Saturday, November 13, 2010

UPDATE: Washington Hose

On Friday morning, the proposal to restore Washington Hose came before the Historic Preservation Commission. At the outset, Cheryl Roberts, counsel to the HPC, advised that the proposal was coming before them for recommendation only since Washington Hose was owned by the City of Hudson and therefore the HPC that not have the power to grant or deny approval. 

According to Dan Proper from the engineering firm of Crawford & Associates, who appears to be overseeing the project, two significant changes are planned for the building. The first involves the truck bay, which, in the building's new life as the offices of Hudson Development Corporation and the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, will become a conference room. The roof on the truck bay, which is now a flat roof with a parapet, will be changed to a gable roof with asphalt shingles. The second significant change involves the frieze, which will be made "more Greek Revival" in style. 

According to Proper, the building has undergone "so many morphs" that it doesn't make sense to retain any of the windows except the arched windows at the front, which fill openings that were originally the engine bays, and the metal windows in the truck bay. The new windows will be wood, with true divided lights, four over one to match the configuration of the few existing windows believed to be original.  

The Historic Preservation Commission made only one recommendation: to retain the little round windows in the gables on either side of the main part of the building. In the architect's rendering of the building, the window was missing, and in the drawings presented to the HPC, the round window reportedly had been replaced with a square window. 

Among the materials submitted to the HPC were historic photographs of the building, including this amazing image. The building has been so altered over time that it's barely recognizable as the same building. 

This photograph is remarkable not only because it reveals that the building once had this extraordinary turret but also because at includes three fire-wardens dressed exactly as dictated in a resolution passed by the Common Council on July, 22, 1794:

"That so many firemen shall, from time to time, be appointed as the Common Council shall deem proper, and shall be called fire-wardens, whose duty it shall be, immediately on notice of fire, to repair to the place where it shall be, and to direct the inhabitants in forming themselves into ranks for handing the buckets to supply the fire-engines with water,-- . . . and the citizens are hereby enjoined to comply with the directions of the fire-wardens upon such occasions. . . . And in order that the . . . fire-wardens may be readily distinguished at fires . . . each of the fire Wardens shall, upon all those occasions, carry in his hand a Speaking-Trumpet painted white, to be used as occasion may requires; . . . shall wear, a Leather Cap with the crown whited white."


  1. During the Preservation Committee meeting, Tom Swope speculated that the photograph shown here might not be Washington Hose. That observation could be tossed off as speculation. But there is a curious anomaly that is other than the issue of characteristics of the elevation facing, or apparently facing, Front Street. There appears to be a rear section, this would be the west side, that is smaller and set in from the main, two story section. The current main section of WH has no such change in dimension.

  2. Don--I considered that possibility, after you suggested it at the meeting, but I didn't think that Washington Hose, unlike most of the the other fire companies, had been in different locations. According to Ellis--source of the Common Council resolution I quoted in the post--in 1794 there was a resolution to erect two firehouses "over the two Wells . . . for the Reception of fire-engines." One was on Second Street and the other on Main Street. Further quoting Ellis: "Three years later a new engine-house was ordered to be built on the Market square." That's the location of Washington Hose.

    It has occurred to me that what appears to be another smaller building may just be a stepped parapet. The flat roof on a building like this usually has a fairly steep pitch, so the parapet in the back wouldn't have to be as high as the parapet in the front. It may be an optical illusion that it appears to be set in.

    What's remarkable to me is that they changed the placement of the second story windows--from a double window and a single window to three single windows symmetrically arranged across the front. Easily done with a clapboard building; not so easily done with a brick building.

  3. David Voorhees submitted this comment:

    On page 174 of Byrne Fone's Historic Hudson: An Architectural Portrait there is an aerial view of South Front Street showing Washington Hose in the configuration with the turret as it appears in the photograph above. According to Shirley Dunn's 1985 survey for the National Register of Historic Places Inventory, the present brick core of the firehouse was built about 1840. The alterations to the structure in the photograph were apparently undertaken by urban renewal, although it is unclear if it was intended to return the building to its previous form.

  4. Crawford & Associates are involved ?

    Enough said.