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Calling Pine Hills Home For Over 50 Years

March 29, 2010

by Caitlin Farrell

ALBANY N.Y. – Students filter into the Pine Hills neighborhood as absentee landlords scoop up properties and rent them out. Full time residents are becoming few and far between in the historic area.

But many longtime residents make up this community. Ed and Connie Butler have lived on Morris Street for more than 50 years. They rent out the first floor of their home as an apartment, so they have become a part of both the student and family communities in the Pine Hills.

Before owning, the Butlers rented an apartment on Western Avenue near Manning Boulevard until they were expecting their second child. Then, in 1959, they moved into their current Pine Hills home.

“It’s filled with a lot of history and a lot of wonderful people live in this area,” Ed Butler said of his neighborhood.

Many families wanted to move into this area at that time, as soon as a house was for sale a family bought it off the market immediately. One of the draws to the Pine Hills was the close proximity to schools. When the Butlers moved into their home some 85 children grew up just on that block of Morris Street.

Ed remembers that Freihofer Baking Co. delivered bread to each of the houses in the neighborhood. His family also attended the Saint Rose concerts each year. Even from the start of the 50 years they have lived here Saint Rose was a part of the community.

The Butlers consider the students an asset to the area, they have always loved seeing the friendly faces around the neighborhood.

“They are the best landlords I’ve ever had” said Stephen Piwowarski, a graduate of Saint Rose and one of their current tenants.

After living in the downstairs apartment of this 100-year-old home for two years, Piwowarski characterizes the Butlers as personable and said that they try their best to stay in touch with the community.

Butler, the mother of three, said the college students she is familiar with are not representative of the those who are loud and messy and throw parties. She said that they are polite and say hello to her as they pass. A couple of times she remembers students helping her carry groceries up to her second floor home. The Butlers have always found the college residents to be a wonderful addition to the community.

“They’re very understanding,” said Dom Gervasio, a former tenant. “When you meet them they accept you as part of their family almost immediately.”

The abundance of stores, churches, and banks in the neighborhood has always been something that the Butlers enjoyed. It’s almost like there’s a Pine Hills culture the way that everything’s right here. This close proximity is also nice because parking has become a difficulty for them so they don’t go out at night anymore because they don’t want the challenge of finding a spot. Both of the Butlers are elderly and they have trouble walking a long distance, they are trying to get a handicap spot put near their house.

A graduate of Siena College, Butler values education. He notices the growth at The College of Saint Rose and thinks it’s great. While he appreciates the contributions of the college in the neighborhood, it comes at the expense of the togetherness and family atmosphere there once was.

“They’ve got to grow with the area, or the area can filter in with them, grow with them. And we’ll all be one big happy family” said Butler. -30-

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