Development of the southwestern edge of Albany, off New Scotland Ave, began in earnest in the early 1920’s. One major developer was John Cregan ( office located at 86 State St.), who was building houses in the area near Buckingham Lake (Raft’s Pond) on Lenox and Euclid Avenues. He called the development “Buckingham Gardens”.
According to a 1968 column by Charlie Mooney in the Albany Knickerbocker News, the sales brochure identified the area as being “well out in the country”, and was “.. only 15 minutes from downtown Albany, in a healthful climate, with sandy soil that dries quickly.” (SO NOT TRUE.. it’s solid clay. ) “Soon Euclid and Lenox Avenues , two of the finest residential areas in the City are to be extended clear across Buckingham Gardens to New Scotland Avenue.” “The lots are large (smallest ones. 140 feet deep, with 40 ft. to 60 ft frontage and wide 66 foot streets.” “There is plenty of room for both vegetable and flower gardens. Raise your own vegetables and cut down on living expenses.”
The brochure describes amenities such as a shopping area on New Scotland Ave., between Quail St. and Seneca (now Ontario) St., a large new school (PS #19), a Congregational Church [on Quail St., just above New Scotland Ave.] and a Catholic Chapel and bus service (by the Gray line.. the name for the old Transit Company buses because of their color) to New Scotland Ave. and So. Allen St. every half hour. The financial terms were 20% down, with the balance 5%/month., and 5% off for cash in full.
During the beginning of the Depression development in the area slowed dramatically. It wasn’t until the late 1930’s when several other real estate developers took a crack at building in Buckingham Gardens, and in an area slightly to the west on New Scotland Ave, called “Golden Acres”. One of the builders was George Hockensmith (Hockensmith Contracting) who built 254 Lenox Ave., about 5 houses in from New Scotland Avenue in 1938, as well as 24 Buckingham Dr., advertised for sale in 1938 for $10.500.
The Picotte Builidng Company moved a smidge down New Scotland Avenue for its development of “Golden Acres”. including Berncliff and Crescent Avenues, closer to Whitehall Road, and homes and apartment buildings on New Scotland Ave. Picotte was one of the few developers tat continued to work throughout the early years of the Depression. Between 1933 and 1938 the company built and sold 100 homes. The firm consisted of John D. Picotte and his two sons, Bernard, responsible for marketing and financing and Charles, responsible for material purchasing and supply.
The apartments included 2 bedrooms, living room, tiled bath, refrigerator, built-in kitchen cabinets, gas range of table top dimensions, incinerator with a hopper door, concealed radiators and hot water heat in an oil burner system.
By the beginning of World War II, Picotte had constructed approximately 100 homes in the “Golden Acres” development.
Coburn Realty was another builder in the “Golden Acres” area.