Friday, April 23, 2010

Library Lions

The lions flanking the entrance to the Hudson Area Library have a brilliant new coat of white paint--and that provides an occasion for considering the lions and their history.

It is generally accepted that the lions were installed during the period (1865-1881) when the building was the home of Captain George Power and his family--his wife, Adeline; six children--four daughters and two sons, ranging in age (in 1870) from 30 to 8; and an Irish-born domestic named Ellen Leach.

A paint analysis done a few years ago revealed how the lions have appeared over the past 140 or so years. The lions are cast iron, but they started out being painted verdigris to make them appear to be bronze. Victorians, I'm told, often painted things to make them appear to be of a more desirable material--iron painted to look like bronze, bluestone painted to look like brownstone.

In 1881, the Power family moved from 400 State Street to Thomas Jenkins' grand house on what is now the 200 block of Warren Street, and the Hudson Orphan & Relief Association moved in and established a home for orphans and underprivileged children there. In 1888-89, the north wing of the building was added, and somewhere around that time, the lions were painted ochre.

Later--probably well into the 20th century, since many people still remember them this way--the lions were painted to resemble real lions, with tawny bodies and darker manes and (amazingly) bright blue eyes.

It was probably around 1959, early in the tenure of the Hudson School District, that the lions were painted white, as they still are today.


  1. What became of the plan a couple years ago to have the surface of the Lions restored ?

  2. Whatever color, why do these lions look so glum, asleep even? And are they in the original "spot"? I for one get a little depressed every time I walk by them.

  3. They are a classic sculpture - I'm sure Tom Swope knows their original meaning - but they are sleeping lions - the eyeball detail is SO WRONG.