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Rice Building


Rice Building 1871

In The Works

Rice Building: In the 1980's, Rice Building had been vacant for over a decade. Broken masonry was detaching from the structure and falling to the street. In 1998 the Rice Building was so deteriorated that the City was on the verge of demolishing it. The wisdom to save the building resulted in a major restoration project. The interior was reconfigured to accommodate contemporary office needs while preserving some of its historical character. The exterior was restored to its five-story 1916 post fire appearance. The restoration was certified by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation and received a New York State Historic Preservation Award in 2000.

Originally built as a six-story office building in 1871, The Rice Building was damaged in a serious fire in 1916. The 6th floor and three spires were completed destroyed.

Tai Ventures has aspirations to restore the three spires and the 6th floor. We have retained the services of Joseph Michael Kelly, a preservation architect, to restore the Rice Building to its original form. Mr. Kelly has started the research phase of this undertaking.

Rice Building was in the 1993 film, "Age of Innocence" directed by Martin Scorsese and produced by Columbia Pictures. Stars include Daniel Day Lewis, Michelle Pfeifer, and Winona Ryder.

Knox & Mead Building

Troy Treasures: Brownstone renovation — A work in progress at No. 13 First Street

The quarry which supplied all, or most, of the iconic soft brown sandstone is empty. Let me be more specific: The quarry located in Portland, Conn., which furnished the stone facing known as "Brownstone" to drive the Northeast’s housing craze of the 19th century, is closed.

An article, "Bidding Farewell to a City’s Precious Stone," published in the New York Times Oct. 23, 2012, stated, "…by the end of this month the quarry’s final scraps of inventory should be gone." In other words, there is no more of this indigenous material available, with the possible exception of some hoarded inventory bought up by contractors who saw the end coming.

The message couldn’t be more clear: The species "Brownstone" has moved beyond "endangered" to "on the path to extinction."

And Troy, N.Y., amongst its storied diverse architecture, has many prominent Brownstones. No. 13 First St. is one example as it stands there between two taller facades, making its own statement of relative importance.

Built in 1852, in the arguably Italianate style, its purpose was to serve as the new headquarters of the Manufacturers Bank of Troy.

The archives of the Rensselaer County Historical Society have produced a 1989 Historic Building report that gives us a lot of information on this structure: "On May 1st 1856 the bank (Manufacturers) removed to the corner of River and King Streets and Central Bank of Troy moved to #13 First St. In 1867 it became the Central National Bank of Troy and remained there through 1904. By 1906 Knox and Mead Insurance Co. moved from #14 State St to #13 First St. They still conduct business there (In 1986) under Love, Knox & Mead Ins. Co."

To serve the needs of No. 13’s various banking and insurance occupants over the years, the report continues, "A massive and spacious vault made of chrome five-ply steel and iron, with fireproof filling, was built in the banking room, in January, 1890, by Herring & Co. of New York City." The vault is still present in 2014 as a major historical component of the building.

Within the reach of a hefty Frisbee-throw in any direction from No. 13, in the days of the Central National Bank, one could count five or six other banks making up a bustling financial quarter servicing the expansion and growing pains of a thriving 19th century city. No. 13 First St. has served several owners since that RCHS Historic Building Report, but in recent years the building has suffered serious deferred maintenance issues.

On Dec. 6, 2013, it was purchased by Tai Ventures, LLC to serve as their local business office and is already undergoing substantial restoration work. Dr. Luther Tai, former Senior Executive at Consolidated Edison, and currently CEO of Roberts Bay Marina of Venice Fla., along with his sister, Dr. Lolly Tai, professor of landscape architecture at Temple University (Pa.) are the new owners. They state: "Our primary goal is to preserve the historical character of buildings and to restore them promptly when we acquire them." Tai Ventures, LLC was first introduced to Troy about a year ago when the company purchased No. 17 First St., which is also currently under renovation.

Their goal of historically-correct renovation is assisted by Joseph Michael Kelly, preservation architect. He says: "Historic buildings like Knox and Mead are irreplaceable." And, "Troy has such a rich architectural heritage and I see endless conservation opportunities."

Indeed, Troy has many treasures. Most important among these invaluable assets are: its residents, long-timers as well as newly-arrived, who strive to create a livable, walkable, diverse city; its talented work force; and of course, its rich architecture.

Written by John R. Pattison, a Troy native and resident of the Pottery District. "Troy’s Treasures" is a project of Troy Rehabilitation & Improvement Program (TRIP).