Saturday, January 22, 2022

A Story Behind a Name

The building at North Third and Robinson streets that is now Second Ward Foundation was constructed in 1924 as a neighborhood elementary school and dedicated in September of that year as Charles S. Williams Memorial School, named for the late superintendent of the Hudson Public Schools. 

The name Charles Williams now survives only as the name of the park down the hill on Mill Street, which originally served as a playing field for the school.

Today, while perusing the Columbia Republican from a hundred years ago, I came upon this account of a memorial service for Charles S. Williams that took place on January 20, 1922, at Hudson High School. 

In 1922, Hudson High School was located at 401 State Street, a building that was constructed in 1915 and dedicated as Hudson High School at the beginning of 1916. The auditorium where the memorial service took place is now the meeting chamber for the Columbia County Board of Supervisors.



  1. 401 State was my Jr.High (7th & 8th grades), my High School was Montgomery C. Smith. My elementary was 6th Street School (PreK - 4th) then 4th St School (5th & 6th). Never attended Charles Williams, although my dad worked there when it was the Health Dept.

  2. The HCSD is now down to just two buildings. I am going to have to top my buddy Bruce though with all the schools I attended in Hudson. Kindergarten in one of the old orphanage buildings behind the old Hudson Area Library, 6th Street School, John L. Edwards, 4 th Street School & 401 State St. building (Hudson Jr. High), Montgomery C. Smith (the old high school) and finally the new Hudson High School. 7 buildings in 12 years. Lets not leave out the other schools used back then, the Allen St School, Greenport, Claverack, Stottville school buildings as well as the West Taghkanic two room school house.

    1. Bob is just a little younger than I. He was "lucky" to have hit the old and the new schools. I missed John L Edwards, the new high school, and even the new Col-Greene Community College. I went to Athens to Col-Greene before the new campus was built. Also when I entered Hudson High as a freshman, my class was the first to use the "temporary" Annex that was used for years. We didn't even get lockers until well into the school year!

  3. Carole - Thank you for remembering Charles Williams, the man. For those of us who went to that school he was just a building and a field. But it seems history was like that then and is sliding even further away now. I won't go into my usual length about a school luminary of Hudson but it probably not known that Williams and MC Smith were well known to each other and so Smith was a natural follow on to in Hudson in 1922. Williams had been principal of schools in Groton, NY where Smith was raised and was well-known by Smith's father , the "religious leader" of Groton. CW was born on March 30, 1870 in Greene, Monroe City, NY.From Groton he went on to principal and Supt in Livonia, Chatham and then Hudson. He got his BA from Cornell.

  4. The Hudson evening register, on Jan 21, 1922 said this, “we might recite a thousand instances of his service, generally, in and for the community, for individuals, homes, clubs, lodges, organizations, in need of the human touch that humanizes and uplifts; and all were better for the service ungrudgingly given.” Similarly reported on April 17, 1923, MC Smith unveiled a cement tablet to the late Williams at the then high school which was “permanently placed on the rear wall of the auditorium directly over the corridor arch and beneath the first floor balcony. Presented by the class of 1922. I guess and hope it is still there or preserved. But let’s see. It was not certain that the new school would be named after him. There were other candidates and it was briefly not “cool” to name buildings after people but Smith and City leaders prevailed. He empowered Hudson’s children for nearly 18 years….he deserved it. (BTW, Williams was in frequent correspondence with FDR during his Hudson tenure.) Could Hudson have been any luckier with Williams, Smith, Edwards? Doubtful.