Friday, March 2, 2018

Mark Your Calendars

The Hudson Area Library has announced the next event in the History Room's Local History Series: "The General Worth Hotel: Hudson's Second Grand Home." The talk will be presented by Gary Sheffer on Thursday, March 22, at 6 p.m.

Disappointingly, the press release, which follows, doesn't reveal what Hudson's First Grand Home was, but perhaps we'll find out on March 22.
Many long-time Hudsonians remember the dying days of The General Worth Hotel at 215 Warren Street: the collapsing ceilings, the rotted windows, and the omnipresent pigeons. The glorious life of this once-grand hotel came to an end in 1969, when it was razed after it was deemed a public health and safety hazard--despite the fact that it had been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For more than 100 years, this urban Greek Revival hotel was the cultural and hospitality center of Hudson, with waiters and waitresses speeding across a black-and-white tile floor to serve dinner to patrons, wedding celebrants, and the regulars. Named after Hudson's most famous resident, General William Jenkins Worth (as in Fort Worth, Texas), the hotel was built in 1836-37 when Hudson was a bustling port city. Writer Henry James allegedly arrived for dinner in 1905, "with two ladies and a French poodle." Told the dog was not welcome, he dined elsewhere.
Gary Sheffer played in the derelict hotel as a child, until his grandmother caught him and forbade any further discovery. In fact, he and his siblings were not even allowed to play on the sidewalk in front of the hotel. Prior to its dereliction, Gary’s parents, Kenneth and Rachel Sheffer, held their wedding reception at the hotel as many of their friends and family did. Sheffer will discuss what life was like in the hotel during its glory years. . . . 
Gary Sheffer's parents on their wedding day in front of the General Worth Hotel
Henry James did, indeed, visit the General Worth but was turned away because he and his traveling companions were accompanied by a dog. The experience is recounted in The American Scene. It was a midday meal that he sought, and his companions were Edith and Teddy Wharton. They were on a road trip from Lenox to Albany, when, approaching the Hudson River, they reached "the town that repeats in so minor a key the name of the stream."
The best here, to speak of, was that the motor underwent repair and that its occupants foraged for dinner--finding it indeed excellently at a quiet cook-shop, about the middle of the long-drawn way, after we had encountered coldness at the door of the main hotel by reason of our French poodle. . . .
The talk on March 22 will be followed by a question and answer period and refreshments. For more information, email, call 518 828-1792, ext. 101, or visit the main desk at the library.

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