Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Clark Tavern

This rubble, photographed on August 6, is the last remnant of the 18th-century Clark Tavern which stood at the corner of Madison Avenue and Lark Street until late last week.

The Tavern was built by Paul Clark around 1796.  Paul was the son of Patrick Clark and seems to have established his tavern around the time of his father's death.  He had previously lived in what is now the Bushwick area of Brooklyn and returned to Albany when he inherited property from his father, including this lot.  At the time, there was little or no development in this part of Albany.  Madison Avenue appears on contemporary maps as Wolf Street and would be known as Lydius Street before receiving its current name.   He also expanded his interests to include orchards which were best known for apple trees and was a founding member of Albany's Horticultural Society. 

Upon his own death in 1831, his tavern was described as "famous" in works such as Joel Munsell's Annals of Albany.  He was buried in the State Street Burying Grounds which were located just northwest of his property in present-day Washington Park and later removed to the Church Grounds at Albany Rural Cemetery. His gravestone is featured here.

Over the years, it was occupied by various businesses, most notably a pharmacy which remained until the 1970s.  In more recent years, it was home to the Tandoori Palace.  Damaged by a severe storm in 1950, it eventually lost its upper stories and its brick walls were covered with a thick painted plaster.  It was not even included in the excellent guide to local buildings, Albany Architecture edited by Diana S. Waite.  The Clark Tavern was, in a sense, lost long before demolition began late last week

I can remember the pharmacy quite well from my childhood, but despite living doors away for my entire life and being very interested in historic places, I was never aware of the actual age of this familiar building until this summer.  Which is not to say I didn't suspect the building of being a little older than it appeared with its wrought-iron wall-ties that seemed at odds with the ugly plaster.  During Art On Lark, I was handed a small flier about the building by a man I later recognized as John Wolcott, an advocate of historic preservation. 

A new building is planned for the corner of Madison and Lark which will include residential and retail units.


  1. As I was reading this I was wondering if you received that small flyer during Art On Lark!

  2. Thank you for writing about the tavern. Very interesting.