Once upon a time, these five sister houses on the north side of the 600 block of Columbia Street all belonged to Elihu Gifford.
Elihu Gifford, who had come to Hudson in 1823, was the owner of the Gifford Foundry, just up the street. In his day, he was one of the richest, most influential men in Hudson. (It was because of Elihu and his foundry that we have railroad tracks running through Seventh Street Park. They led straight from the waterfront to the Gifford Foundry.)
Elihu and his wife, Eliza Starbuck, lived in this house across the street from the five houses, where there is now a municipal parking lot. In this house, they raised their eleven children--six sons and five daughters.
The five houses were built for five of the six Gifford sons. The corner house was deemed most prestigious and went to the eldest son. Presumably the other houses were assigned to the sons in birth order, from west to east. (Hudson River School painter Sanford Robinson Gifford was the only son who was left out of the plan. The belvedere on Elihu and Eliza's house, however, was built to be Sanford's studio when he was in Hudson.) When the elder Giffords lived on the south side of the street and their male heirs on the north side, this section of Columbia Street became known as Gifford Place.
The Elihu Gifford house was demolished in 1965--the same year that Olana became a National Historic Landmark.