Monday, October 22, 2012

A History of the C. H. Evans Brewery

The following history of the C. H. Evans Brewery, one of Hudson's foremost businesses in 19th and early 20th centuries, was researched and written by Walter G. Ritchie, Jr., the creator of the blog An Intimate Portrait of Home, who has graciously permitted its publication on The Gossips of Rivertown.

C. H. Evans & Sons Brewery, 1900-1910. Historic Hudson. Rowles Studio Collection.
Shortly after its founding in 1783, the embryonic city of Hudson witnessed the emergence of a number of industries, including shipping, ship building, sail making, rope making, whale and seal fishing, candle making and leather tanning. From an early date, brewing and distilling were also conducted successfully. The first distillery was built in 1785 and two or three others appeared shortly thereafter. [1] In 1786, the Englishman Benjamin Faulkins established Hudson’s earliest brewery, which was followed by the brewing plants of David Coope and Mr. Auchmoody. [2]

George Robinson, the successor to Faulkins, built in 1836 a new brewery and two malt houses, which were purchased in 1856 by Robert W. Evans (1818-1868) and his partner, James L. Phipps. [3] Born in Livingston, Columbia County, Evans removed to Hudson and was engaged in the dry goods business for eighteen years before acquiring Robinson’s brewing plant. [4]

The brewery and malt house, located near the North Bay, occupied approximately three acres of land along Mill Street. A second malt house stood in the northwest corner at the intersection of State and North Second Streets. In addition, Evans and Phipps owned a five-story warehouse at 127 Hudson Street in New York City. [5]

Advertisement for R. H. Evans & Co., Hudson, New York. Hudson City Directory, 1862. 


1873 Atlas Map. The Phipps & Evans Brewery appears in the upper right.
Robert married Harriet E. Wescott and the couple had three children. Cornelius H. Evans (1841-1902), Robert’s only son, became a clerk in the office of the brewery at age nineteen and was made a partner in 1865. [6] 

In 1868, Charles purchased his father’s interest in the brewery and continued the partnership with James L. Phipps under the name Phipps & Evans. After the death of Phipps in 1873, Cornelius took on as partners James H. Gaul and J. H. Phipps, son of his late partner, and the company operated under the name C. H. Evans & Co. In 1878, Cornelius purchased his partners’ interests and became sole owner of the brewery.

C. H. Evans & Co., Hudson, New York. Illustration from The Daily Graphic: New York, December 2, 1887.  



Under Cornelius’s direction, the Evans brewery achieved tremendous success. By 1886, the company produced 550 barrels of ale per day. The firm had agents in Fishkill, Newburg, Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Peekskill and New York City. Evans ale was sold at bars and taverns in Hudson and in other parts of the state, as well as at hotels including the Flammery Hotel at Fishkill Landing and the Vanderbilt House on Forty-Second Street and Lexington Avenue in New York City. The specialty of the Evans brewery was “Indian Pale Ale,” noted for its light color and full-bodied flavor.

In 1864, Cornelius married Imogene Groat of Hudson. He and his wife had two sons, Robert W. Evans (b. 1865) and Cornelius H. Evans, Jr. (1866-1941). [7] Both sons became clerks in their father’s firm in the mid-1880s and were made partners in 1888. Ownership of the company passed to Robert and Cornelius, Jr., after their father’s death in 1902. The brothers continued to operate the brewery successfully until the 1920s, when they were forced to close it due to prohibition.

Standing on the north side of Warren Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets is the imposing two-and-one-half story brick Second Empire-style mansion built in 1870 by Cornelius H. Evans. [8] Evans erected his grand house shortly after acquiring his father’s interest in the brewing plant, which quickly became a thriving and prominent company in Hudson, reputedly producing the finest ales in the northeastern United States.

C. H. Evans Mansion today

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[1] Captain Franklin Ellis, History of Columbia County, New York, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers (Philadelphia, 1878), p. 159.
[2] Stephen B. Miller, Historical Sketches of Hudson (Hudson, New York, 1862), p. 31. See also Ellis, History of Columbia County, New York, p. 159. 
[3] The history of the Evans brewery is discussed in an article on the city of Hudson published in the December 2, 1887, issue of The Daily Graphic: New York, p. 225. Ellis states that the brewery acquired by Robert W. Evans was started by George Robinson about 1820-1822. See Ellis, History of Columbia County, New York, p. 168. 
[4] Henry P. Smith, Columbia County at the End of the Century (Hudson, New York, 1900), vol. II, p. 71.
[5] Ellis, History of Columbia County, New York, p. 168.
[6] Smith, Columbia County at the End of the Century, p. 72.
[7] Smith, Columbia County at the End of the Century, p. 72.
[8] According to Ellis, Evans built his residence on Warren Street in 1870.  See Ellis, History of Columbia County, New York, p. 215.

2 comments:

  1. It's been my understanding that the building pictured, and 420, immediately to the right, a grand Aesthetic Movement Mansion, are The Evans Brothers Houses.

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  2. Dear Vince,

    The Second Empire house at 412-416 Warren Street became the residence of Cornelius H. Evans, Jr., the younger of Cornelius H. Evans's two sons, in 1902, when Cornelius, Sr. passed away. According to the terms of Cornelius H. Evans's will, which I researched, the house and its entire contents were left to Cornelius, Jr.

    A deed recorded at the Office of the Columbia County Clerk shows that Cornelius, Sr. purchased in 1869 two adjacent lots on the northern side of Warren Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets and combined the lots to form the parcel of land on which his house stands. The following year he erected his grand residence, as stated by Captain Franklin Ellis in "History of Columbia County, New York," published in 1878. After thoroughly reading Ellis's history, it became evident to me that he conducted personal interviews with many of the prominent citizens of Hudson who are featured in the biographies in his book and who were, of course, still alive at the time he was writing his history. At the end of Ellis's book is an acknowledgements section where he expresses gratitude to gentleman such as Cornelius H. Evans for sharing information with him. Since Ellis obtained details about the life of Cornelius H. Evans directly from the source, we can be certain that Cornelius Evans, Sr. erected the amazing Second Empire house and did so in 1870, a date that is confirmed by the year of the deed prepared when Cornelius, Sr. acquired the land on which the house was built.

    I believe that indeed the red brick Queen Anne-style house on the lot to the east of 412-416 Warren Street was built by Cornelius H. Evans for his elder son Robert W. Evans. The 1888 D. G. Beers & Co. atlas of Hudson indicates that 412-416 Warren Street and the lot with the Queen Anne-style house were owned by Cornelius H. Evans, Sr. In the nineteenth century, it was not unusual for a wealthy and successful gentleman to build houses for his children but to retain ownership of the properties. Typically the deeds were eventually signed over to the children.

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