Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jane's Walk: Site 20

The 400 block of Warren Street may be the most gratifying block yet for ogling oriels. I have to confess that, while taking pictures of oriels this afternoon, I took closer notice of some buildings on this block that I haven't paid much attention to in the past.

There is this row of three buildings—426, 426½, 428—where the facade of all three seems to have been designed as one piece, with the three oriels arranged symmetrically—two that are alike flanking one that is different.

In contrast, right next door, there is this trio of stepped buildings422, 422½, 424all identical, except the one farthest to the west is the mirror image of the other two, and each with an oriel over the door.

The arched window crowns on all six buildings, a characteristic of Italianate style, suggest that the buildings date from some time between 1850 and 1880 and the oriels would be part of the original design. 

In the 300 block, all the oriels seemed to be added to existing buildings, as part of a Victorian refitting. In the 400 block, some of the oriels seem likely to be an original element of the building, and some don't.  

407 Warren Street

429 Warren Street

438 and 438½ Warren Street

442 Warren Street

444 Warren Street

A favorite is this "double decker" oriel on 445 Warren Streetalmost like a lantern on top of an oriel. This was most certainly part of the original design for the building.

There is much Hudson lore connected with this building, with its assymetrical design and unusual oriel. The story goes that it was designed and built by Henry S. Moul, the builder of 39 West Court Street and the architect for the fourth Columbia County courthouse, the one that burned to the ground in 1907 and was replaced by the current Warren and Wetmore courthouse. This building445 Warren Streetwas Moul's residence and his office, but mostly it was a showcase of the different architectural styles, materials, and ornamentation he could provide to those who engaged his services. 

More recently, the building figures in the novel The Spirit of the Place, by Samuel Shem (a.k.a. Dr. Stephen Bergman). The novel is set in a city called Columbia, a thinly disguised Hudson, and the local doctor, Bill Starbuck, has his office in this building. Dr. Orville Rose, the main character who returns to his hometown when his mother dies and who must, according to the terms of her will, stay for a year and thirteen days, works as Starbuck's assistant and eventually takes over the practice when Starbuck goes on an extended vacation.  

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