Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Fate of a Remarkable Building

This building, with its curved wall, which stood at the junction of Columbia, State, and Green streets, has always fascinated me. 

According to an article that appeared in the Chatham Courier on February 20, 1964, celebrating 150 years of the Gifford-Wood Company, which was located in this building for almost a hundred of those years, the building was constructed in 1814 for the Columbia Furnace Company, which made agricultural implements as well as furnaces. Elihu Gifford, father of Hudson River School painter Sanford Gifford, purchased an interest in the company in 1823 and changed the name of the company to E. Gifford & Sons in 1856. 

In 1905, the company, then owned by Malcolm and Arthur Gifford, the grandsons of Elihu, and known as Gifford Brothers, merged with William T. Wood & Company of Arlington, Massachusetts, to form the Gifford-Wood Company. Six years later, Gifford-Wood moved to a new building on the south side of town, in an area then known as Second Hill, and the remarkable semi-circular building was put to different uses. Soon after Gifford-Wood moved out, the ground floor became the showroom for William Petry's automobile business. 

I learned not long ago that the last occupant of the building was Pitcher Accessories, which sold automotive supplies. These photographs, by Howard Gibson, discovered in the Photo by Gibson collection, reveal that it was the location of Pitcher Accessories at least as early as the 1940s. The building appears in the background of each of these pictures of a firefighters' parade that took place in Hudson in 1945.

Regrettably, the building, then 155 years old, was destroyed in a spectacular fire on November 20, 1969. The next day, this account of the conflagration appeared in the Albany Times-Union.


Today, of course, the Speedway gas station occupies the site where this extraordinary building once stood.


  1. A pity. It was a handsome building.

  2. Looks like it was inspired by the Coliseum.

  3. It behooves me how our collective sense of athestics tumbled to such lows. Form and function in sync and the final outcomes taken very seriously. Replacing grand buildings with the cheapest, ugliest gas stations. Corporate strangulation of communities. An Omen of its time.