Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Serendipity

There is a delightful little book called Mirrored Memories: A Glimpse into the Photographic Collections of the Columbia County Historical Society, which was published in 1991 and may now be out of print. One of the photographs that appears early in the book is this one, showing Zebulon Hunt's Stove Works Store on Warren Street in Hudson.

In the book, the photograph is dated c. 1860s, but this afternoon I stumbled upon a little item in the Daily Star for June 14, 1858, which gives the photograph a much more precise date.

Surely, the photograph that made it into Mirrored Memories is the same one hailed as "one of Forshew's last and best" in the Daily Star. If only the editor of the Star had been more precise in his identification of the people in the picture, perhaps naming them from left to right, although it's unlikely he could have imagined that people 160 years later would be curious to know who these men and boys were. 

The caption indicates that Z. Hunt's stove works store was located at 299 Warren Street. Today, there is no 299 Warren Street, and even if there were, this picture was taken before 1888, when all the house numbers on the west-east streets were changed. I decided, in preparing this post, to figure out which building on Warren Street was the location of Z. Hunt's stove works store in 1858, and I managed to do it without too much difficulty. It is 541 Warren Street.

I came to this conclusion in the following way. Comparing the pre- and post-1888 numbers that I knew, I was able to generalize that, in the 500 block, you could add 240 to the pre-1888 number to get today's number. Doing that, of course, yields 539, and 539 is now a vacant lot--or rather a pocket park. It's not likely, though, that the missing building was Zebulon Hunt's stove works store, because the building to the right in the 1858 photograph is a three-story building, and the building to the right of 539 today, where Mexican Radio is located, is a two-story building.

So the missing building is likely the one that housed S. W. Worth Paints in 1858.

There is also visual evidence that 541 Warren Street was the location of Z. Hunt's store--in particular the spacing of the windows. The three windows are not evenly spaced across the facade. The two at the right are closer together. The third window at the left lines up with the door that gives access to the upper floors, which today has been converted into a window.

Addendum: I consulted the Hudson Tap Book, the record of when every building in Hudson was connected to the municipal water supply. One of the best things about the Tap Book is that it gives both the current building numbers and the pre-1888 numbers. The Tap Book confirms that 541 Warren Street was 299 Warren Street (actually it says 299½, but no 299 is listed), and the building was owned by Z. Hunt when it was hooked up to the water system on May 17, 1875. 


  1. That is most impressive research Carole. I kind of enjoy detective work projects myself. I had a couple of those involving the genesis of weighted voting in our fair city, including taking a trip to Albany to look at Bill Jackets, but I digress. And now I have another one on my plate. Stay tuned. :)

  2. I love your tireless research into the history and how it ties to everyday life in Hudson now. Thank you!

  3. Henry Pratt Skinner (merchant, founder of the First Baptist Church, and the first owner of what is now 314 Warren St., or "adage") was 72 years old in 1858. Nobody looks that age on the left side of the picture, so the old photo likely names the persons from right to left.
    The initials are also likely misspelled. No one fits the name R. P. Skinner in the family at that time.

    1. Those initials actually match those of a lawyer named Rodolphus P Skinner who lived in Hudson at the time.

      Rodolphus was born in 1820, and died in December of 1861 so it helps narrow the date down nicely.