Usually landmarks are demolished for parking lots. . . . This is one of the most popular sports in cities. Urban renewal has drawn its demolition lines around uncounted (has anyone ever counted?) historic buildings and districts. Waterfronts, Federal survivals, Greek Revival enclaves, anything that has meaning in terms of the history, style, or sense of place of American communities is x-ed out first as the oldest, shabbiest, and easiest to demolish. . . .Curiously, the Dairy Queen that was to be the engine of redevelopment in downtown Hudson ended up being built on Green Street, and after decades of being used for different purposes--a pharmacy, part of a car dealership--the building recently returned to its roots and became a local version of a Dairy Queen: Davi's Delights, owned by the last franchise owner of the Dairy Queen. Fortunately, a Burger King was never built in Hudson. That went to Greenport.
In Hudson, New York, the same kind of senseless urban renewal plan claimed the 1837 Greek Revival General Worth Hotel. The Hudson YWCA was willing to take over the building and the Hudson River Valley Commission, the State Historical Trust, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation urged that it be saved. But political heads prevailed and Hudson demolished its National Register property. Ready for the biggest gag of all? Read it in the Hudson Register-Star:
"A modern Dairy-Queen Drive-In will be constructed on the site of the historic General Worth Hotel that fell victim to the bulldozers last year. The Common Council in special session voted to sell the site for $1,700. Council President Thomas Quigley said the purchase 'was a step in the right direction to develop downtown Hudson.'"
America the beautiful,
Let me sing of thee;
Burger King and Dairy Queen
From sea to shining sea.
March 31, 1971
On the subject of Hudson demolishing its National Register properties, in 1970 the Front Street-Parade Hill-Lower Warren Street Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places. At that time, it included 95 buildings. In 1985 the boundaries of the district were decreased. The newly defined district contained only 25 buildings. The other 70 buildings had been lost to the bulldozers.
The picture above shows the General Worth Hotel in 1937, when it was a hundred years old. The quotation is from Ada Louise Huxtable, Kicked a Building Lately? (New York: Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co., 1976), which is available through interlibrary loan at the Hudson Area Library.