Saturday, September 3, 2016

Before the Era of the Automobile

I found this little item in the Hudson Daily Register for October 21, 1889, and I couldn't resist sharing it.

This picture, found among the photographs Byrne Fone assembled for this book Historic Hudson: An Architectural Portrait, shows West Court Street as it would have appeared in 1889.

The house that now stands at 39 West Court Street is missing; it was not built until 1894-1895. The last house on Allen Street, which appears dead ahead in this picture, was in 1889 the home of Casper P. Collier, Esq. The house was demolished sometime in the late 1970s or very early 1980s, and the parking lot for the courthouse has taken its place, but in the 1930s the house was photographed by Walker Evans.

Walker Evans Archive|Metropolitan Museum of Art
Addendum: Since I published this post yesterday, several readers have provided, in comments and in emails, information about the house that once stood at 363 Allen Street. It turns out that the possible dates I gave for its demise were off by a decade. Up until at least 1974, the Columbia County Department of Health was located in the house, before that department moved to the Charles Williams School (now the Second Ward Foundation). A reader who lives in sight of this house told me it was still standing when he moved here in 1978. He shared these recollections about the house and its demolition: "[It] had become decrepit, but was taken down surreptitiously (presumably by the county) on a Saturday so that no one could file an official objection. It was rumored that someone had access and removed some of the architectural details before the demolition, but I don't know if that's true. I remember discussing the demolition with our neighbor Raymond Kennedy (then owner of the Register-Star newspaper), who told me that he had flown to Washington, D.C., that Saturday for a dinner and, returning from the county airport late that night, he rounded the corner from Union Street onto West Court and thought he had died because there was nothing but a void in front of him where that house had stood all his life; he was very shaken."


  1. The building / house you are referencing in the above was the adopted home of the Columbia County Health Department for many years up through the mid-70's. As is the case with most buildings used by the County for official business, it fell in to disrepair and was actually in danger of collapsing when the Health Department moved to the old Charles Williams school in the mid to late 70s. It was demolished sometime after that.