A century-old sign of Albany history saw the light of day again when workers took the stucco off the brick wall of the old King Griff Building on the northeast corner of Third Avenue and Lyon Street.
The historic building houses the headquarters of CHANCE, the regional counseling and addiction recovery organization, and a contractor, Pyburn & Sons Inc., is restoring and rebuilding the exterior to closely resemble the place when it opened in 1910.
It was built by Griff King to house his grocery store, which for some reason he named by reversing the order of his first and last names. Through the decades the building had several owners and uses, and it’s not evident whether the writing on the wall uncovered now refers to the original store or a later one.
In the 1970s the building was remodeled for a pizza business, which later became Pizza King. CHANCE acquired the property after Pizza King closed.
The exterior restoration is being done with the help of CARA, the downtown urban renewal district, which gave the nonprofit a $75,000 forgivable loan.
When the CARA board approved the help in December 2020, it said the loan would be forgiven — become a grant — if he work was completed by June 30. But according to Sophie Dykast, the economic development coordinator working with CARA, the loan contract was not executed until April, so CHANCE has until October to get the restoration done.
Old Griff King appears to have been a versatile guy who once served briefly as Albany police chief, according to a commenter under a story that appeared here a year ago.
Will the various “grocery” letterings remain visible as a reminder of Albany’s past? I hope so, but maybe not. Pyburn’s list of jobs on the original CARA application said the brick walls would be sealed and painted once the stucco was gone. (hh)
Postscript: CHANCE Executive director Jeff Blackford responded: “We have not been able to tell exactly what the sign reads. I am hoping we will save the sign, but that is up to my board. I have my fingers crossed.”