In the eleventh hour, Chris Gilbert, owner of the Cannonball Factory, expressed an interest in buying the former Colored Citizens Club at Columbia and Third streets and gave us reason to hope that the building might to spared and restored to some useful purpose after all. But it was not to be.
The City of Hudson--in the persons of Mayor Rick Scalera and Code Enforcement Officer Peter Wurster--reportedly had given Gilbert until the close of business today to reach an agreement with Kim Singletary and the Overcomers Ministries to buy the building. At 5:30 today, Gilbert told Gossips that he had made an offer, which was accepted, to buy the building, but there was one condition: that Gilbert would meet with Wurster to get a sense of the City's expectations. Gilbert hoped he would be allowed a few months to develop a plan for the stabilization and begin work on the building. Wurster, however, wanted a stabilization plan, created by a structural engineer, submitted for approval today. Since this could not be accomplished, Gilbert had to withdraw his offer to buy the building. As he told Gossips, "Given the time constraints I had--an engineered stabilization plan by today--it would have been impossible and prohibitively expensive for me to take over the project. It's too bad. I wish I had gotten involved earlier."
So it seems the City will carry out its plan to begin demolition on Monday or Tuesday. Those who watch carefully may be able to see if the 19th-century brick building at 259 Columbia is still under the facade or not. When Gossips asked Wurster if there was any chance the facade, which was added in the late 1950s or early 1960s, could be removed and the condition of the buildings behind the facade assessed before the whole structure was demolished, he denied that there were any buildings behind the facade. According to Wurster, the building at 259 Columbia was demolished decades ago. But people who lived in the neighborhood at the time have no recollection that the brick building at the corner was ever leveled, and at least one remembers witnessing how it was simply covered up, as was the clapboard building that was St. John's Methodist Episcopal Church.
People who have been inside the CC Club recall a big hall with a hardwood floor--not a typical feature of an institutional building constructed in the late '50s or early '60s, unless it was meant to be a gymnasium. One informant, who lives in the area and has been inside the building recently, reports that there is a brick wall behind that facade and it is still possible to see the outlines of the original building's windows.
Will we know the truth about this building--as with the building at 406 Warren Street, which was confirmed to be an 18th-century building when it was being demolished--only after it has been destroyed?
Thanks to Helen Arrott for sharing her research into the CC Club.