Earlier this month, members of the fire company contested a decision to sell the Alplaus Avenue building, citing the possibility of utilizing the space for expansion in the future.
Cherie Haughney, a freelance writer and mother who has called Alplaus home for 14 years, spearheaded the effort to preserve the building. She created a petition and Facebook page to rally support to save the historic building – the Facebook page now has 265 followers.
“Saving this historic building means it will be around for generations to come,” Haughney said, after learning the building will be sold and preserved. “It will be lovingly restored, reused and transformed into a true neighborhood asset.”
The prospective buyers, Jeff Christiana and his son Jason, are planning to renovate the building so the upstairs can be rented as a one-bedroom apartment, according to Haughney. She said she hopes to rent the bottom floor of the building, where she wants to open a bakery and coffee shop. She plans to name her shop “Postale Bake Shop,” in honor of the old post office.
Fire District Chairman Andy Gilpin confirmed the building is now for sale, though there are still some hurdles.
“There are a lot more steps that need to happen before we can sell the building,” he said. ”We need to subdivide the property, get an area variance and change the usage zoning.”
Gilpin said he has no timeline for a sale of the building, though the price is $20,000.
Gloria Kishton, of the Schenectady Heritage Foundation, said the building is significant because of its age and the role it has played in the hamlet’s history.
“It is over 100 years old,” she said. “Because it has remained in place and has been well-used, it has come to be considered the hub of the hamlet of Alplaus.
“As development changed much of the surrounding area, the old post office remained the same. It has come to represent the essence of small-town life.”
Kishton believes the building’s preservation will help define the hamlet as a place where “getting to know your neighbors is important,” she said.
“Residents want to retain the sense of community and a gathering space that the old post office will offer,” she concluded.
The structure was built between 1906 and 1908, according to the preservation petition. By 1910, it was transformed into the hamlet’s first grocery store by Jacob Boyce, of Ballston Lake. Boyce’s daughter Ida later turned it into a post office, where she was postmaster for 30 years until retiring in 1972.
Ida’s husband, Joe Dillman, ran a bike shop from the same building. According to Alplaus historian Cliff Hayes, the building has also been used as an insurance agency and a gift shop.
The post office officially closed in 2012.
Haughney said Alplaus’ “distinctive charm” is a large part of why she and her husband chose to live in the Capital Region. “The old post office building is the very essence of that distinctive charm and neighborhood character, and its preservation and continued use is essential.”