Why Albany Can’t Have Nice Things; Lions Have An Albany Hudson-Fulton Celebration Past

The town of Williamstown, Massachusetts is currently restoring some artifacts from a pretty much forgotten celebration of two important events in New York State history.

In the fall of 1909, various activities took place from New York City up to Albany to commemorate Hendrick Hudson’s 1609 trip up the river that would come to bear his name, and also the 1809 steamboat trip on the river by Robert Fulton’s Clermont.
In connection with the Hudson-Fulton Celebration, several sculptures were positioned at the top of State Street hill in Albany, on the eastern side of the Capitol building. A statue of Hendrick Hudson stood at a vantage point above the river, with a lion on either side of him. Made of plaster of paris, they were presumably the molds for bronze statues whose whereabouts have been lost to history.


After the celebrations were over, the Albany statues were moved inside the Capitol, where they were on display with the battle flags and other artifacts from the Civil War. There, they greeted visitors for some 40 years. Then, in 1954, Hudson and his lions, along with statues of Christopher Columbus and Sir Walter Raleigh were unceremoniously removed. Some renovations were being undertaken in the Capitol, and the State Budget Division found it a convenient excuse to dispose of the five statues.

A contract was given to Daniel A. Lanzetta, who owned a marble works in Albany, for some of the renovation work and it included the removal of five statutes. The pieces were hauled to Lanzetta’s business, located on South Pearl Street, where they were to be destroyed. “We aren’t to bring them back,” said Lanzetta, quoted in the Knickerbocker News on March 31, 1954. “They’re to be destroyed. The state doesn’t want them any more.” Lanzetta did offer to give any of the items away, so long as the takers would bear the cost of their transportation.

During the move from the Capitol, Hudson’s head had become separated from his body, adding to the indignity of the occasion. Newspapers reported, however, that re-attaching the head (which was reported to be sitting in a bird bath at Lanzetta’s) could be easily accomplished. A sixth sculpture, of an Albany soldier who had been killed in World War I, was treated with more honor, and was moved to a different spot in the Capitol.

Some complaints were raised, especially by David Lithgow, who had sculpted the statue of the soldier, who claimed that one of the pieces of artwork had been created by noted sculptor Daniel Chester French. (If any of the pieces were the handiwork of French, it must have been either Columbus or Raleigh, since Albany resident, Miriam Clausen, came forward to say that her uncle, Charles Lewis Hinton, had created the Hudson piece — and, one might suspect — also the lions.) Lithgow faulted “ignorant politicians” for the travesty. He asked the Knickerbocker News: “Don’t they know it’s important to keep a link with the past?” The Budget Division said that the State Historian and the State Librarian had indicated they had little knowledge of the statues’ provenances, and had doubted their historical significance. The State Museum claimed they’d not been consulted about the removal of the artwork, but also said they had no use for them.

Though the mayor of the city of Hudson made inquiries about obtaining the decapitated Hudson figure, it is uncertain what became of it, and what happened to the Columbus and Raleigh pieces. As for the lions, despite a plea made by the Albany Lions Club to Governor Thomas E. Dewey, they stayed at Lanzetta’s. There — though spared from immediate destruction — they stood for a decade beneath a canopy, where they were only minimally protected from the ravages of Albany’s winter weather.
Somehow, a man named Albert Bachand became aware of their existence. The lions, he thought, would make impressive decorations for a mobile home park he had built in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Bachand’s park, called The Spruces, was not quite your average trailer park: its features included, for example, an ornamental pool with spouting fountains that made singing noises.
About 1965, Bachand purchased the lions from Lanzetta and had them transported to his park, where, standing atop platforms supported by pillars, they graced the entrance. One lion suffered damage during the move, and Bachand had to use a quarter-ton of cement to effect repairs.

In 2011, Hurricane Irene sent the Hoosic River over its banks, and the flooding wreaked terrific damage to most of the mobile homes, forcing the relocation of many residents. Eventually, the town purchased the property via disaster funding. Though the park belongs to history now, the lions — which through the years have become local landmarks — will remain on guard at their stations, restored to their original leonine stateliness.

Author note: it is an unusual coincidence, but Hendrick Hudson’s lions were not the only pair that were relocated from Albany to Williamstown. A pair of stone lions that had graced the Ezra Parmalee Prentice mansion at the south end of Albany also made the trip. They were taken from Prentice’s Mount Hope estate to his Mount Hope Farm, located on Green River Road in Williamstown, probably sometime in the late 1920s or 1930s. In 1962, the Prentice lions, reportedly made of stone rather than plaster, were boxed up and trucked to another Prentice family farm, operated by American Breeders Service near Madison, Wisconsin.

Friends note: Part of the Patroon’s Van Rensselaer Manor made its way to a fraternity house in Williamstown circa 1900.

by David Fiske from the New York History blog http://newyorkhistoryblog.org

The First Half Moon Replica and the Albany Hudson-Fulton Celebration of 1909

In fall 1909 there was a huge celebration in New York State, from New York City up the Hudson Valley to Troy and Cohoes to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the Hudson River and the 100th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s invention of the steamboat.


The Celebration was authorized by the NYS Legislature and almost a million dollars budgeted. It had several purposes. The first was to show off; to market the coming of age of New York State, and New York City in particular – we wanted the world to take notice of what an economic and cultural powerhouse we had become. The second was a bit more nuanced. During the last part of the previous century New York State , especially New York City and the towns and cities along the Hudson, had been flooded with immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. The event was to be a great lesson in the history and development of the Empire State, and would provide instruction for the “foreign-born population who may not be as attuned to our successes as the “native population.” It was showcase for American national identity and pride.

It  was designed to be a glorious excess of history, patriotism and pageantry, so over the top that no one could ignore. The Albany event included several parades, religious services, fireworks, ceremonies, concerts, speeches and historical exhibits. Commemorative medals were struck and a special U.S. postage stamp issued. Albany participated with gusto. it was awash in festivities, public and private. Patriotic bunting in red, white and blue festooned every building in Downtown, and when it looked like there was no more room, more bunting was added. Some buildings were outlined with electric incandescent lights. Over 70,000 visitors thronged the City. Business boomed for hotels, restaurants and merchants.



zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz17814555_1281455108569415_34704850139630384_oThe centerpiece of the celebration was a naval parade, including the Hudson River Navigation Co. and People’s Line Dayliners and Night Boats, private yachts, military torpedo boats, tugs, a U.S. Coast Guard revenue cutter – almost anything that could float its way from the City up the River. There were ships from England, Germany and France.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz17814475_1281456765235916_3457799But the stars of the flotilla were two replica ships. One, a replica of Robert Fulton’s “Clermont”, the first successful steamboat in the world. The naval parade traveled from New York City to Albany and then to Troy, paying homage to the first Clermont trip from New York City to Albany in 1807.


zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz17795785_1281456868569239_4696420318525311707_nThe other was the first replica of the “Half Moon”, the ship in which Hudson traveled up the River to discover Albany in 1609. (Yes, there was another Half Moon replica before that with which we are familiar today.) While the Clermont was a wonderful model, constructed by the Staten Island Shipbuilding Co., the Half Moon was special.


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zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz17458269_1281458525235740_78885661024576745When the naval parade sailed to Albany it landed at Riverside Park. The small park was located just below Madison Ave., overlooking the River near Westerlo St. It was built in 1903 to serve the immigrant (mostly Jewish and Italian) populations crammed in tenement houses overflowing the South End. For the Celebration, a temporary triumphal arch was constructed and the crews of the Half Moon and Clermont were greeted with great pomp and circumstance. From there, the major parade of the event wound its way through the South End, past the Governor’s Mansion, and up and over to Arbor Hill and then down to Clinton Ave., across N. Pearl and up to Washington Ave. by the Capitol. After visiting Albany the naval parade proceeded to Troy, where the festivities continued there and into Cohoes.


The Hudson Fulton celebration was declared a resounding a success. Over 50 years later, my Gram still had vivid memories: a brilliant city wrapped in electric lights; the flotilla sailing up the River; astonishment that such a small boat as the Half Moon could have carried men across the Atlantic; large crowds thronging the streets, magical parade floats and standing on the Capitol steps with thousands of other Albany school children as part of the ceremonies.

But now we come to the sad part. Or what we call “why we can’t have nice things”

The replica of the Clermont was purchased by the Hudson River Navigation Co., owners of the “Day Line”, and initially moored as an attraction in New York harbor. It was then moved by the company to Poughkeepsie to be an upstate floating museum of sorts. Over time the fortunes of the company declined; there was one more move to Kingston Point to the picnic grounds owned by the Day Line and finally the Clermont was sold for scrap in the mid-1930s.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz17522833_1281463308568595_5806845155715114619_nThe story of Half Moon is similar. After the Celebration, the Half Moon was towed to Palisades Interstate Park near Bear Mountain, and moored in the Popolopen Creek as a tourist attraction. From there she went to Roundout Point near Kingston. At the behest of the Mayor of Cohoes, she traveled farther upriver. A small area called East Side Park was created just south of the Van Schaick Mansion (about near the area where Hudson finally gave up his search for a Northwest Passage).. Attempts to raise funds for her preservation were unsuccessful, there were few visitors, and she was beset by vandals and fires. The Half Moon became a “lonely hulk” and was finally destroyed by fire in 1932







Copyright 2021 Julie O’Connor