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Next Exit History -- Hudson!

By Liz Murphy Destination Hudson Published: March 22, 2017 12:02 AM
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Perhaps you have wondered about the tall stone wall with a keyhole entrance by the home at the intersection of Hudson and Aurora streets. The wall, and the Gatehouse to which it is attached, are all that remain of the once elaborate Evamere Estate built by James W. Ellsworth and named for his late wife, Eva.

Newly widowed, Ellsworth returned to his hometown from Chicago in 1898, bringing his two young children, Lincoln and Clare. He settled the children with his mother on the Ellsworth family farm and set about upgrading the family home. With some of his fortune, the millionaire industrialist built an elaborate estate, including a house known as Evamere Hall. The estate was modeled after an English country manor, and included geometrical gardens and hedges. Ada Cooper-Miller, long-time Hudson resident who recently died at 111 years of age, came to Hudson from England as an infant when her father, Harry Cooper, was hired as the gardener for the estate. The estate's property stretched east on Aurora from Franklin Street to Stow Road, and included all the land around N. Hayden Parkway, Victoria Parkway and others in that area. The Bi-Centennial Woods park that runs off Victoria down to Stow Road is the last undeveloped parcel of the original estate.

Evamere Hall was owned by Western Reserve Academy (WRA) from the death of James W. Ellsworth in 1925 until its demolition in 1951. For approximately six years in the 1930s the Hudson Country Day School operated in the home, founded by WRA Headmaster Joel B. Hayden and funded by WRA. This was a co-ed private elementary and junior high school, with a girls-only high school. After this closed, Evamere Hall became a residential center, housing faculty and staff of WRA until it was demolished. Several unofficial sources claim the Hall to have been among the top 10 largest homes in the country when it was torn down. I wonder if Hudson Heritage Association had been established at the time, whether Hudson might have its own version of Stan Hywet Hall.

The Tudor Revival gatehouse is the most tangible reminder of the estate, although two Greek Revival houses from the 1830s, 204 and 233 Aurora St., were guest houses on the Ellsworth estate. The stone wall becomes brick as it runs down Aurora Street, extending around part of the original perimeter. Barney Kemter remembers the wall being six feet tall until it was brought down as homes began to be built on the property. Many homeowners along Aurora Street have maintained and even restored their piece of the brick perimeter wall.

More of Hudson's history may be found on your Next Exit History app, www.nextexithistory.com and at www.hudsonheritage.org and www.hiddenhudson.com.


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