Posts Tagged ‘Legs Diamond’

A piece of history for sale: author William Kennedy sells the townhouse where “Legs” Diamond was shot.

Saturday, March 11th, 2023
67 Dove Street – it’s the brown townhouse, hidden behind the trees.

Want to buy a unique piece of real estate with some history behind it? Try this: the home where Irish-American gangster “Legs” Diamond was gunned down in 1931. The townhouse is currently owned by the novelist William Kennedy, Pulitzer prizewinning author of Ironwood and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow. He is also the author of the classic novel Legs, the first book that launched his renowned “Albany Cycle.”

You may remember our recent Another Look event on Bill Kennedy’s Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game in 2021. You may also remember my interview with him, the “At the Mercy of My Passions and Opinions,” over at the Los Angeles Review of Books here.

Paul Grondahl, Director of the New York State Writers Institute and a columnist for the Albany Times Union tells the story. An excerpt:

Bill Kennedy: He’s part of the house’s history, too!

It is a stop on local history walking tours. Historic Albany Foundation attached a plaque to the brick exterior of the 19th-century building that operated as a rooming house in Diamond’s era.

Novelist William Kennedy bought the Center Square property in 1984, when Francis Ford Coppola planned to make a movie out of Kennedy’s novel about the legendary bootlegger and cold-blooded killer.

That movie never happened, but Kennedy used the rowhouse forwriting and entertaining. He wrote parts of several novels at 67 Dove St. The years piled up. Now, he is 95 and his wife, Dana, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.


Kennedy and his wife welcomed a who’s who of notable authors for nightcaps in the front parlor after New York State Writers Institute events, including Toni Morrison, Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, William Styron, Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, George Plimpton, Stephen Sondheim, August Wilson, and Russell Banks.

If you stopped by in the morning or afternoon, you might hear the staccato clacking of Kennedy pounding the keys on a 1930s vintage L.C. Smith & Corona manual typewriter positioned on a glass coffee table in front of a sofa in the back parlor.

He hammered away at the keys and had so many stacks of heavy research books piled up on the coffee table that the glass top broke. He got the glass replaced and kept writing there.

He wrote much of his 1988 novel, Quinn’s Book, and his 1992 novel, Very Old Bones, as well as portions of others in his Albany cycle at 67 Dove St.

“I loved the neighborhood because it had everything I needed,” he said.

It’s a piece of history going for just shy of half a million dollars. Chump change in California.

Read the whole story here.