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Bank of Hudson relic uncovered

Workers renovating the Gwin Law Firm building on the corner of Oak and Second streets in downtown Hudson uncovered a stained glass window on the front of the building for the Bank of Hudson. Photo by Jon Echternacht1 / 3
This stained glass window was preserved behind a lowered ceiling inside and a façade on the outside. It features a carved pine frame. Photo by Jon Echternacht2 / 3
The brand new Hudson Savings Bank is pictured on the corner of Walnut and Second streets in 1870. The downtown area appears to have dirt streets and boardwalks at the time. St. Croix County Historical Society Photo3 / 3

Workers renovating the old Gwin Law Firm building at the southeast corner of Walnut and Second streets in downtown Hudson are blue-collar archeologists of a sort.

They uncovered a very well preserved stained glass window in an ornate wood frame at the front of the structure that carried the name of a former business - Bank of Hudson.

In the Hudson Historical Society book, "Historic Hudson Revisited, An Architectural Tour", the building at 426-430 Second St., constructed 1867-1869 is called the Goss-Boyden Block.

The information said the Goss-Boyden Block was constructed to house the Hudson Savings Bank and Philo Q. Boyden's drugstore. "The block was a typical two-story 19th century commercial design of Milwaukee brick. Alfred Goss (1833-1901) was president of the bank. Boyden (1829-1922), a pioneer druggist in Hudson, was also mayor in 1870-73," the pamphlet reads.

Benson Roofing & Renovations is doing the work for current owners Eckberg Lammers Law Firm. "We have about another week of demo and then will start the build out," said contractor Dennis Johnson.

The window was preserved by previous remodeling efforts. A façade built over the window on the street side protected it from weather and a lowered ceiling protected the stained glass from indoor hazards.

"The original ceiling is 14-feet high," said Johnson. "It was lowered five feet to make a nine-foot ceiling."

Sue A. Sperber, marketing director for the firm, said in an e-mail "It (stained glass) will be restored and will find a home again in the new office space."

Johnson said the law firm expects to move into the remodeled space in October.

Stained glass dating back more than 100 years wasn't the only relic from the past inside the building. Full dimensional 2 inch by 6 inch and 2 inch by 12 inch lumber was secured with quite a number of handmade, square iron spikes that were built to last.

Hudson attorney Hugh H. Gwin, who said his father Hugh F. Gwin and Wendell Petersen bought the building on May 29, 1956, added some historical anecdotes and facts from the abstract of the property.

"It was an office machine store when dad and Wendell Petersen bought the building in 1956," he said in a telephone conversation.

"The lap siding (that covers the stained glass) was an 'improvement' by Fred Jones the resident design architect for Consolidated Lumber at 701 Second St.," Gwin said.

According to the abstract, Alfred J. Goss dba Hudson Savings Bank sold the building to Harold North on March 2, 1897, and it became the Bank of Hudson.

On April 13, 1914, it became the National Bank of Hudson.

Gwin said the bank went under during the Great Depression. The abstract record said the National Bank of Hudson was taken over by the U.S. Treasury Deptartment on March 1, 1934, and the assets were liquidated on Sept. 20, 1936.

Attorney N.O. Varnum bought the building in 1935 and it housed Varnum Law Office.

Attorney Hugh F. Gwin purchased the building from Varnum in 1956.

Eckberg Lammers acquired the building from Hugh H. Gwin in July.