Friday, August 24, 2012

Report from the HPC Workshop Meeting

This morning, Ward Hamilton presented, on behalf of the Galvan Partners, the third design for 67-71 North Fifth Street in a workshop meeting with the Historic Preservation Commission. Representing the HPC at the workshop were architect member Jack Alvarez, vice chair Rick Rector, and HPC counsel Cheryl Roberts.

Rector and Alvarez were generous in their praise of the new design. Rector called it a "big, big step in the right direction," and Alvarez said that he was "ecstatic that the porch [which goes back to the 1880s or 1890s] is coming back." Still Rector and Alvarez had some concerns, namely:

  • the pitch of the roof and the gable, both of which are more shallow in the proposed design than in the original;
  • the elimination of the windows in the gable; 
  • the change in the proportion and the configuration of the windows: the second story windows in the proposed design are larger than the original windows, and all the windows are six over six, which, in Rector's words, "has no historic bearing on the house," instead of the single pane sash seen in this vintage photograph.

Of the new design, Hamilton said it was "no small thing to get here" and asked the HPC to "consider how far we've come from the last design." Tom Swope, executive director of the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, who arrived midway through the workshop meeting, reminded the HPC that "the option always was to tear the buildings down." During the workshop, it was revealed that the HPC had requested a visit to the house, primarily to confirm that the roof framework was in fact 70 percent rotted, but their request had been denied for safety reasons.

Galvan Partners will present the new design to the full commission at its next regular meeting on September 14. It is not known if they will amend the design to address the concerns raised in the workshop or if they will present the design as it currently is.

Historic photograph courtesy Bruce Mitchinson


  1. Those are 3 very important concerns for a restoration based on the Doris Duke Foundation.

  2. The question remains, why is Galloway not able to put forward a good proposal from the start. If he really wants good relations with the community, it would be great to see him put forward good proposals right out of the gate, instead of causing all the sturm und drang that half cocked schemes create.

    Or is the drama the part he likes best?

  3. I am really going to over simplify this,so forgive me in advance.All 3 of Galvan's proposals are superimposed on same background photo with U-haul.All 3 are the same box,same window,same door,same basement window placement.The roof on the antebellum one and the roof on their last one are the same pitch,the same exact same roof.The flat roof is same "drawing"
    minus the roof.This is why the pitch on the roof is not proportionate or historically correct to the original.On the antebellum version the extension is just the center gable moved forward with columns.They each have different embellishments
    for door surrounds,that are standard issue with the program they are using.Probably
    "Sketch-up " as it requires much less information and is much less complicated than CAD system.They have what is called "warehouse"
    models to work from,with stock embellishments,for lack of a better word.
    This is a very helpful tool for spit balling ideas and having the discussions that HPC and Galvan have been having and can prove to be very productive to get both parties on the same page, but there is little to no real building information.Nothing that anyone would sign off on.Just the proportions of any thing remotely looking like a post,Galloway's obsession for columns must be watched carefully,the true dimensions ,must be approved,for instance.A wooden railing in this "drawing' can magically become wrought aluminum ala 1st street.ETC
    The real building ,now needs to have it's restoration designed,with true elevations,dimensions and blueprints.This is what HPC must have to sign off on.
    This roof "drawing" also makes me question the idea that an HPC architect escorted by building inspector ,cannot have access to look at the condition of the roof framework ,as you call it,safely.That's what architects do.
    Having spent much time, when I was looking to buy a house ,walking and crawling through General Worth's House,the issue of the roof needing to be completely removed was never an issue,repair ,yes.I have already had that fight with Hamilton ,and I do not want to revisit it here with him again.
    Swopes statement of ,"the option always was to
    tear the building down"has a thinly veiled menacing tone of the Doc and Cappy Show of dissolving HPC, if you get in our way,....just that threat in the air.
    I never witnessed or heard of anything like this before with landmark code,or codes period.

    Hudson's unique architecture is so contrary to the tastes of Galloway.Why here?
    I have to go to D.C. alot.
    Whenever I am down there,I think,Now this is a town Galloway would love.If you throw a stick you will hit a major column of some Greek revival confection ,they are everywhere.

    I also found it quite interesting that on the front page of Hamilton's Blog - is his quote of the day
    "It is better to preserve than to repair, better to repair than to restore, better to restore than to reconstruct." -- A. N. Didron, archaeologist, Bulletin Archeologique, Vol. 1, 1839"

    like we say in NYC
    "go figure?"

  4. It also says:

    "The preservation movement has one great curiosity. There is never retrospective controversy or regret. Preservationists are the only people in the world who are invariably confirmed in their wisdom after the fact." -- John Kenneth Galbraith

    "Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings." -- Jane Jacobs