Warren County Historical Society Presents …

The Digital Version “REWIND”

January 15, 2019

 

Robert Rheinlander – Glens Falls Architect, Contractor

and Engineer

 

     Robert (Rob) H. Rheinlander was born in North Adams, Massachusetts in 1880.  At some point his family moved to Saratoga Springs.   After his schooling and formal training as an architect and engineer, he moved to Glens Falls.

     Rob based his architect/contractor business out of his home on Berry Street in downtown Glens Falls.  Berry Street no longer exists as a result of the frenzy of Urban Renewal in the 1960s.  At the time, the street was located in the area just north of where the Cool Insuring Arena (Civic Center) sits today, and it ran between Glen Street and Church Street near St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

The home and office of Robert Rheinlander on Berry Street in Glens Falls.  It was demolished in 1970 in the Urban Renewal program.

     In Glens Falls, Rob was active in the community.  He was a former director of the Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Company, and a director of the Tait Paper and Color Industries, later known as Imperial Paper and Color Corp. and ultimately Ciba-Geigy.

     He was a member of the Glens Falls First Baptist Church, a 32nd degree Mason, a member of the Senet Lodge of Masons of Albany, the Albany Sovereign Consistory, and the Scottish Rite Masons.

     Well known as an architect, Rheinlander was a member of the Society of American Registered Architects.  In addition, his training prepared him to be an engineer as well as a building contractor.  In many of his works in the area he served as architect and contractor.  This was true for the houses he designed and built for the Pruyn sisters on Warren Street.

 

     As architect and builder, Rob designed and built many large and well-known buildings in Warren County.  Many of his buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.  Among his architectural achievements are:

  • The Sagamore Hotel. After a devastating fire in 1914, Rheinlander and a Mr. Carpenter of New York City designed and rebuilt the hotel (1921-1923).  Located on Green Island in the Town of Bolton, the new design replaced a grand Victorian hotel.  The new hotel was done in a Georgian Colonial design – borrowed from George Washington’s Mount Vernon home.  The hotel re-opened for business on June 15, 1923.  It is the main building that stands today.

  • Finch, Pruyn Company. Rheinlander designed and built the paper companies beautiful stone headquarters building on Glen Street at the river’s edge.

  • Pruyn Sisters homes. Now the Hyde Museum, the Hyde home, Hoopes home and Cunningham home on Warren Street were all part of Rob Rheinlander’s work.  All three homes are now part of the Hyde Museum complex.

  • Crandall Library. The original brick building for the Crandall Library on City Park was a Rheinlander project.

    Crandall Library on City Park, Glens Falls

  • Halfway House. The internationally known Halfway House inn and restaurant, located where the Dexter Shoe Outlet is at the intersection of Route 149 and Route 9 at the north end of the Lake George Outlets, was one of his projects.

          

Internationally known Halfway House at French Mountain

     In addition to these projects, Rob Rheinlander also designed many of the fine beautiful homes in the city.

The Tait house on Crandall Park

Do you recognize this home?

 

The Finch home at Irongate

 

 

The L.P. Brown house on Ridge Street

      Rob Rheinlander was married to Evangeline Kirkland, but she passed away.  He was married a second time to Pauline Dearstyne from Glens Falls.  She was the daughter of Harvey Rey Dearstyne, a CPA in the city.  Rob and Pauline had two children, a son Robert and a daughter who may have been Pauline after her mother, but she was known by the nickname “Billie.”

     Sometime in the 1980s, the Hyde Museum had an exhibit about Rob Rheinlander.  The Dearstyne family (Rob’s in-laws) shared a letter written by Rob Rheinlander’s wife Pauline with this author.

     The following information was excerpted from a personal letter to Phyllis and Harvey Dearstyne.  The letter writer was Pauline Dearstyne Rheinlander, sister of Harvey and wife of Rob Rheinlander.

          The 8-page letter was written on Monday, June 28, 1982.  Personal parts of the letter have been omitted (…).  Punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling are copied here as it was written.

I’ve gathered some pictures – something I hope may be useful for Hyde museum exhibition and Harvey if you’ll refer to the Outline of Building Design, Erection, Supervision & General Experiences of R. H. Rheinlander Reg. Architect.  His seal and New York registration didn’t show in your copy but it is on the original which I have his number was 4357.  On your copy – The Pruyn Estate (3 homes, Garage – landscaping) contains the Hyde estate.  You see the Pruyn “girls,” Charlotte, Mrs. Louis F Hyde, Nellie, Mrs. T. Cunningham, and Mary, Mrs. Maurice Hoopes were the daughters of the Pruyn half of Finch, Pruyn.  Rob did build a lot of the mill buildings and also that beautiful office building.  Mr. Hoopes had a thing about exercise and was as straight as a bean pole – can “see” him walking by the house on his way to & from the office five days a week – always dressed just so including hat and always carrying an umbrella (very fine black silk, of course, which he used like a walking stick – quite the gentleman.  Mr. Hyde very seldom walked & Dr. Cunningham didn’t stay with Nell or in Glens Falls but earned quite a reputation as a surgeon.

Rob was not fond of him but thought very well of Nell and her companion.  Didn’t know Mary or Maurice as well as he did Charlotte and Louis and they thought he was pretty special.   I told you Mr. Hyde died in Rob’s arms.  Well he did – was stricken at a bank director’s meeting and Rob was the one who was first at his side – cutting away his tie & collar and commanding the others to step aside & “give the man room to breathe.”  Well, I guess his breathing was over.  If CPR had been known then I imagine Rob would have done that too.  I suppose that is the real reason that Charlotte was so fond & thoughtful of Rob and of course she included me because I was his wife.

I am getting away from the subject I started!  Going back to the resume RHR – the last part says:  Also

          3 years chief engineer Champlain Silk Mills

          5 years Chairman Zoning Board of Appeals

          15 years Director National Bank & Trust Co.

                             “        Champlain Silk Mills

                             “        Imperial Wall paper Co.

          President   Whitehall Home Building Co.

                    “          Broad Acres Corp.

          Trustee       Crandall Trust

          25 years     Office.        Architect, Structural Engineering,

                                                Supervision, Consultation, Appraisals,

                                                Architration, Registered Architect New

                                                York State

 

          Thinking back, Harve, Rube Hammond I don’t think was on the Hoopes, Hyde, Cunningham Estates but after John Vera’s time Rube was the stone mason, good that is…By the way, Rob did the gateway to the Bay Street Cemetery against his wishes (Location) and Howard Ramsey was the contractor on that and I think also the entrance to the Glens Falls Country Club.

In a PPS, Pauline writes the following:

I’ve written Rob’s sister Margaret asking her for information about the family in Saratoga and when they moved to Glens Falls.  I know Granpa (sic) Norcross bought his daughter a house on Birch Ave. for her & the children.

(end of letter)

 

     Rob Rheinlander died in Glens Falls in 1961.  He is buried in the Rheinlander family burial plot in the Bay Street Cemetery.

Sources:

History of the Sagamore Hotel by William Preston Gates (2001)

National Register of Historic Places

Wikipedia

Personal interview with relatives

Photos courtesy of the Dearstyne family

This article was prepared by Stan Cianfarano, Warren County Historian, for the Warren County Historical Society.  He thanks the Dearstyne family for sharing their memories, letters and photographs.

 

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