Skip to content

Newlyweds plant new roots in old home

April 27, 2011

by TG Branfalt Jr.

Not only is the large white colonial on Mercer Street a Pine Hills mainstay, it was also at the center of a recent bidding war between home buyers. Until recently, only two families had lived there – the Booths, from 1920 to 1925, and the Mullenneuxs, from 1925 to 2010. Now, a newlywed couple calls this historic house home.

Patrick and Brianne Noonan moved into their new house on Mercer Street over Labor Day weekend 2010. and were married a few weeks later. The colonial is the second Albany home for the couple, their first in Pine Hills.

Patrick, 29, grew up in this same neighborhood. He played Babe Ruth baseball at Sid Bloom Field and pick up basketball at

Patrick and Brianne Noonan (TG Branfalt Jr.)

the courts adjoining the field on Woodlawn Avenue.

Brianne, 27, grew up on Spring Street Road in Loudonville, near Siena. She spent six months in South Africa learning a marketing company’s business model. When she returned, she brought with her a dog, Motome, half dachshund half miniature pinscher.

Patrick, whose  parents still live nearby on Ryckman Avenue,  is general manager of a city landmark, his family’s restaurant – The Orchard Tavern. Work is only about a one and a half mile commute north on North Manning Boulevard.

Interestingly, Brianne works as director of business development for her family’s company, Mailworks, close to The Orchard on Prospect Avenue. In fact, The Orchard often served as a spot for Brianne’s working lunches. Her start-up company, Rebel Marketing is also housed on Prospect. Often in the same place at the same time, Brianne and Patrick had never met until they both attended a friend’s wedding.

Today, they share an impeccably neat and organized home. Matome runs on the recently renovated wood floors, nails scraping. Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones emanates from an iPad.

“We went through this process of getting the house, us and two or three other couples. It was a war,” said Patrick. “We had to change our offer a couple of times.” The 4,000-square-foot home cost them $199,000, well under the assessed value of $365,000. The couple caught a break because little had been done to the 90-year-old house. Some modification has been completed since they moved in.

“There was no room for a fridge in the kitchen,” Brianne said. “We moved the doorway to the second butler’s pantry to make room for a fridge.”

The Noonans even learned a little something about the house’s last stewards.

“The Mullenneauxs lived in this house since 1925. Their daughter lived here since she was born in 1926,” Brianne said. “Until the 1950’s the Mullenneauxs had girls from either Ireland or Germany living in the servants quarters. We checked the 1930 census and there were two foreign nationals living in this house, as help.”

Servants quarters and butler’s pantries were fairly common in the early Pine Hills homes, according to Cara Macri, director of preservation services for the Historic Albany Foundation. “By 1930, it was becoming rare for houses to have servants quarters, however, as the city grew west, it was the well-to-do who purchased many of the westward homes,” she said.

The Noonans’ new, old home is sparsely, but brilliantly decorated with dark wood tables and bright, but not loud, colors for their furniture and area rugs.

“Under the dining room rug there is a servants bell,” Brianne said.  “When it was time for the next course, someone would just push the button with their foot, and that would ring the bell.”

Patrick pushed the door between the kitchen and dining room and let it sway. “The servants would come down the separate staircase, and come in through this swinging door, he said.

Although the Noonans do not intend on employing servants – though “a girl can dream” – the house has many amenities for a modern comfortable life. The living room features a working, painted-gray, brick fireplace. Antique sconces provide a dim ambiance. The original push button switches operate the ceiling lights and the house has two full bathrooms and two half-baths.

A 100-year-old bathroom fixture. (TG Branfalt Jr.)

All of the fixtures in the bathroom are American originals. The bathtubs are stamped “Standard,” the mark of the American Standard Company. The water controls in the tub are marked “Pat. Dec. 22, 1914. Made for Crane Co.” – the parent company of Standard.

The floors whine as the boards are walked on. The stairs creak with every step, which is expected from a house this age. However, there are no signs of bowing in the wood and each step is solid.

The bedrooms are on the second floor of the house. One of them has been “taken over” by Brianne, as a dressing room. Another is the couple’s master bedroom and a third “has nursery written all over it,” Patrick said during the tour.

The third floor, a large open attic, is the former servants quarters. Patrick has to duck to enter each room. Antique curtains hang on ancient brass bars across the windows.

“I like to joke this is where my son will lose his virginity,” Patrick said through a chuckle.

“The house was completely empty, but they left us this,” Brianne said as she opened a crawl space unveiling what seemed to be a painted-white metal basin, “a bed pan.”

A galvanized bar hung between two walls.

“There must have been a curtain here,” Patrick noted, “the servants literally relieved themselves in this area.”

The history of this house is undeniable, a Pine Hills relic, even as students have  begun to encroach into the neighborhood.

More than a month ago student behavior drew negative attention to the area when a small riot broke out on Hudson Avenue.

“People say that it happened in the Pine Hills, but that gives the whole neighborhood a bad name,” Brianne said.

“It’s the student ghetto within Pine Hills,” Patrick said. “With the exception of this year there has never really been a newsworthy problem. There have always been parties.

“It’s not like it was the ‘Annual UAlbany Riot.’ Half of them were from Hudson Valley and out of town,” he continued. “Albany High School is right there. Anyone with half-a-brain can tell it’s a student area.”

“I partied in college, but I didn’t flip anyone’s car or trash a block,” Brianne said. “It’s ugly to drive by.”

Brianne, however, doesn’t blame the escalating problem solely on the students.

“The city needs to start cracking down and fining the landlords for people [causing code violations.] If you crack down on the landlords they are going to react,” she said.

The Noonans are also landlords; and rent the first home they shared on Irving Street, closer to downtown near Lark.

“If I were getting fined because of my tenants I would in turn be more strict on my tenants and more selective to whom I am renting to,” Brianne said. “Every year you see another house dropping off and you can tell it’s because students are renting it, not saying that all students are going to be bad tenants,“ she said.

“If it’s a landlord from New Jersey, they come up once a year to check on it, just to make sure it’s still standing,” Patrick elaborated on Brianne’s point.

“During the summer Pine Hills is generally a quiet neighborhood, it’s completely different. No cabs at 3:30 a.m.,” Patrick said, “since the riots people are making it seem like this is the worst place in the world. I don’t think anyone believes that.”

The couple even spends much of their free time in Pine Hills.

“You can walk to The Point for dinner, Mahar’s for beer. Eat. Drink. Walk home,” Patrick said.

“A lot of people our age, young professionals, grad students, look to come to this area,” Brianne said.

“You can start your roots in these, at least, 70 year old houses,” Patrick said, “the house and location have everything you could ask for. This house is a whole new beginning, where I grew up.”

“I don’t think we’ll ever leave,” the two said,  the only time they spoke over one another. -30-


From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: