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Next Exit History - Hudson! for May 3

By Liz Murphy Destination Hudson Published: May 3, 2017 12:03 AM
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Quite a few folks still living in Hudson have memories of living in Evamere Hall and its Gatehouse. After James W. Ellsworth died in 1925, the entire estate, stretching from Franklin Street to Stow Road and south beyond what is now Victoria Parkway, became part of Western Reserve Academy. I spoke with Hudson native Martha Marsh, who lived in Evamere Hall from the early 1940s until she got married in the early 50s. At that time the mansion was being used as housing for WRA staff, and both her father and grandfather worked for WRA - her father on the Academy farm and her grandfather as a night watchman. She and her family lived on the third floor, and she believes that their living room was originally Lincoln Ellsworth's bedroom.

Matha remembers WRA kitchen help living in rooms during the week and going home on weekends. Eventually Martha's family moved to the first floor so her father could operate the boiler (it had to be a licensed fireman). They discovered wine remaining in the wine cellar at that time.

I talked to a former Hudsonite who was 8 years old when Evamere Hall was torn down in 1951. I'm not going to name him, just in case there might be delayed repercussions over the cache of envelopes he found in the deserted clocktower on the property. The stamps from the late 1800s and early 1900s added tremendously to his collection. As he says, "it was the 1950s, it was an empty building. What 8-year-old boy would NOT go in to see what was inside?" He also remembers seeing a collection of mechanical musical instruments (player pianos and organs and one that could be put over the keyboard of an existing piano) being thrown out of the hayloft of the barn during the demolition.

When the Hall and barns were demolished, the Gatehouse was sold to neighbor Marjorie Harbaugh, who used it as a rental property. In the summer of 1952, Homer Cross (now a resident at the Hudson Gables) moved in with his new wife, Irene. Their daughter Judy sent me some wonderful pictures of many lively parties they had with Hudson friends while in residence. Homer remembers the brick floor on the first floor as a positive highlight of the space (perhaps because it was so good for dancing during the parties) but Nancy Renner, whose husband, Jack, bought it as a bachelor pad in the mid-50s shortly before they met, said the floor was awful it sweated and oozed in all weather.

Luckily, in addition to being a lawyer, Jack was an accomplished carpenter and handyman, and the two of them spent every evening working on the house, while they lived temporarily in the first Surrey Apartment, just constructed on Bard Drive. Their first effort was to dig out as much of the first floor as they could to increase the height of the room and make it less "squashed and dark." Jack designed the first additions to the Gatehouse, and according to an article by Tom Vince, "Jack's respect for the original English cottage architecture led him to carefully design seamless additions to the Ellsworth structure. Eventually, a much larger addition to the rear of the house was added in 1990."

As they were doing the original renovations, Nancy remembers that the Town Council demanded they move the house back 60 feet and paint it white, to conform with the Village codes at the time. Happily, Jack was able to successfully squash this effort, and this delightful landmark remains where it originally stood.

I would like to stress that while I do my best to pass along historically correct information, I collect information from many different sources. Sometimes I'm dealing with unverified sources and people's memories. Please be forgiving, and if there is an error, I would be happy to hear from you at lizmdestinationhudson@gmail.com.

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