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GLEANINGS FROM CORN FLATS: The Pine Point Inn – A Forgotten Niskayuna Landmark

GLEANINGS FROM CORN FLATS: The Pine Point Inn – A Forgotten Niskayuna Landmark


Today’s passers-by would be surprised to learn of one of the Capital Region’s most popular dining, dancing and music venues, the Pine Point Inn, once located at the northwest intersection of the Albany-Schenectady and Balltown roads. Conveniently located on a major tram/bus line, the hostel offered access from either road as well as convenient on-site parking for cars. From the mid-1920s to the late 1950s, the inn hosted a colorful clientele that included prominent politicians, sports celebrities, business leaders, notable members of society, and even an infamous mob racketeer.

The property was part of a larger parcel that was previously owned by the famous Stanford family, who called it Locust Grove. The inn was originally built as a home by WeltonStanford Jr., a nephew of famous Senator Charles Stanford.

Newspapers in the 1920s dubbed the inn a speakeasy then under the management of Ambrose Brose Hover. As well as running the inn, Hover was a well-known sportsman and unlike many he made no secret of his love for the game and horses. He rarely missed a day of the Saratoga meet where he owned and raced horses. They said he could bet you a million and win or lose with a smile.

Hover’s gentlemanly demeanor was in stark contrast to some of the not-so-nice underworld characters who frequented the inn during Prohibition. One of them was none other than the famous Jack Legs Diamond. The nickname seems to have evolved from both his gentleness on the dance floor with the ladies and his frequent trips to both the law and rival gang members.

Diamond, a lifelong criminal, has worked his way into the illegal liquor trade and other nefarious activities. Probably Diamond was drawn to more lucrative opportunities in the Albany area from the Catskills where he had temporarily settled after being chased out of New York by several enemies, including the infamous Al Capone.

A June 22, 1930, Times Union article listed Hover as the inn’s owner with Harlan Duncan as the manager. The mentioned Hover Room completed a $25,000 addition to expand the restaurant and accommodate a dance floor, among other upgrades. . During this period, the inn also became Hovers’ residence.

When alcohol and people mix, the behavior often leads to other vices. In the early hours of October 12, 1930, a dozen people were arrested during a raid at Pine Point during which gambling equipment was confiscated. Newspaper accounts said seized roulette and craps tables, among other paraphernalia, worth approximately $10,000, were burned by New York State police.

Affiliation with the Diamond Legacy gangster came to a dramatic conclusion in late 1931. In the early morning of December 18, 1931, just hours after he was acquitted of kidnapping and torture charges in a court in Troy, NY , Diamond was killed by gunmen in an Albany bedroom. lodge. Diamonds’ murder made sensational headlines across the country and remains unsolved.

After the gambling raid and Diamonds’ murder, the expanded restaurant, featuring food, musical entertainment, and dancing, flourished under Hovers’ ownership. However, in September 1933, Hover, who was unmarried, died of persistent illness.

Ownership of Pine Point was later transferred to Hovers’ sister, Nancy Hover Hart, who also took up residence there. For more than three decades, she operated the inn as it became one of Albany’s most popular dining and entertainment venues. An August 1941 advertisement referred to the new and smart venue at Albany’s Pine Point Inn. Another said the inn has the best-equipped cocktail lounges in the Albany area. Patrons raved about the live dance music provided by various bands including PhilRomanos Orchestra and Dewey & His Band.

Countless wedding receptions, retirement dinners, parties and other memorable events have been celebrated at the Inn. Patrons included alumni of Union College, General Electric, the New York State Civil Service, and numerous religious groups. Even Ohio State’s 1944 head football coach, Carl Widdoes, came here to speak to area graduates.

The inn was so well known that real estate listings often referenced its proximity, presumably to sell for more and help locate their properties.

As Mrs. Hart grew older, commercial operations at the inn ended in the late 1950s, although she still maintained her residence there. A major fire in December 1968 significantly damaged the wooden structure, but luckily Mrs. Hart was not home. Further development of the property led to the construction of a Trustco Bank branch now located on the site, obscuring any indication of the bustling entertainment venue that once stood there.

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