It has been fourteen years since Historic Hudson brought the Dr. Oliver Bronson House, tucked away on the grounds of the Hudson Correctional Facility, to the attention of advocates for historic preservation in the Hudson Valley and beyond. In that time, the house was designated a National Historic Landmark (2003) for its connection with noted American architect Alexander Jackson Davis, legislation was passed (2003) enabling Historic Hudson to lease the house from New York State, the lease was negotiated and entered into (2008), damaged and missing windows were restored or replicated (2009-2010), and the architectural firm of Mesick Cohen Baker Wilson was hired (2011) to plan and oversee the multiphased stabilization and restoration of this remarkable structure.
This summer, Phase I stabilization of the building has begun, and even though the casual observer cannot go onto the prison grounds to check out what's happening, everyone can follow the progress on an amazing blog called the Dr. Oliver Bronson House Daybook. The Daybook is the creation of Peter Watson, from the master's program in historic preservation at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia, who is working with Historic Hudson as project manager for the Dr. Oliver Bronson House. The blog is beautifully designed, and in addition to offering regular reports--with photographs--on the progress and discoveries at the house, there are posts that explore the history of the house and its architecture. Deserving special note are a series of posts about the Girls' Training School, which used the house as the residence for its superintendent for more than half a century, and a particularly intriguing post that investigates the possible inspiration for the design of the original house constructed in 1812 for Samuel Plumb.
The Dr. Oliver Bronson House Daybook is enthusiastically recommended reading.
Photograph by Peter Watson.