Monday, July 11, 2011

Zephyr Park (George and Elizabeth St.)

The November 1909 Rensselaer Eagle newspaper announced that the “Van Allen Park” plot had been filed, and new houses could go up in the spring on the “old Lape property”. Elizabeth V. A. Lape created this small development after her father, Stephen V.R. Van Alen, passed away in 1905. (More on the Van Alen's next time.)

Elizabeth’s map was actually titled “Fulton Park”, and the streets were Van Alen Ave., Lape Ave., Clermont Ave., and Fulton Ave. The last two names likely commemorated Robert Fulton’s steamboat Clermont, a replica of which had just come up the river for the grand 1909 Hudson-Fulton centennial celebration.

I found this map quite charming (click it to zoom in), because of the extra attention paid to the calligraphy.

In 1923, George J. Zepf seemed to be the owner of the property - he filed a new map for the “Lape Subdivision”. Deeds for the plots show that George and Delia Zepf were selling plots in a development they now called “Zephyr Park”. On George Zepf’s map, the street parallel to Forbes Ave. was eliminated, and the three cross-streets had been renamed Carolyn Ave., George St., and Elizabeth St. (George had sisters named Carrie and Lizzie - perhaps he and his siblings were the namesakes, or perhaps Elizabeth was named after Mrs. Lape.)

Only George and Elizabeth Streets are on the map today, and Carolyn Ave. likely became Delaware Ave. when the larger Van Allen Park was developed.

George Zepf was in the carpentry business with his brother Joseph, and they worked on many significant projects in Rensselaer, including building several of the firehouses.

If you have a picture of Elizabeth Lape or George Zepf, I would appreciate a copy via email (

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