Schoolcraft mansion is a wonderfully beautiful structure of Guilderland's history

John Lawrence Schoolcraft was president of the National Commercial Bank from 1854 until his death in 1860. This portrait, by Augusta Dudley, was donated by the bank to the town of Guilderland and the Friends of the Schoolcraft House. It hangs in Town Hall and will be moved to Schoolcraft’s home once it is restored.

Castle-like, the Schoolcraft Cultural Center glows in the evening from its luminous Gothic windows. Restoration efforts are bringing the 1840s mansion back to its original beauty. Watch The Altamont Enterprise for coming events.

The "Holiday Event" at the Schoolcraft Cultural Center in December was a huge success as almost 200 visitors enjoyed the festive Gothic mansion with the fresh Christmas tree and the Musicians of Ma'alwyck playing seasonal songs from all over the world.

Perhaps a recap of the history of the original builder and owner of the Guilderland architectural gem on the Western Turnpike is in order. The 15-room house has six fireplaces; one very large brick fireplace in the basement has a baking oven on the side of it.

Plaster crown decorative molding adorns the ceiling in what was originally called the “ballroom.”   Appropriate chandeliers and sconces have replaced original candle lighting.

The kitchen is workable with handmade cabinets and a farm type of sink.  Tall Gothic ceiling-to-floor windows with sliding indoor shutters have been sanded and are ready to be finished this year.  The house is a remarkable and wonderfully beautiful structure of Guilderland's history.

In a small pamphlet titled "Portraits of Presidents," published by the National Commercial Bank and Trust Company in 1970, John Lawrence Schoolcraft is listed as the third president of that institution, serving from 1854 to1860.

The pamphlet also has this information on him.

“John Lawrence Schoolcraft was one of Albany's most substantial businessmen and a noted figure in Albany County politics first as a Whig and later as a Republican.  He was a close personal friend of Thurlow Weed and William H. Seward, the Civil War Secretary of State, and represented the Albany district in Congress from1849 to March 1853,  defeating Erastus Corning in one of the most hotly contested congressional fights in the history of the county.

“He attended the Republican National Convention in 1860 at which Abraham Lincoln was nominated for the presidency but was taken ill on his way home and died at St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada.

“He began mercantile life in Albany with W. and H.B. Cook and subsequently became a partner in the distinguished firms of Cook and Schoolcraft, and Schoolcraft, Raymond & Company.  He was a director of the Albany, Bennington, and  Rutland Railroad Company and also served as a director of the Albany City Bank.  He became president of Commercial Bank in 1854, holding office until his death in 1860."

Schoolcraft's portrait was painted posthumously by artist Augusta Dudley. It now hangs in the office of Guilderland town Supervisor Kenneth Runion.  It was donated by KeyBank (formerly the National Commercial Bank) to the town and the Friends of the Schoolcraft House.  The portrait will be moved to Schoolcraft's home in the Schoolcraft Cultural Center in the near future.