About the Owner

I became fascinated by 19th century architecture when I bought my first Victorian house, a distressed Queen Anne home on Gillespie Street in Schenectady. That was way back in 1984. I lived in the building for 15 years, first in one apartment, then another. Old houses can be addictive. When several neighboring Victorians went on the market, I couldn’t resist.  I left my teaching job and, with several partners and helpers, set up a small rental business specializing in attractive apartments in historic neighborhoods.

Jackie Craven Does Heavy Lifting at Storm King in Mountainville, NY

Taking care of old houses requires a lot of heavy lifting.

At first we focused on fixing the buildings, preserving what we could and remodeling where necessary.  The Schenectady Heritage Foundation rewarded my efforts when I restored a dilapidated porch, replacing the 1950s-era wrought iron with salvaged wood columns. Another Heritage award came when I removed (yes, removed!) the vinyl siding from a turn-of-the-century house. (See photos.)

The renovation projects brought new energy to my primary career, writing. After completing a Doctor of Arts in English from UAlbany, I wrote home improvement articles for House & Garden magazine, Realtor Magazine, and other publications. I became a columnist for the architecture pages at About.com, published two books on interior design, The Healthy Home and The Stress-Free Home, and began writing  stories and poems for literary magazines.

Today, I still live next to my rental buildings and divide my time between writing and renovations.  I depend on younger and stronger folk to do the heavy lifting, but you’ll still see me hauling ladders up and down the street. My goal is to create an interesting and pleasing community for the tenants, many of whom are employees of nearby  GE. They are also my neighbors and my friends.

Please don’t hesitate to send me an email if you’d like to learn more about Pretty Apartments.

Jackie Craven

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