The Doane Stuart fire and a loss of a personal connection.

Last night came the horrifying news. The campus of the old Doane Stuart parochial school burned to the ground. Absolutely devastating news. Although the school itself moved out of that location a decade ago, there were hopes that the facility could be rehabbed into new housing or new living accommodations. Those hopes are now sadly dashed.

The building’s history spans nearly 200 years. The Friends of Albany blog has an excellent history of the building’s many lives – as a private residence, as a convent, and later as a parochial school. Here’s the link.

That being said … I want to mention a personal connection involving Doane Stuart.

No, I never attended the school. But the school was part of my existence.

I shall explain.

Prior to Doane Stuart, the facility was a convent for the nuns of the Kenwood Academy of the Sacred Heart. They, along with community activists in Albany’s South End and Arbor Hill neighborhoods, put together a learning opportunity for those students who were left out and marginalized by the Albany City School District. The plan was to bring young men and women to various businesses and institutions and let them learn hands-on and achieve that learning experience. Thus, in 1970, began what was called the Street Academy of Albany.

Eventually the school became part of the Albany City School District, and it operated under their aegis from 1974 to 2010, its last 20 years under the name of Harriet Gibbons High School. And when Street Academy held their graduation ceremonies, for many years those ceremonies were held on the Doane Stuart campus. It was a partnership of faith and of encouragement.

By the time this blog post is written, I surmise that the wrecking cranes and bulldozers will be crawling up Mt. Hope Drive for their first whacks at the building structures. And a part of Albany’s history and architecture and soul will be laid to rubble.

Damn it.

Honestly, this sucks. There were so many opportunities to do something with that campus. It was beautiful and ornate and a treasure. And now it’s lost to photographs and fading memories and cinders.

Yeah … today’s not really a good day. Sorry, folks.