Monday, April 11, 2011

An Unexpected Proposal

Jeremiah Rusconi, widely recognized and respected authority on Hudson's historic architecture, appeared before the Historic Preservation Commission last Friday with a fairly surprising request: a certificate of appropriateness to demolish these buildings at the corner of South Front and Cross streets.

Rusconi argued that historically--prior to the 1920s--this corner was open space, at one time part of the expansive lawn surrounding this grand Victorian Stick Style house, which stood on the north side of Cross Street. It was only in the 1920s, after the house had been destroyed by fire, that the current buildings on the corner of Front and Cross streets were built.

It is Rusconi's plan to demolish the buildings and leave the site as an open space. Section 169-8 B of Hudson's historic preservation law requires that plans for new development on a site be approved by the HPC before a certificate of appropriateness for demolition can be granted:  
Demolition shall be permitted only after the owner of the site has submitted and obtained design approval of his/her plans for new development under the provisions of this chapter, including an acceptable timetable and guarantees, which may include performance bonds for demolition and completion of the project. In no case shall the time between demolition and commencement of new construction or lot improvement exceed six months.
It is hoped that Rusconi's plans for lot improvement include trees to screen the view of this pair of garages which today occupy the site of the remarkable Victorian house. 

Rusconi's application was deemed incomplete, for lack of some required photographs, so no decision on the proposal was made at Friday's meeting. The proposal is expected to be considered at the HPC's May meeting.


  1. It's my understanding that this property was originally lawn and gardens to the brick building Mr. Rusconi lives in on the corner of Front and Allen. His goal has been to reclaim the land and return it to it's former glory.
    Glad to hear he's rekindled interest in this project.

  2. Thanks for the clarification, Vince. The photo of the Stick Style house after the fire made me think that the grounds of that house extended all the way to Front Street, but they could very well have been adjacent to the grounds of the house at Front and Allen. There were maps shown to the HPC at the meeting that the public could not see.

  3. Carole,

    The house that burned is later than the one that Mr. Rusconi lives in. Originally the whole area belonged to his house, was later subdivided, allowing later structures to appear.
    I think he has purchased back all the lots according to his original boundary.
    Removing these derelict structures of little historical significance would be a refreshing view from the train station for new comers.
    He certainly has the ability to transform the grounds into a park-like setting ...

  4. I'd love to see those wrecks come down, there doesn't seem to be enough architectural merit to make them worth saving.

  5. Carole,

    I find the HPC Section 169 - 8B rather confusing. Richard Cohen demolished the structure across from Cascades on Warren how many years ago now ... it's still a dump with no visible changes.

  6. Vince: There's nothing confusing about the law. It's the application and enforcement that's problematic. Richard Cohen had never gotten a certificate of appropriateness to demolish that building. His design for what was to take its place--that accordion wall with a continuous cascade of water over the entrance to his hotel--was never approved, and he never provided any guarantees that he could do what he intended, to say nothing about the time requirement. The building was demolished illegally five years ago, between Christmas and New Year's Day when many members of the HPC were out of town, and Cohen has never been penalized in any way for his action.