“We didn’t know there was an Exorcist Catholic church in Albany. I thought there was a military memorial.”
The joke was classic Clemente, but it could have backfired.
Clemente Paolo — he and his wife, Stephanie, preferred to be called Clemente — recently bought his new home in Albany for $268,000, which their realtor considered a bargain in light of the modest two-bedroom property. But Clemente had little idea there was once a home there, as so many others are on the block. The neighborhood had historically been inhabited by the Italian immigrant workers who built the new city in the late 19th century. Among other things, their grand Georgian Revival-style home is the headquarters of the Archdiocese of Albany.
But a window into the living room of the ex-pope’s former residence — a nod is made to his title in the plaque over the front door — nearly immediately seemed to quell any such reservations.
Stephanie was quick to notice the pedigree of her new home. But even Clemente was surprised.
“I assumed the right-of-way was on the right,” he said. “I didn’t realize there was a street. So we’re looking for ways to get around that, too.”
The Italian flat, where relatives lived until the owners moved out, is now largely covered in foliage. The Paolos say they want to redo some of the interior but that it needs help; much of the vintage brass has been lost to old age.
Stephanie and Clemente Paolo, who moved into the house with their family just a few days ago, when Stephanie’s husband recently finished work on the historic structure. (Damien Poirier for The Washington Post/CC BY-SA 3.0)
Stephanie said the family still hadn’t found out how long it will take to restore the house to its former glory, but it was something they wouldn’t hold back on.
“It’s amazing how much effort takes to get this stuff back to its proper place,” she said. “Just keeping it from falling apart is enough. That’s what we are prepared to do for our whole family.”
Clemente, an executive of a biotechnology company, called the home “a beautiful place to call home,” but then, in a moment of “Lazy Susans,” made a reference to the 1973 horror classic, “The Exorcist.”
“I was a huge fan of ‘The Exorcist’ as a kid,” he said. “And we are also a huge fan of history.”