On the Hudson River waterfront near the popular boat launch and docks lies a strange building. I never quite understood the building's purpose or why it stood there. Was it abandoned? Was part of it functional? I hadn't the faintest idea. What stood out was the red fading letters that read "Hilton". In my mind I was extremely confused. Hiltons were usually hotels, what was the relationship between the prestigious Hilton and this run down building.
It turns out that the Hilton Center, the actual name of the mysterious building, is a historic mill that was built in the 19th century. Being a history fanatic, I found it very interesting that this mill was constructed so long ago and slipped right under my detection. I had absolutely no idea that it existed, and I'm not even really sure how I found it. It was formerly known as the Barnet Mill/ Barnet-Shoddy textile mill, named after William Barnet (one of the leading manufacturers in Rensselaer) and the notable Barnet family. William Barney and Son, Inc was founded in 1898 and had a huge impact on the local economy.
It later became the Hilton Center and fell into ruin, the owners of the building currently owe taxes on the past three calendar years.
There are many talks on the potential and future of the building. The current owners are in communication with a local brewing company and there is talk that it may be transformed into a brewery. However, more credible sources, The Times Union, reports that there are construction plans to create apartment complexes and shops. This makes more sense considering Rensselaer just erected apartment complexes on an abandoned stretch of land on the waterfront, the former location of a Rensselaer school. It was reported that nearly $200,000 was granted to Rensselaer by the government in environmental planning.
A federal grand jury has investigated and pulled records on the Hilton Center in the spring of 2013 after there was a raid on the building. Their subpoena requested any and all information pertaining to any renovations and construction ventures. It was revealed that the Hilton Center has a history of illegal asbestos removals. Arthur Hilton pleaded guilty in 2004 for removing dozens and dozens of bags of asbestos and in doing so, violated the Clean Air Act. The asbestos bags were dumped by workers on the Massachusetts border, a huge danger to the environment, wildlife and people in the area.
I find this place to be extremely confusing. I explored once in the day time but only a small garage connected to the mill and not the actual building. It confused me because on the opposite end of the mill stood a building that looked like it was in use. There were chairs and tables organized and completely unscathed by graffiti or vandalism. I then went at night time and when taking photos we captured what appeared to be an orb. I've only encountered orb like photos at two or three places in my history of exploring abandoned areas. Another thing I thought was eerie was the fact that a sole light was on in one of the rooms and in another room there was an exit sign that was turned on and bright. Why would there be electricity running through an abandoned building that owed taxes from three consecutive years? Was it left on to deter trespassers and give them the impression that it actually wasn't abandoned? Or was the electricity not turned off for some reason? It wouldn't make any sense for it to be left on. Maybe the electricity company forgot to turn it off? Or if one was superstitious maybe there was some paranormal activity going on that created the flickering lights and electricity to be on. My friend and I were very unnerved by the lights and so we decided not to explore and have yet to explore the inside.
© 2019 Elijah DeVivo