Friday, May 4, 2012

Jane's Walk: Site 4

This grand Federal style house at 216-220 Warren Street was originally built, probably in the last decade of the 18th century, for Thomas Jenkins, who is believed to have been the richest of the original Proprietors. It was Thomas who, with his brother Seth, set out from Nantucket in 1783 to find a safe harbor for their vessels and those of other seafaring men from New England and found and purchased Claverack Landing. Tradition has it that, in the good Quaker community that was early Hudson, Thomas Jenkins was considered to be "somewhat aristocratic" and was roundly criticized for the ostentation of his palatial home.   

In her Colonial Restoration and Old Upper Hudson Walking Tours, first published in 1984, Mrs. Granvil Hills tells us that "the house was later divided into 2 dwellings." It is definitely two dwellings today, but it is not entirely clear when the division happened. In 1848, more than half a century after it was built, the house became a school for young ladies. What Anna Bradbury has to say about the school in her History of the City of Hudson suggests that it had already been divided at that point. 
In 1848 the Misses Peake established a "Young Ladies Seminary," that for more than thirty years attracted the patronage of the best people of the city and vicinity. It was located at Number 216 Warren street with a fine schoolroom in the adjoining dwelling. Miss Elizabeth Peake, the head of the institution, was a person of superior mind and culture, and was the author of two very excellent books, one "Pen Pictures of Europe," and the other a "History of the German Emperors," which necessitated research in the great libraries of Germany, and exhibited great ability.
In 1881, George Power, who owned the New York and Hudson Steamboat Company, the Hudson and Athens Ferry, and the Hudson and Catskill Ferry, moved from 400 State Street, where he had lived since 1865, to this house. Power was probably, in his time, one of the richest men in Hudson, and, according to the 1880 census, his household consisted of six adults besides himself--his wife, Adeline; four grown children, Emily (40), Ada (24), Kate (22), and Frank (18); and his widowed sister Mary Gaul--so it's hard to imagine that he would move from a building of such considerable size to half a house on Warren Street.

Power seemed to have had a curious penchant--perhaps because there were so many women in his household--for living in buildings that had been occupied by schools for young women. Before he bought 400 State Street and made it his home, the building had been the Reverend J. B. Hague's Hudson Female Academy, and he moved to this house on Warren Street soon after it ceased being the Misses Peake's Young Ladies Seminary.  

In 1894, all or part of 216-220 Warren Street became the Howard Hotel, and so it remained until 1944.  


Some time after the Howard Hotel closed in 1944, the building where Savoia is now located was added, and a bar opened there named for Hudson's most notorious home-based industry.   

The building that started out as the grandest house in Hudson went through hard times in the 1980s and 1990s, but today, at more than two hundred years of age, it survives and thrives, although clearly as two separate and distinct parts. 

The "For Sale" notice appeared in the Hudson Evening Register for June 26, 1944. The picture of the the Tainted Lady Lounge sign was borrowed from Lisa Durfee's blog that bears the name. The picture of the building in the early 1990s was taken by Byrne Fone.   


  1. It's been my understanding this building was originally designed in the Georgian style. It would have had a large front door opening into a large hall with a staircase and landings hugging its perimeter.
    Shortly after that the Federal doorways were added when the mansion was divided in two.
    It has always reminded me of the Governors Mansion in Williamsburg, Virginia.

  2. Before it was the Tainted Lady it was the Rooster Room. Tended bar there when I was too short to see over the bar. Had to stand on a soda box. Painted my first wooden boat in the garage when I was twelve and I'm still channeling Jenkins...

  3. My Grandmother Rose Porreca lived at the 220 side from the late 40's until her death in 1966. We lived on the second floor, my grandmother on the first and my aunt from my mother's side on the 3rd floor in the 50's and 60's. My Uncle Charlie Porreca took back ownership of the building when Rose died. It was quite a house with large brick ovens in the basement. the right side of the building was always a garden of some type. My grandmother always had a garden full of tomatoes and raised chickens in the back. I have fond memories of that building.

  4. My Uncle Charlie Porreca bought the 220 building sometime in the late 40's and gave it to my grandmother Rose. She lived in the first floor apartment until she died in 1966. She raised chickens and always had a garden on the right side of the building. In the fall the chestnuts from the Kostek's tree would fall in the yard. There were old brick ovens in the basement. Our second floor apartment was huge, three bedrooms but a nice size kitchen, gigantic dining room, nice size living room. It was a great place to live. And the view was great until they knocked down the General Worth Hotel. Joe Potts ran the Howard, his wife Mary just died at 102 years old.