Monday, April 2, 2018

Discovering a Building's Original Function

A week ago, after I shared the information that the little building on Prospect Avenue had not started out as the firehouse for Fred W. Jones Hose Company No. 6, a reader suggested a contest in which I challenged readers to identify the original purpose for which various buildings were constructed. Were I to try to structure such a challenge, I should probably save this discovery for that, but some discoveries demand immediate sharing, and this is one of them.

Over the weekend, I was doing some research into the schools that existed in Hudson in the 19th century. A school that I had not previously been especially aware of was the School for Young Ladies operated by the Misses Sarah and Cornelia Skinner. The Skinner sisters started the school in 1867 in their home on Warren Street, but those accommodations soon became inadequate. In 1869, "they had been compelled to refuse several applications for lack of room." To remedy the situation, they built "a fine brick building" on Union Street. Franklin Ellis, in his History of Columbia County, gives the address of the new building as 281 Union Street, but Ellis was writing in 1878, before all the house numbers on the east-west streets in Hudson changed. After a little calculating, I concluded that 281 Union was today 523 Union. This was confirmed by the Water Tap Book, which notes that 523 Union had previously been 281 Union, and the owners of the building in 1877, when it was hooked up to the municipal water supply, were "The Misses Skinner."

This then is the building that was constructed in 1870 as the Misses Skinner's School for Young Ladies, and where, to quote Anna Bradbury in her History of the City of Hudson, "they continued deservedly popular for many years."

Erratum: Although there was evidence to suggest this building was originally the Misses Skinner's School for Young Ladies, it is not. The house itself should have provided a clue. I admit my error and pursue the truth in this post: Getting It Right.  


  1. I would love to know the age bracket of the young ladies schooled here, and the content of the curriculum.

  2. Really interesting. Cornelia must have been a popular name. I have a book by Cornelia Otis Skinner called "Our Hearts were Young and Gay."

    1. Interesting, Cynthia, but wrong. I'm working on a post now that puts things right. (Yes, Cornelia Otis Skinner--I keep running into her searching for this Cornelia on

  3. Very interesting. For those of us who are still fairly new to Hudson do you have a list of the best books or other resources to learn more about Hudson’s history?