NEWTONVILLE – Residents driving on New Loudon Road may notice a brand-new marker at the Newtonville Post Office. On Tuesday, June 20, Town of Colonie officials replaced the 1979 historical marker, which was originally erected by the Historical Society of the Town of Colonie.
The new marker reads: “Site of First Baptist Church, 1852. Rev. William Arthur, Preacher, Father of 21st President Chester Alan Arthur.”
“The new sign is worded a bit differently, but now it can be seen more clearly,” Colonie Town Historian Kevin Franklin said. “It is brighter and in a new spot. It really looks great.”
According to Town Supervisor Peter Crummey, the town moved the marker to a spot directly in front of the post office to increase visibility. Town crews installed the new sign last week and gave it a coat of fresh paint.
“It really stands out, and people will be able to easily see this is a historic place,” Crummey said.
Located at 522 New Loudon Road, the post office was once the Calvary Baptist Church. The church, built sometime in the 19th century, was erected on land belonging to John Newton, the namesake of Newtonville.
The use of the church during the second half of the 19th century was short-lived. It was believed that the Rev. William Arthur, father of U.S. President Chester A. Arthur, possibly preached at the location during the time of 1855-1863.
After retiring from preaching, William Arthur went to Schenectady to publish the magazine, The Antiquarian and General Review, to which he contributed articles, and occasionally preached. He died Oct. 27,1885 in Newtonville, according to Wikipedia.
In 1971, the Town of Colonie purchased the post office and adjacent land to preserve it from destruction, and a year later, an application was made to The U.S. Department of the Interior requesting the building be added to the National Registry of Historic Places. Arthur Road, located next to the current post office, is named after the Arthur family.
The Newtonville post office houses only mailboxes and does not have carriers that home deliver mail. The mail carriers for the area are stationed out of the Loudonville station and the Latham post office on Route 155.
“If you want to step back in history to see what a post office looked like, Newtonville is the place to see,” Crummey said. “It is really amazing.”
The Marker Reception
Crummey recognized and celebrated the historical significance of the post office and its connection to the Arthur family.
“This is an opportunity for people just driving through to see the significant history that is here in the Town of Colonie,” Crummey said.
Crummey said understanding the town’s past is important to building a better Colonie.
John McIntyre contributed to this story.