This is undoubtedly Eric Galloway's most controversial project: 317 Allen Street. The original house was built for Morgan Jones, a young man who had inherited a fortune from his father's manufactured soap company. Jones had traveled in Europe, and the architecture he saw there shaped his notion of what he wanted his house to look like. The Jacobean and Dutch inspired mansion, which was the young man's fancy of grand house, was designed by Marcus Reynolds. The house, which was completed in 1906, is thought by many to be Reynolds' richest and most successful design. It is also the best documented house in Hudson. All the drawings for the house and grounds, as well as Reynolds' journals and records from the period he was working on the house, are preserved in the Albany Institute of History & Art.
From the early 1980s until less than ten years ago, the house had been the Martin Residence, a nursing home for people with disabilities. A substantial wing had been added to the back of the building to provide rooms for the home's residents.
Eric Galloway purchased the house in 2002 or 2003. During the time he owned it, he did some good things and some very bad things. The good things: He demolished the nursing home wing at the back of the building and eliminated all the linoleum and Formica and other institutional elements that had been imposed on the interior of the house. The bad things require more attention.
The original design for the house and grounds included a horseshoe drive leading to the house’s front entrance, paved with bricks set in a herringbone pattern. The sidewalk was also brick, in the same herringbone pattern. Galloway removed the original drive and reconfigured it, replacing it with a blacktopped space near the street, presumably for parking cars, and a slate walk to the front door. He also removed the brick sidewalk in front of the house and replaced it with slate.
There was a plan to surround the house with a cast-iron fence, similar to the fence at Galloway's own house at 345 Allen Street. To that end, brick pillars were constructed at regular intervals around the main house and the carriage house. At first, there was a problem keeping the pillars straight. They tended to lean slightly in different directions. The problem was eventually solved, but now the pillars are so well anchored that it’s been reported that extreme attempts to remove them have failed. This is unfortunate since the iron fence that the pillars were meant to hold was never installed.
One winter during the time Galloway owned it, the house was not properly prepared for cold weather. Pipes froze, causing extensive damage throughout the house, which had to be repaired by the current owners.
The worst of the bad things Galloway did, in the opinion of many, was to subdivide the property, separating the main house from the carriage house and making the back third of the lot, where once there had been a tennis court, a lawn, and a path leading to a pergola and an overlook, into two building lots. The chronicle of the subdivision of 317 Allen Street and the introduction of two additional houses into the historic fabric of Willard Place is a long story best reserved for Part II of this account.
Note: The illustration above is a photograph of a photocopy of the plan for the grounds of the Morgan Jones House by landscape architects Townsend & Fleming of Buffalo, dated September 1904, which is preserved at the Albany Museum of History & Art.