History of the Polish American Citizens Club of Albany
In the early spring of 1931, in the Arbor Hill section of Albany, New York, about a dozen men of Polish descent decided to form a club. These men enjoyed spending time together and felt there was a need to share their culture through an organization. The organization would also contribute to the welfare and well-being of their friends of Polish extraction, assist them in procuring citizenship papers, and school them in the American way of life.
On April 23, 1931, under the guidance of charter member and attorney Anthony Pitkiewicz, five men – Anthony Ostrowski, Stanley Ostrowski, Alexander Smith, William Kosinski, and John Tanski – went to the Albany County Court House and officially formed the Polish American Citizens Club of Albany Incorporated. A short time later in 1933, the Ladies Auxiliary was established.
The newly formed corporation first held meetings at Smetka’s Pool Hall at 55 North Swan Street. After about a year, Club friend and advisor, Sylvester Busch suggested renting Spidaro’s Pool Hall at 182 Northern Boulevard for $25 a month. Two and a half years later Mr. Busch suggested another move to a closed grocery store at 233-235 Third Street. The property was in the possession of the City Savings Bank of Albany.
On June 30, 1934, the Club assumed the mortgage on the Third Street property. The grand opening of the Club was held on October 7, 1934. This is where the Club would call home for the next fifty-three years; referred to now by many as the “Old Club.” The property consisted of a three-story building with a two-car garage next door. The first floor of the Old Club was our bar room with a pool table and a potbelly stove. The second floor served as our banquet and dance hall, with a kitchen on the third floor. After many renovations including a new bar from New York City (1946) and a new walk-in cooler (1951), the original mortgage was finally paid off on June 1, 1955.
In the early 1950s, many new members were unable to speak Polish and the tradition of holding all meetings in the Polish language was changed. The membership voted to hold meetings in both Polish and English so everyone could understand. This was eventually changed to all English.
In 1958, the two-car garage building was demolished to make room for a new banquet hall. Construction was started in the spring of the following year on the new facility and completed for a grand opening held on June 13, 1959. In 1962, the third floor of the Old Club had to be removed due to deterioration, and a new roof was installed.
On July 21, 1965, the Club purchased a two-story building at 237 Third Street. It was torn down to make room for a new picnic and recreation area. In 1969 our final mortgage was paid off.
By the early 1980s, the officers of the Club realized they were outgrowing the Third Street facility. Members started a search for property where a brand new Club could be built. Land was first considered on Everett Road but was rejected by the membership. Property was then purchased on Northern Boulevard, and site work was started before plans were canceled because the property was found to be unsuitable.
In 1985, some Club officers decided to attend an auction on a foreclosed piece of land at 110 Commerce Avenue. This property was part of the former home of West Albany Railroad Shops where railroad cars were stored and repaired. Unfortunately, the Club was outbid. A short time after the auction, much to the delight of our members, the successful bidder called and offered to sell the property to the Club for the amount of his bid.
On November 27, 1985, the Club purchased four acres of land at 110 Commerce Avenue and immediately hired architect and Club member Henry Dennis to design a modern club facility. In the spring of 1987, ground was broken on our new Club.
In the fall of 1987, the Club received its Certificate of Occupancy, and a new era in Club history was born. The Old Club on Third Street was then sold to Walking the Walk Ministry on February 29, 1988.
In the fall of 1989 funds were sufficiently built up and members decided to add a pavilion adjacent to the Club. The pavilion was built from a modern design that included a full kitchen and bar. The stage area was added a short time later and the pole barn was constructed in 1997 for additional room. On September 2, 2001, the pavilion was dedicated to our past president, the late Edward “Rogy” Rogozinski in remembrance of his hard work and dedication to our Club. Mr. Rogozinski died while serving as Club treasurer in 1998.
With membership continuing to grow and activities expanding, the Club found the need to add to the main building several times.
In 1992, an addition was built onto the back of the kitchen for more storage. In 1993 another addition was constructed to expand the office and game room areas. In 1995, the banquet hall was extended out to handle the overflowing crowds. In 1999, a gazebo was added to the grounds near the main building.
The Polish American Citizens Club of Albany has a rich history of hard work, dedication, and support from its members that has enabled us to share the beautiful facility that we love today. Our past should not be forgotten. Our members, past and present, helped to make the PACC the successful organization that it is today and what it can be tomorrow.