Sarah Stapleton vs. the State of New York

The house at 204 State Street, in Albany across from the Capitol, had been Sarah McGroarty Stapleton’s home since the summer of 1919, when she married her husband Edward. Born in Donegal, Ireland and raised in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Sarah moved to Albany to attend the Hospital Training School for Nurses. She was 28 years old at the time of her marriage. A decade older, Dr. Stapleton was a respected ear, nose, and throat specialist, recently returned from service as a captain in the Army Medical Corps.

Second floor living quarters, 204 State Street, April 1963. NYSA.
Second floor living quarters, 204 State Street, April 1963. NYSA.

The newlywed couple moved into the quarters above Dr. Stapleton’s medical practice and pharmaceutical laboratory on State Street. Edward met with patients in the first floor office, while Sarah ran the basement laboratory. The following year, their first child , Edward Jr., was born. A second son, Leo, was born five years later in 1925.

A view of the Capitol and Education Building, 204 State Street, April 1963. NYSA.
A view of the Capitol and Education Building, 204 State Street, April 1963. NYSA.

After her husband’s death in 1947, Sarah continued to live at 204 State. Following in their father’s footsteps, both sons became physicians. Leo remained in Albany, opening up his own medical practice at 204 State soon after he returned from the Korean War.

Sarah Stapleton described the carved walnut and oak interior of her longtime home. NYSA
Sarah Stapleton described the carved walnut and oak interior of her longtime home. NYSA

In March 1962, New York State seized 204 State Street. In settlement the State offered Sarah $30,000. She declined the offer and took her case to the Court of Claims. “Home is where the heart is…. I haven’t had a happy day since I left 204,” she told the Court. And she insisted that her property had been seriously undervalued, describing in detail the house’s brownstone granite façade and the carved walnut and oak paneled interior. The Court agreed. The State settled with Mrs. Stapleton for $42,500.

First floor fireplace, 204 State Street, April 1963. NYSA.
First floor fireplace, 204 State Street, April 1963. NYSA.
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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Stapleton says:

    As one of ten grandchildren of Edward and Sara Stapleton, my family and I would like to thank you all for your hard work, dedication, and accuracy in telling the story of our Grandparents and their elegant Dutch brownstone at 204 State Street. We are also pleased and proud that you all took the time to research and report our Grandmother’s court battle against the State of NY.

    The NY family watched the show and was impressed by all efforts. I admit we all were angered and saddened by this ego and money driven desecration of old Albany. Even more than the loss of buildings, obviously, it was displacement of a large number of people from their beloved neighborhoods, homes, and businesses. This part of a wholly unethical eminent domain grab is a critical part of Albany history and now will not be lost to future generations. Thank you all again. Sincerely, The Albany Stapleton family

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Albany Stapleton Family,

      Thanks for your kind words and encouragement. To clarify, we did assist with historical research for the film, but credit for “The Neighborhood that Disappeared” rightly belongs to Mary Paley and her collaborators.

      Sincerely,
      98 Acres

      Like

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