From time to time, I like to check the recent scans at PhotobyGibson.com. It's rare when I'm not rewarded with something of interest. Yesterday, I discovered this 1978 photograph of Mayor Paul J. Colwell and his cabinet, posing together in the Council Chamber at City Hall.
I don't know what constituted the mayor's "cabinet." Perhaps it was the commissioners he appointed. It seems to be the right number for that. Except for Colwell at the center right, who is recognized because of his portrait which now hangs in the Council Chamber, I have no idea who the people in the picture are. As is often the case, what is interesting to me is what is in the background: in this case, the Henry Ary painting of George Washington, inspired by Gilbert Stuart's 1796 Lansdowne portrait of Washington.
Ary painted his portrait of Washington on spec, sometime between 1841 and 1843, hoping to sell it to the City of Hudson. Gossips has told the story elsewhere of how the Common Council finally voted to buy the painting in December 1845. Of course, in 1845, there was no City Hall. The Council met in a rented room in the building located at 364 Warren Street, and the portrait was installed there. Ten years later, when City Hall (now Hudson Hall) was completed, the portrait was installed there.
In the late 1990s, the City invested $16,866 in restoring Ary's portrait of Washington. The first step in the restoration, according a report from the restorers, which Gossips had a chance to see back in 2012, was removing "surface dirt, grime and a heavy nicotine smoke layer." Back in the day, it seems all the members of the Council smoked, and they smoked during Council meetings. The photograph of Mayor Colwell and his cabinet documents the state of the portrait before its restoration.
COPYRIGHT 2021 CAROLE OSTERINK
Update: Thanks to a real community effort, all but one of the people in the 1978 picture has been identified with certainty.
From left to right: Bob Cooper, Fire Commissioner; Bill Loewenstein, Commissioner of Grants; Mike Lewicki, Sr., Common Council president; Paul J. Colwell, Mayor of Hudson; possibly Mary Perry, Commissioner of Purchases; Mary Frances Francis, Youth Commissioner; Sam Wheeler, Police Commissioner. The mayor's cabinet was, as I suspected, made up primarily of the commissioners he appointed.