Thursday, May 9, 2019

Nine Not to Ignore: No. 6

Gossips once again takes up the list of significant historic buildings at risk in Hudson. Today's building is the sixth in our series Nine Not to Ignore. 

6  501 Union Street

Gossips posted about this building only recently, but a list of important historic buildings in Hudson abandoned and neglected wouldn't be complete without it. 

Hudson can claim a lot of "firsts": the first city in the country to be designed on paper before being built; the first city to be incorporated in the new United States; the first public space--Promenade Hill--set aside for the expressed purpose of viewing the landscape. This building, 501 Union Street, represents another first for Hudson. Believed to have been built around 1864, 501 Union Street is one of the earliest apartment buildings in the United States. The following is from
Nineteeenth-century middle-class Americans preferred a private, multi-story, detached house to a one-level flat in a building shared with strangers. Until the late nineteenth century, multi-unit housing was also tinged by the image of "tenements," multi-unit residences for working class and immigrant families.
Rising costs for urban property after the Civil War prompted builders to market apartments as a respectable alternative to boarding houses. These early apartments were modeled after Parisian apartments and were referred to as "French flats" to distinguish them from tenements. One of the earliest was the 1869 Stuyvesant Apartments on East Eighteenth Street in Manhattan, designed by Paris-trained American architect Richard Morris Hunt.

An article by Sarah Laskow in The Atlantic makes the point that the early apartment buildings, like Stuyvesant Apartments in New York City, needed the right tenants to succeed. It may be that 501 Union Street, once known as "Apartments of Distinction," wasn't attracting the tenants needed for its success, because in 1883 the entire building was rented as the temporary location of the Home for the Aged. It remained the Home for the Aged until 1896.

Gossips' post about this building last month was inspired by photographs sent by a reader showing deterioration in the west wall of the building.

This morning, Gossips got a report of activity at the building, involving workers with ladders. An immediate site visit found workers and ladders, but it wasn't clear at first what they were doing.

Half an hour or so later, the task was obvious. The workers and ladders were there to install a new downspout.

It also appears that the workers removed loose bricks from the crumbling west wall and cleared away the bricks that had fallen to the ground. No measures seem to have been taken to arrest the deterioration. 



  1. One can only hope that the replacement of the downspout and the removal of those bricks is the first step towards stabilization and ultimately restoration/reuse.

  2. Tempest in tea pot #6 gets addressed,repaired and stabilized with love ...