This is 260 Warren Street--on the northwest corner of Warren and Third. This building has belonged to Eric Galloway's "Hudson Preservation Group" for several years now, and Kevin Walker has appeared before the Historic Preservation Commission a few times trying to get a certificate of appropriateness for various alterations that Galloway wants to make to the building. These repeated appearances have yielded some memorable moments--the most memorable of which I will share.
Early on, Walker presented a plan that involved removing the original marble piers and thresholds and replacing them with new marble, explaining that "the owner doesn't like old things"--a remarkable statement to make about the man who heads up something called the "Hudson Preservation Group." The HPC followed their mandate and did not approve the arbitrary removal of authentic architectural fabric.
The French doors on the facade of the building have been an issue from the beginning. They are an original feature of the building and one of its distinguishing characteristics. Back in the 1930s--when this picture was taken--the building was a pub, and, before the days of air conditioning, the French doors would be opened to provide cross ventilation in warm weather. It's interesting to note that just last year, the HPC approved the installation of similar doors at 609 Warren Street so that the dining space at Le Gamin could, in fine weather, flow out onto the sidewalk.
Although the HPC had not approved the action, the French doors at 260 Warren were removed three or four years ago. After the fact Walker assured the commission that the doors were safe inside the building and would remain there. A few weeks after Walker made that statement, I was driving down Warren Street in the early morning and saw the doors being loaded into a pickup truck. Alarmed, I decided to follow the truck and see where the doors were going, so I parked a little farther down the street and watched the truck in my rearview mirror. I had my alderman card at the ready, hoping it was sufficient to empower me to act on behalf of the City and claim the doors, in the name of Hudson, historic preservation, and all things holy, if--God forbid--they were on their way to be dumped.
My surveillance didn't last long. Soon the truck pulled out and drove past me. I followed at a reasonable distance. My "tail" didn't last long either. The truck, as it turned out, was heading to Galloway's warehouse on North Seventh Street, just off State. As the truck approached, the warehouse doors opened, and I--passing as slowly as I dared--strained to see if I could spot the columns from the Brousseau Building inside. I couldn't, but there was a lot of other stuff in there.
At one point during the extended HPC review, Walker tried to coerce the commission by saying that if they wouldn't approve the plans, he would just leave the building--located at the principal gateway to Hudson's commercial district--in its current boarded-up state. In recent months, however, agreement has been reached. Instead of replacing the French doors with stationary plateglass display windows, which is what he wanted to do, Galloway has agreed to create and install new doors that are almost but not quite like the original doors but won't open. Walker has also promised to put the original doors in the building so that some future owner can--if desired--restore and reinstall them.
Reviewing the design for the new doors, Marilyn Kaplan, the architect member of the commission, asked an obvious question: "Why design new doors that are just a little bit different from the original doors instead of just replicating the original doors or restoring them?" Walker's answer: "The owner doesn't like those doors."