Sunday, July 15, 2007

Historic Osgood neighborhood showcased - "A Touch of Heaven in the city of Troy"

Kudos and many thanks to our energetic and tireless neighbor, Claire Davis, the "force of nature" behind yesterday's tour of Troy's Osgood neighborhood. For those who may not know, Claire is also the force behind Troy in Bloom, which organizes an army of volunteers every Memorial Day weekend to plant flowers throughout downtown Troy, and is an active volunteer with many other causes. THANKS, CLAIRE, for all you do to make Troy a better place!

From Troy Record

By Robert Cristo; photograph by Tom Killips.

TROY - While spending a sunny Saturday afternoon enjoying a tour through South Troy, partakers were also exposed to the pride residents are taking in what is now considered an up and coming neighborhood.

Throughout the House, Garden and Church Tour organized by resident Claire Davis, participants not only got an opportunity to view architectural treasures of the Osgood Neighborhood but also witnessed a bevy of residents sprucing up their homes and gardens.

"Instead of moving back to New York City or San Francisco, I'm more interested now in living here and being part of an up-and-coming community that's working to save their beautiful architectural history rather than tearing it down," said Carin Upstill, a transplant who now calls Third Street her home.

During the tour of 16 local sites, which included Davis' renovated Roman-style home on Third Street, the Osgood Firehouse and St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church, groups were impressed to see that so many homeowners were out painting their facades, doing home repairs and tidying up around their properties.

One of those property owners, Richard Hennessey, pointed out that economic development interest in South Troy has picked up, evidenced by the sheer number of properties that have been purchased recently.

"There's no doubt in my mind that South Troy is coming back big," said Hennessey, while painting the façade of his Ida Street home. "I see a tremendous amount of development in terms of old homes getting cleaned up.

"I first noticed it about three years ago with the whole Little Italy thing. ... Sometimes it takes only one spark of enthusiasm to create a domino effect," he added.

One of those sparks many local residents point to is Davis, who they dubbed "a force of nature" with boundless energy in advocating for the re-birth of South Troy.

Since moving into her once dilapidated yellow and white trimmed home topped with a V-shaped façade and Roman style columns in 1991, she has transformed it back to its original luster, both inside and out.

"When I bought it, everything had to be redone from the basement up - the foundation and to the roof - but I saw the potential," said Davis. "It had the right look and feel - good bones - but it needed a little tender loving care."

Davis said she organized the tour to showcase the potential of the neighborhood in hopes that more people will continue to invest in a community she considers a jewel. Those who took the tour said they couldn't agree more with Davis' assessment.

"The tour gave me the opportunity to go inside these grand homes I've only got the chance to see from the outside when I walk around the neighborhood," said Upstill, who once lived near Central Park in Manhattan.

"This is were I want to live now. ... It's one of the few areas in the capital region I love just strolling around in, looking at the historic architecture and seeing people hanging out on their stoops. ... Being from New York City that's something I missed," she added.

In addition to Davis's restored 19th Century home, the tour featured many unique features of the neighborhood. "Everyone knows about things like beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows at St. Joseph's Church, but they often don't know about the artifacts and paintings at the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church," said Davis. "That and so many other things make this area a touch of heaven in the city of Troy."

"To me it has a history that just speaks to says take care of me and make me beautiful for the next generation and beyond to appreciate,' said Davis.

Besides her own home, Davis hoped people who went on the tour also took time to appreciate the homes, gardens, churches, restaurants and fire-houses that make up what is known as the Osgood Neighborhood.