Standing at 501 Union Street is a large Second Empire-style brick building constructed c. 1864 by John T. Haviland, a local shipping merchant. The sizeable square structure was most likely one of the earliest apartment buildings to be erected in the city. From 1883 to 1896, the building served as Hudson's first Home for the Aged.
About 1864, John T. Haviland, a Hudson commission agent and shipping merchant, built on his large lot at the southeast corner of Union and Fifth Streets a square three-and-one-half story brick building in the Second Empire style, the most prominent feature of which was a slate mansard roof with dormer windows and chimneys with decorative brickwork. Presumably from the time it was built, the structure contained a commercial establishment on the first floor and apartments on the upper levels.
From 1872 until at least 1878, Haviland, formerly a commission agent working in partnership with William H. Clark, maintained a shop on the first level of the building, initially as a wholesale shipping merchant and later as a wholesale grocer.
Architectural evidence suggests that when the building was constructed in the 1860s, the second, third, and mansard roof levels each contained one large apartment. In the twentieth century, the apartments were divided into smaller units that underwent numerous modifications. Today, the staircases located at the front and back of the building are used to access the apartments; however, in the nineteenth century, only the front staircase was for the use of residents while the back staircase, accessed by a door on the west elevation, was used strictly by the servants of the families who occupied the apartments.
From 1883 to 1896, the Home for the Aged, which was incorporated on May 10, 1883, rented the building as a temporary residence before acquiring its permanent home located at the intersection of South Seventh and Union Streets. When established, the Home for the Aged was the only charitable institution in the State of New York to bear that title. After arrangements had been made to rent the building at the southeast corner of Union and Fifth Streets, the organization made a public appeal for furnishings, which resulted in a steady flow of donated items including Brussels and Wilton carpeting and straw matting to cover the floors of the residents' rooms.
After the Home for the Aged vacated 501 Union Street, the property served once again as an apartment building.
The period image is the cover illustration from Decennial Souvenir, 1893: Home for the Aged, Hudson, New York, and shows the building as it appeared toward the end of the 19th century.