Old Elm Tree Corner

The Evolution of Old Elm Tree Corner

Learn how a simple tree stood for something greater.

State and Pearl Street intersection was one of Albany’s main crossroads during the 18th century. This intersection known as The Old Elm Tree corner represented a well-known historical landmark. As a matter of fact Philip Livingston, signer of the Declaration of Independence planted the Elm Tree in 1735 in front of his home. By 1756 the Livingston family stilled owned the property but the building became the British army’s headquarters. [1]
In the 1780’s a new corner emerged northwest of Old Elm Tree known as “Webster Corner.” A yellow framed building on the corner was the home to a printer and newspaper office owned by Charles R. and George Webster. However, when George Webster took ill in 1821 it took a toll on the Webster brothers’ business and they closed. In hopes of regaining his establishment George Webster’s surviving brother Charles partnered with E.W Skinner & CO. firm and together they opened as new publishing business. Unfortunately by 1834 Webster and Skinner went out of business due to the declining health of Mr. Charles Webster. [4]
Despite the emerging of Webster corner, the Old Elm Tree still held on to its reputation of being the home to many establishments. Prior to the American Revolution the corner changed from being an army’s headquarter to a bookstore. Stuart Wilson decided to open a bookstore named Blue Belle Taven. After Wilson’s ownership Job Stafford took over. In 1857 the abandoned property came into the hands of John Tweddle and he renovated the building into the Tweddle Hall. The hall opened in 1860 as a four-story stone building with multiple usage. For instance, the hall held musical performances, rallies, political meetings and even Charles Dicken, the writer of the famous novels Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities spoke there. For over twenty years the hall became the source of entertainment for many Albany residents. [2]
However in 1883 a fire erupted in the hall ultimately destroying the building and many stores inside, but with great effort from the city the Tweddle Hall was rebuilt in 1897. Unfourtunately, in 1915 when the Ten Eyck hotel’s administration decided to expand their hotel they chose Old Elm Tree Corner as the home for their 15-story skyscraper. As a result Tweddle Hall was demolished to create more space for the hotel. [2]
The Elm Tree that represented the corner eventually got cut down on June 15, 1877. However, today the corner is the home to a bank, and a plaque dedicated on the bank to Philip Livingston the one responsible for creating the symbol of Old Elm Tree Corner.

Cite this Page:

S.Porter, “Old Elm Tree Corner,” Albany Walks for Health, accessed October 18, 2019, http://www.albanywalksforhealth.com/items/show/86.
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