Friday, August 7, 2015

House History and House Mystery

Last summer, the kitchen addition at the Dr. Oliver Bronson House, built toward the end of the 19th century, was removed, and this summer, work is underway to restore the south wall of the house, where the addition had been. 

Yesterday, Peter Watson, A. J. Davis scholar and a member of Historic Hudson's Bronson House Committee, reported an intriguing discovery. The crew at work on the house discovered a small piece of beaded, tongue-and-groove wainscoting on the ground outside the south bay of the 1849 A.J. Davis addition, which bore the inscription, in pencil: "Wm. J. Ludlow Hudson Columbia April 18 NY."

Identical wainscoting is found on the interior wall of the bay, below the windows, so the presumption is that this piece was dislodged during the ongoing work on the foundation in this area of the building.

Watson researched William J. Ludlow and found him in the 1870 census records for the City of Hudson, listed as the 36-year-old head of a household consisting of his wife, Harriet M., and two children, Emma and Frank S. His "profession, occupation, or trade" is given is "House Carpentry."

Annoyingly, the pencil inscription on the fragment gives the month and day but not the year, and this raises a question. Did Ludlow, as a 15- or 16-year-old working as a carpenter, take it upon himself to write his name on the wainscoting he was installing for the Bronsons in 1849, or is the wainscoting, as Watson suggests, an interior alteration that was installed in the 1860s or 1870s when the house was owned by the Folgers or the Phoenix family? 


No comments:

Post a Comment