Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Jane's Walk: Site 1

During the month of May, The Gossips of Rivertown will be offering a unique version of Jane Jacobs Walk for all the rugged individualists here in Hudson. Instead of one guided walk offered on a single weekend, Gossips will provide a new post each day in May that calls attention to some feature of Hudson's ever engaging built environment. With these notes in hand, readers can map out their own walks around the city, whenever it suits them, to visit the sites Gossips mentions and perhaps also to make their own discoveries.
This brick wall is perhaps the most intriguing architectural relic in Hudson. It stands along the east side of the house at 124 Union Street and, with its four fireboxes and chimney flues, is all that remains of the very early Hudson house shown in this picture. 

The house, which had a gambrel roof characteristic of Dutch vernacular architecture, is generally believed to have predated the arrival of the Proprietors in 1783. In the early 1990s, the house suffered a damaging fire, which completely destroyed the roof structure. In 1992-1993, Bill Ebel and Jeremiah Rusconi undertook to save the house. They had a new post and beam roof frame constructed for the building, but as they cleaned out the house and discovered how bad the damage was to the rest of the structure, they were slowly forced to admit it was a lost cause. 
Eventually but reluctantly, Ebel and Rusconi came to the sad conclusion that the house had to be demolished, but not before they thoroughly documented the house with photographs, measurements, and notes. The west wall of the building, however, could not come down, because the house at 124 Union Street depended on it. The house had been built between two existing buildings, using the walls of those buildings as its side walls. 


  1. I think the Druids worshipped at that brick wall.

  2. Thanks Carole,
    This is so interesting.I've always wanted to know about that house.I look forward to your
    guided daily
    tour this month.Wonderful idea,Ms. Jacobs would be so pleased.

  3. I've always wondered about that wall. Thanks!!!

  4. I'm loving this walking tour already.

  5. Thanks for the history lesson. Everyone loves that wall.

    Q: If 124 Union Street "had been built between two existing buildings, using the walls of those buildings as its side walls," does that suggest that the current adjoining buildings also predate the arrival of the Proprietors?

  6. I'm not sure I follow your logic, unheimlich. The missing building--the demolished building whose west wall remains--is the building I said was believed to have been here in 1783. No. 122, which provides the other side wall for No. 124, would only have to have been built before No. 124 was built, which probably happened toward the middle of the latter half of the 19th century. No. 124 is the little house at the left in the picture of the missing building--the one that still has that aluminum awning over the door.

  7. I'm loving this walking tour already too

  8. A trip to the site has enlightened me. I see that the remaining wall isn't a common wall, but that the house next door simply "depend[s] on it," just like you said. (Row house construction is still new to me.)

    Now that I realize that the house to the east is also missing, and that the downhill house (#124) could have been built at any time, I guess I'm ready to ask the question I should have asked to begin with:

    Does an inventory exist of those structures which predate the Proprietors? (Those "entrepreneurs [who] came up the Hudson River in 1783 to find a safe harbor ..." Byrne Fone, p. 15).