Woodward & Hill, Albany’s actual oldest business

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Here’s our final Hoxsie entry from the endlessly fascinating Biggert Collection of Architectural Vignettes on Commercial Stationery, courtesy of Columbia University. This receipt from 1884 features a lovely rendition of their building at Broadway and Hamilton, and details the sale of a dozen salt rollers (?) to a George W. Clark of Salisbury, Connecticut; the articles were to travel by railroad to Rhinebeck, thence by “CtW” (Connecticut Western) railroad to Salisbury.

Amasa Parker, in his “Landmarks of Albany County,” informs us that John Woodward became prominent m the business circles of Albany because of his connection with the saddlery and harness business of Woodward & Hill. “This business was founded by Nathaniel Wright in 1819 and consequently is the third oldest established business in the city. In 1860 John Woodward together with Mr. W. W. Hill
bought the business from Mr. Wright and carried it on under the firm name of Woodward & Hill. . .  In 1888 Mr. Hill died and John and [son] Walter M. Woodward succeeded to the ownership of the business. In 1895, after his father’s death. Walter M. Woodward succeeded to the business and now conducts it under the original name of Woodward & Hill.” Well, guess what that means? It means I was wrong. By a lot.

A few months back I undertook to determine the oldest business in Albany, and came to the reasoned conclusion that Lodge’s store, often noted as the oldest store in the city, might also be its oldest business, having been established around 1848. But that was nearly 30 years after Woodward & Hill began selling carriages and saddles, hardware and trimmings. The carriages and saddles are gone, but The Woodward Company still sells hardware (fasteners, to be precise) from its location on Burdick Drive, off Sand Creek Road right near Corporate Woods. Sorry to have been so wrong, and delighted to have found a company that has continued in business here for nearly 193 years.

2018 update:

A friend of Hoxsie passes along this interesting tidbit about William Hill, who wrote an article in Forest & Stream in 1874:

William W. Hill wrote this 1874 article in Forest & Stream about travelling into the No 4 area of the John Brown’s tract, and traveling eastward into the remote Beaver River and Stillwater area. Over the following four years, he would return to Fenton’s (No. 4) and the Beaver River area to collect a large collection of butterflies to document the species from the Adirondack region. A report on his collection was included in the Annual State report on the progress of the Adirondack survey by Verplanck Colvin. Colvin was a pallbearer at Hill’s funeral in 1888. He owned a saddlery and carriage business with his brother-in-law in Albany, which passed to his children upon his death. His children donated his butterfly collection to the NYS museum.

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