Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Last Night at City Hall

Dan Udell's videotape of last night's tumultuous Police Committee meeting is now available for viewing online. Click here to watch and listen.


Celebrating Warren Street

The exhibition of The Warren Street Project, by Lynn Davis, opens at Vincent Mulford Antiques, 419 Warren Street, on Saturday, October 1, with a gala reception. After that, the exhibition will be open to the public, every weekend, for the entire month of October.  

Copyright 1996 Lynn Davis
The exhibition of portraits of every building on Warren Street, taken in 1994 and 1995, celebrates Historic Hudson's twenty years of advocacy for Hudson's historic architecture and twenty years of historic preservation and revitalization on Hudson's main street.

Last Thursday, Alan Neumann, president of Historic Hudson, was on WGXC's Thursday Afternoon Show, talking with hosts Ellen Thurston and Tom DePietro about Historic Hudson and the exhibition. If you missed that interview, you can hear it now by clicking here

Something New on Spook Rock Road

On my way out to Holmquest Farm on Sunday afternoon, I noticed a historic marker that hadn't been there before.

Today, I learned on Facebook that the marker is a Legends and Lore Marker, supplied to the Greenport Historical Society through a grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. The marker was dedicated by members of the Greenport Historical Society on September 18.

A Disturbing Night at City Hall

Citizens and off-duty police officers showed up for the Common Council Police Committee meeting on Monday night to protest the resignation of Gary Graziano as police commissioner. Graziano's resignation came after he made an ill-considered statement, expressing a personal opinion, in an official police department press release announcing the arrest of Quintin Cross on the charge of grand larceny.

During the course of last night's meeting, Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) was removed from her position on the Police Committee by Common Council president Claudia DeStefano, presumably for "her inability to be fair and impartial in this committee." Roger Hannigan Gilson reports on the meeting in today's Register-Star: "Garriga booted off police committee."

Monday, September 26, 2016

Another Story from Hudson's Colorful Past

The Hudson Daily Evening Register for October 30, 1889, which provided word on the progress of St. John's Hall, also yielded an account of a bold and enterprising incendiary who seems to have started his career right here in Hudson.

The "Dr. Wardell building," where Abram Rubenstein (a.k.a. Andrew Black, Morris J. Gross, and Isaac Maretzsky) set up shop in Hudson, is this building at 1 Warren Street, which at one time had storefronts facing South Front Street. 


Keeping a Thorny Issue Alive

More than a week after former police commissioner Gary Graziano made an ill-considered statement in an official HPD press release and resigned rather than recant or apologize, and almost a week after Alderman Henry Haddad (Third Ward), who chairs the Common Council Police Committee, expressed his disappointment with Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton for the manner in which the situation was handled, Roger Hannigan Gilson has an article in today's Register-Star in which Haddad pretty much repeats the same opinions he voiced at the Common Council meeting last Tuesday: "Haddad responds to police commissioner's resignation." The article is accompanied by a photograph, similar to the one below, showing the message "We Support Gary" chalked on the sidewalk.

Photo: Kenneth Smith|Facebook
A week ago, Gossips received a letter to the editor from someone who grew up in Hudson and follows the goings-on in Hudson from afar. Since Gossips does not typically publish letters to the editor, I chose not to publish it at the time. Today, I'm thinking differently about it and have decided to publish the letter because, I believe, it puts the issue in the proper perspective.
To the Editor: 
While everyone is entitled to have an opinion and many are entitled to voice it, surely, by now, anyone should know that not everyone is entitled to voice it publicly to reporters, on social media or even within emails. There are almost always regrets or consequences when those words are shared. But why is it so important for police in particular to keep their opinions private?
The way our system of justice works is the police protect and serve. They enforce the laws on the books and when warranted, they arrest those believed to have broken those laws. In so doing, they gather evidence pertinent to the case. The District Attorney then reviews the evidence and determines whether or not it is worthy of a trial and then and only then will a judge or jury determine the guilt or innocence of the arrestee. It is called due process and everyone in the country is entitled to it. When the police, in their official capacity, do not stick to the facts of the case and instead express opinions on the character of people they arrest, prior to due process playing out, they undermine the integrity of their work and bypass due process potentially poisoning the entire population from being eligible jurors. What is most important to understand is even the appearance of partiality is as damning as the real thing. This is why it is imperative for police leadership and all of the force to remain professional and stick to the facts of their cases and keep the opinions for off-duty, off the record discussions.
So in the particular events of last week, the commissioner voiced his personal opinion on the case of an individual who had not been given due process and who happened to be active in Hudson politics and had a past with the police where they had arrested him and he was acquitted. It is at these times when the appearance of impartiality is so essential and this did not happen. Whether or not he will be found guilty, and whether or not he is a friend of the mayor is irrelevant. The remarks were inappropriate for the leader of the police force and are not doing the force or city government any favors at a time when the mayor is trying to rebuild trust within the community.
Simply put, no one has ever lost their job for being professional and had the commissioner kept his remarks so, he’d still be the commissioner. Even if he agreed to rescind them, he would still be the commissioner. Sadly, it is the mayor who is being blamed for not watching the police force’s back, when it was the commissioner who decided his own fate.
Christopher Osswald        

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Manufacturing in Hudson: 1913

Recently, Gossips received photographs (with captions) found in the report of the New York State Factory Investigating Commission for 1913. The Factory Investigating Commission was created by an act of the New York State Legislature on June 30, 1911--just three months after the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire in New York City, which took the lives of 146 young women workers. The commission's charge was "to investigate the conditions under which manufacturing is carried on" in New York. The photographs revealed the working conditions at the Knitting Mills in Hudson.

Carding Room--Owing to the absence of ducts and hoods, the whole room is filled with floss [so] that it is difficult to see.

Drying Room--This room is located in the cellar, and owing to inadequate ventilation the temperature ranges between 120 and 130 degrees

Finishing Room--Shows overcrowded condition of workroom: the aisles are constantly blocked by huge piles of underwear in boxes, making escape in case of fire very difficult.

The Finishing Room--Shows overcrowded condition: great boxes of finished goods obstruct the aisles of exits.
Although the report seems only to identify the company as "Knitting Mills," it is possible to infer that this was the Union Mills, which had two locations in Hudson. It's not clear in which location the Carding Room and Drying Room documented in the report were, but the caption accompanying the first photograph of a Finishing Room indicates it was on Fulton Street. In 1913, the street we now know as Columbia Street was called Fulton Street south of Third Street, and this is the building on Fulton Street that was one of the locations of Union Mills.

This building, which stood on the southwest corner of Columbia and Second streets, burned in a spectacular fire in 1979, long after it ceased to be Union Mills. Providence Hall now stands on that site.

The caption accompanying the second photograph of a Finishing Room indicates it was on Washington Street, which means it was located in this building at the corner of Sixth and Washington streets, now known as the Pocketbook Factory.


Gratitude to Andrew Dolkart and Alan Neumann for passing the photographs from the Factory Investigating Commisssion report along to me.

The Story Behind a Little Item in the News

Gossips, in breaks between pressing news stories, has been perusing the newspapers from 1889 in an attempt to learn about the acquisition and development of Cedar Park Cemetery. Along the way, news items of interest are discovered, such as this one, which appeared in the Hudson Daily Evening Register on October 30, 1889.

St. John's Hall, then the Masonic Lodge, is today the office of Mid-Hudson Media, at the corner of Third and Union streets. One can understand the frustration caused by materials not arriving in a timely manner. The contractor's deadline was set in the terracotta delivered at the end of October, leaving only two months--and increasingly colder months at that--to complete the building.

All seems to have turned out well, however. The building was completed, and it survives today. The contractor, who was undoubtedly John F. X. Brennen, who with his younger brother, Thomas, had formed the firm J. and T. Brennen Co., stonemasons and bricklayers, also flourished. He went on to built such notable buildings as the C. H. Evans Hook & Ladder Company firehouse, the cornerstone for which was laid in December 1889 (another reason for him to want to finish St. John's Hall on schedule),

the original Firemen's Home (1893), 

the first Hudson Hospital building on Prospect Avenue (1900),

and 317 Allen Street (1903). 

In  1894-1895, Brennen, the son of Irish immigrants, built a house himself and his wife, Anna, on the fashionable West Court Street. The house was designed by Michael O'Connor.

When he died in 1926, Brennen was entombed in a mausoleum that bears his name in Cedar Park Cemetery. His wife, Anna, who predeceased him, is also entombed there.


Parking Reminder

Summer is over, and with the end of summer comes the end of the weekend suspension of alternate side of the street parking. Last night was the last night during which it was OK to leave your car parked on either side of the street overnight. Next weekend, we're back to alternate side of the street parking in effect for overnight parking (midnight to 8 a.m.) seven days a week. The only exceptions being the eves of such holidays as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Highlights from the Hudson Bed Races

The day was perfect, the crowd was sizable, and after months and months of planning, the bed races were over in less than thirty minutes. Aside from a few tense moments--when a bed lost a wheel, when two beds careened into each other, when a bed veered toward the spectators lining the sidewalk--a good time was had by all. Going into the race, the word on the street was that the Hudson Sloop Club Viking Bed was the bed to beat. The Sloop Club team performed admirably, but in the end, a late entry called "What Big Eyes You Have," a bed and team inspired by the story of Little Red Riding Hood, won the day. 

Here are some photos of the Hudson Bed Races for 2016.

Beds in Readiness

Former mayor and organizer of the 1980s bed races, Dick Tracy

Beds in Action

The Winning Bed: "What Big Eyes You Have"

Photo: Andy Milford|Facebook

Open House This Afternoon

It was late August 2015 when Colin Stair announced that he had purchased 551 Warren Street. A year later, the interior renovation is complete, and the building will officially open on October 1.

Today, Saturday, September 24, the community is invited to an open house and tour of the building from 3 to 6 p.m. The press release announcing the open house follows:
It was only a year ago that we purchased this historic building and in that time we have renovated 18,000 square feet into contemporary commercial loft and office spaces. This project was conceived with input from the community and was successful thanks to Ferol Barton Blake, who shepherded us through the design process. 551 Warren Street was renovated using local craftsmen, contractors, engineers, plumbers, and electricians. 
The work spaces at 551 Warren Street were designed with local small businesses, entrepreneurs, and agencies in mind. The building is multi-use and includes 7,000 square feet of gallery space, as well as private offices. Included in the rent for each space are utilities--heat, electricity, and high-speed wifi. Mid-Hudson Cable remains a long-term tenant and continues to use 551 Warren as the fiber optic hub of Hudson’s next generation internet. Mid-Hudson Cable’s presence will aid our tenants in receiving the fastest and most reliable internet service.
Our goal during the renovation of 551 Warren Street was to create spaces that were clean and modern, and yet in keeping with the architectural integrity of the building and the city of Hudson. The completed spaces have already begun to attract creators and innovators as tenants. Jennifer Kahrs of Walnut Hill, Exhibition Framing and Fine Art Services, has moved into the ground floor’s front gallery space; Alfons Sutter of Sutter Antiques has expanded his business into the ground floor’s back retail gallery with two Asian galleries; Krystal Heinz, Esq., is opening three offices on the third floor of the building; Paolo Vidali and Akemi Hiatt are opening offices on the fourth floor with Hidden Gears, A Digital Marketing Agency with Web Development and E-Commerce.
For more information or to request a private showing, call (518) 291-8057 or email info@551warren.com.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Hudson Bed Races Return Tomorrow

When last we reported on the Hudson Bed Races, there were seven beds registered for the race. Now there are ten!

This morning, event organizer Rich Volo reported that an eighth bed, Rip Van Dinkle, had entered the race, and this afternoon, there were two more entries: Gen Now 1 and Gen Now 2. 

And there's more last-minute news. Former mayor Dick Tracy (2006-2007), who organized the original Hudson Bed Races in the 1980s when he was director of the Youth Department, will be announcing the beds.

To ensure that you stake out your spot for viewing the races in the right stretch of Warren Street, here's the word on the course. The race begins at Sixth Street and ends in front of City Hall, 520 Warren Street. The races begin at 2 p.m.

Another Zoning Amendment Proposed

In March, a proposal came before the Planning Board to build four town houses on Hudson Avenue, the street that runs south from Union Street in the middle of the block between Fifth and Sixth streets. Hudson Avenue was created in 1907 for the sole purpose of giving access to the then new plant of the Gifford-Word Company. 

Gifford-Wood, c. 1915

Photo: Virginia Martin

The old Gifford-Word building, last used by McGuire Overhead Door, has been vacant for the past ten years, but as a legacy from those days, most of Hudson Avenue is still zoned industrial. Building houses there would require either a use variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals or a change in the zoning.

The project went before the ZBA in March seeking a use variance, but, at the same meeting the ZBA granted a use variance for the hotel to be created at 41 Cross Street, it denied a use variance to this project. Instead, the applicants were advised to petition the Common Council to amend the zoning.

In  August, an amendment to the zoning law that would change the zoning for three parcels on the west side of Hudson Avenue from I-1 (Industrial) to R-S-C (Residential Special Commercial), authored by Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), was introduced in the Legal Committee and forwarded to the full Council. At Tuesday's Common Council meeting, the amendment was placed on the aldermen's desks,  and the Council voted to forward the proposed amendment to the Hudson Planning Board and the Columbia County Planning Department for review.  

Some residents of East Allen Street were present at the meeting on Tuesday to express their concern that the proposed change in zoning would affect the view from their backyards. Given that the proposed change involves only three tax parcels along the west side of Hudson Avenue, totaling just 3 acres, it is unlikely that the change of zoning and the construction of four residential dwellings will have any impact at all on the houses on East Allen Street.


A New Development at 400 State Street

Two weeks ago, all the trees were removed in front of 400 State Street. Yesterday, Gossips noticed that something else was missing: the "Sale Pending" sign over the door.

In  its place is a new sign featuring an engraving, which originally appeared in Rural Repository, showing the building, stark and treeless, as it was when it was the Hudson Lunatic Asylum, from 1830 to 1850.

Does this mean the sale that was pending is pending no more?