Sunday, October 16, 2011

Authentic and Faux

In a comment on Gossips last week, the only reader in France whose identity I can be certain of asked, "Wouldn't it be a nice thing if all new houses built in the city have the date of their construction graven on a plaque and affixed to each of them so as to indicate to those who do not know, and those yet to come who will know even less, about Hudson's architectural history that these houses do not belong to the city's legitimate historical past or any known historic style. . . ?" An amusing suggestion, certainly, but one that is not totally facetious. 

During ArtsWalk, Nicholas Kahn displayed a collection of photographs in a window at Rural Residence. A couple of the pictures were of the little house that was demolished recently at the corner of First Street and Cherry Alley, and Kahn had offered to let Gossips publish them, which we did on October 4, describing them as part of collection of photographs of historic Hudson architecture.       

Viewing the exhibition during ArtsWalk, I was surprised to see that it commingled the faux with the authentic. I'm sure that Kahn knows the difference and was amused, as I was to some degree, by the notion of juxtaposing the genuine and the imitation, but I wonder how many other people viewing the photographs knew the difference . . . or even cared.

Maybe those plaques that my ex-pat reader suggested aren't such a bad idea.


  1. For reasons other than yours, I think its a great idea. I love the first two blocks of Warren St. with their plaques giving the date and a little description of period, which when appropriate, could be expanded upon. It greatly enriches the experience of the person visiting the city. And to your point, would allow people know wether a house was built yesterday, or a century ago. But it would have to be voluntary, perhaps as a benefit for and from Historic Hudson?

  2. and yes the galloway greek revivaleques were mixed in my photo strips with the real thing as just that, a joke and provocation to comment, glad to see it got a rise and a discussion started about something I do care deeply about, real history and fake history, its actually the center of my art practice, and the dates on houses would indeed add a lot to everyones understanding of our amazing heritage here in hudson.

  3. This is a really good idea. I loved N.Kahn's photo exhibit. Every time any friends or family come to visit here,they are fascinated by Hudson's unique history and the amazing variety of distinctly north American architecture still standing in such a walkable distance.They always leave with my copy of Byrne Fone's "Historic Hudson; an Architectural Portrait"that, by now ,I must be his best customer.Hudson isn't ever going to be some "Historic Williamsburg",because it never was.It has such intense layers.In the study of this little city,lies the essence of what,why and how we became what is now America,at its best and worst.I feel personally very upset ,every time I see another historic building,remodeled beyond recognition or neglected til it self destructs or just abruptly raised,but I am heartened there are so many people here who do care.The HPC must be given the clout to enforce protection of legally designated Historic Bldgs,when an owner isn't being a Steward and needs the Law to guide them. The plaques might help also in areas that are not Historically protected .They might help some owners be more aware and curious about their own buildings and history,taking pride and encouraging ,maybe in some small way,to preserve, as much as we have left.Once it is gone, it is gone forever.

  4. Prison Alley: Thanks so much for buying. It is interesting that you say:"In the study of this little city,lies the essence of what,why and how we became what is now America,at its best and worst." For a time I was tempted to title the Book "Historic Hudson: What Happened to America." There was in that title of course an implied question mark at the end. The publisher however felt that it was too
    abstruse and so it became what it is called, but writing it was for me a labor of love.

    Byrne Fone, in France