Tiffany. Somewhat farther afield, but not to be missed, are St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church at Third and Jackson, and the Gardner Earl Chapel at Oakwood Cemetery, a mile north of Hoosick Street along Oakwood Avenue (Route 40).
This summary only scratches the surface of the architectural riches that are Troy, omitting, for example, all of its industrial and educational architecture. Some of that, like the unique Gasholder House at Fifth and Jefferson south of downtown, is also world famous. And sadly, roughly five hundred of the historic buildings in downtown Troy were bulldozed during the misguided days of “urban renewal” in the 1960s and 1970s, leaving a gaping swath from the Green Island Bridge up the hill to Eighth Street. Nonetheless, this provides a start upon your discovery of the architectural splendor that is Troy. To find out more, go to Troy’s RiverSpark Visitor Center at 251 River Street and ask for the downtown walking tour brochure, the ornamental ironwork book, and the industrial archeology book. And be sure to look up regularly to see the huge variety of cornices along the rooflines of downtown Troy.
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Iron and glass