Friday, September 9, 2011

Van Allen Park

Just west of Defreestville, the "rock cut" allows the road to pass through the rocky ridge that once bisected the 400 acre farm of John Evert Van Alen. Van Alen owned a general store in Greenbush, and was a U.S. Congressman from 1793 to 1799. He was also a surveyor who did work for the Patroon, and he surveyed part of the Eastern Turnpike.

John E. Van Alen had no children, and his nephew Evert Van Alen was heir to his estate. Evert was also a surveyor and civil engineer, and helped build the Erie Canal. Evert’s will split the farm between sons John and Stephen.

Stephen V. R. Van Alen inherited the western 90 acres, between the ridge and the farm of William P. Van Rensselaer. Stephen built the beautiful “Rock Hill” house west of the ridge.

In 1907, Stephen’s daughter Elizabeth V.A. Lape acquired the land from her sister Catherine, who had cared for their elderly father. In 1926, Elizabeth sold the land for this neighborhood to Bruce Corlis of Corliss Realty, Inc., St. Alban’s, VT.

Corliss filed a map in 1926, and the street names he used for Van Allen Park were: Delaware, Maryland, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Missouri, Florida, California, and Minnesota Avenues. Apart from the lots closest to Washington Ave, most of this neighborhood is actually in North Greenbush. Corliss created decades of address confusion when he duplicated many of the same street names in his 1925 Sherwood Park development, located off Columbia Turnpike in East Greenbush.

For more about the Van Alen family, read "Background and Social History of the site and Occupants of the John Evert and Anne Fryenmoet van Alen House", by Walter Richard Wheeler, Hartgen Archeological Associates, Inc.

This is part of the series: North End Park Neighborhoods (download this as a free PDF here)

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