Saturday, February 13, 2010

Playing (with) the Numbers in Hudson

In his book Historic Hudson: An Architectural History, Byrne Fone reports that in 1799 the name of Hudson's principal thoroughfare was changed from Main Street to Warren Street: "One day, Hudsonians saw messages in red and yellow chalked on fences along the street summarily informing them that 'this street is no longer Main Street but called Warren Street by order of the Common Council.'"

Ninety years later, Warren Street--and every other east-west street in Hudson--underwent another change, although it couldn't have happened as suddenly as the name change, since it required the cooperation of many. Hudson instituted "hundred blocks." The buildings, which before had simply been numbered sequentially from the river on up, were renumbered to indicate the block in which they were located. On Allen Street, the change resulted in the abrupt skip from 59 to 201, because First Street deadends at Union Street and Allen Street continues uninterrupted from Front Street to Second Street.

There is more evidence of the change on Allen Street: two houses that still display their original numbers. At 228 Allen Street, you can still see number 84 in stained glass over the door, and at 330 Allen Street, 150 is etched in the glass transom.

From time to time, new property owners in Hudson discover some pre-1888 evidence that something remarkable happened or someone important lived or worked in their building, only to be disappointed when they realize that it wasn't their building after all. The Hudson Directory for 1888-89, which can be consulted in the History Room of the Hudson Area Library, gives both numbers for most properties. If you know who owned or occupied your house at that time, you can find out what its original number was. My house--now 209 Allen Street--was originally 71 Allen Street. At the time of the transition, Richard Horan, who owned a grocery store on Front Street, and his family, including his bachelor brother, lived here.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you, Carole, for this information. As our house is represented in your story (the "150" with the two-year-old Christmas wreath), I can say it's nice to know how -- and when -- we became 330 Allen. Do you know how exactly the early numbering was done? What would 150 mean in terms the number of houses "up" from Front?

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  2. Peter, I don't know when the original numbering was done, and I don't know if the numbers were assigned to actual buildings or to building lots, which were only 26 feet wide. I have a feeling it may have been the latter, since if you count up from the yellow brick Gothic Revival house, which is 59 Allen Street, to my house, using the old numbers, every house had its own number, including the two houses at the western end of my row which now share the number 201. So if I were to guess, I would say that 150 indicates that your house occupies the 75th (26-foot) lot up from Front Street on the north side of Allen, but obviously your house--and every other house on the 300 block of Allen Street--occupies more than one lot.

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