601 Union Street
This archetypal Italianate villa, built in the 1850’s, is an almost exact replica of a house designed by Richard Upjohn for Edward King, which was constructed in Newport, RI in 1845-1847. A. J. Downing included Upjohn’s design in his book The Architecture of Country Houses, which was published in 1850. Downing himself called the villa “one of the most successful specimens of the Italian style in the United States.” Downing’s praise continues: “The exterior of this villa is worthy of note, for the harmony which pervades it. Notwithstanding the great variety of forms in the windows introduced….the predominance of the round arch in the majority of the leading apertures…restores harmony throughout the whole…quite different from that which results from the simplicity of most facades.”
While the original owner is unknown, an early owner was William H. Terry, a prosperous local merchant, who purchased the villa in 1872. His widow, Harriet continued to live there until her death in 1907. The next owners were John Westfield Gillette and his wife Grace Field James. Grace was the niece of Marshall Fields, founder of the Chicago Department Store. She grew up in Williamstown, MA where John attended Williams College. Grace and John met when he rescued her when she had fallen through the ice while skating.
John Gillette worked in New York City for a number of years in publishing and had returned to Hudson to take a position at a company partially founded by his father, the Allen Paper Car Wheel Company. After his death in 1921, Grace Gillette retained the property, but eventually sold the building to the Hudson Lodge of Elks in 1935. The Elks extensively expanded to the rear of the building before moving to a new site on the outskirts of town in 2004.
Preserved inside the villa are 2 elaborate fireplace mantels from what has been described as one of Hudson’s finest Federal period houses, the Captain John Hathaway House, that once stood at 140 Warren Street. They were probably moved here in the early 1900’s, around the time that Hathaway House was converted into a garage.