Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hudson in the Financial Times

There's an article in the Financial Times about period houses in the Hudson Valley, entitled "Into the Valley." Hudson is featured in the article, and two Hudsonians are quoted at some length: Vince Mulford and Peter Frank. One curiosity of the article is that the description of Hudson as a "dictionary of American architecture," oft quoted and attributed to a Columbia professor of architecture who used to bring his students here on field trips, is altered to call Hudson an "encyclopaedia of period homes."

Hudson in 1905: Part 34

The following is an excerpt from the booklet Illustrated Hudson, N.Y., published in 1905.

GUERNSEY & TERRY COMPANY--General Dry Goods and Carpets. No. 559 Warren street. This is the oldest business of its kind in the city, and has been in successful operation for over sixty-one years. It has been in the same location for the past fifty-nine years, and is the most familiar spot in the city of Hudson. It has become a veritable landmark to the shoppers, who have always relied upon the quality of purchases that are made at the Guernsey & Terry Company. The manager of the business is Mr. L. G. Guernsey, Mr. Terry having died some five years ago. A large and well assorted supply of all kinds of dry goods and notions is carried, including such goods as carpets, mattings, window shades, linoleums, crex carpets, lace curtains, rugs, etc. The best of attention and service is extended to all those who make this store their headquarters, as five persons are engaged to wait upon the trade. The greatest satisfaction and the lowest prices prevail in this store.

559 Warren Street today--the western half  of the Bank of America building

The building where Guernsey & Terry was located
Gossips Note: The "crex carpets" which were part of the merchandise at Guernsey & Terry were rugs woven from the native prairie grasses that grew in Crex Meadows in Wisconsin. The website of the Living Fossil Foundation, from which the picture below was taken, provides a history of the Crex Carpet Company.

Hudson in 1905: Bonus

Illustrated Hudson, N.Y., published in 1905, contains a number of photographs arranged throughout its twenty-four pages that have no particular connection to the text, and many of them are pictures that are rarely seen. This is an example.

The picture is identified in Illustrated Hudson as showing the "buildings of the reformatory," which can be seen in the distance along the ridge. The picture was taken from East Court Street, north of the railroad bridge.

The buildings were built in 1887 as the Women's House of Refuge, an institution founded by Progressive reformer  Josephine Shaw Lowell. In 1904, a year before this picture was probably taken, the institution became the Girls Training School, part of the New York State juvenile justice system, housing girls between the ages of 12 and 15, and remained so until 1975. The buildings now house the Hudson Correctional Facility.    

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Discussion of Shaw Bridge in Claverack

On Sunday, September 30, the Claverack Historic Preservation Committee is sponsoring a discussion of the historic Shaw Bridge by Dr. Francis Griggs, Jr., historic bridge expert, and John Testa, retired civil engineer. The design of the bridge was patented by Squire Whipple, the "father of American iron bridges," in 1841. Shaw Bridge was built in 1870 and has closed to all traffic since 1995. There is a plan to restore the bridge for use as a pedestrian walkway. 

The discussion begins at 3 p.m. at the A. B. Shaw Firehouse, 67 State Route 23 in Claverack. Light refreshments will be served, and an important announcement is promised.

The Outcome of the Auction

Five properties were auctioned by the City of Hudson this morning in a tax foreclosure sale.  (Since Friday morning, when Gossips published the list, 318 State Street had been withdrawn from the sale.) There was competitive bidding for most of the properties, and when the auction was over, all the properties potentially had new owners.

The first property offered for bid was 208-212 Mill Street. The minimum bid was $17,942, and no one was willing to bid that amount. However, after all the other properties had been offered, people were invited to offer bids that were less than the minimum on properties for which no one  had bid the minimum. An opening bid of $10,000 was offered, and the price was bid up to $15,000. The person offering the highest bid was Kamal Elmasri. The sale of the property for $15,000 is subject to approval by the Common Council.

The next property to be offered was 205 Columbia Street. Some very brisk competitive bidding brought the price up from the opening bid of $15,676 to $39,000. Sandra and Sylvester ("Sly") Lowery were the winning bidders. The Lowerys have been leasing the building and operating a business there. They are now the new owners.

The Lowerys were also the winning bidders on the adjacent property, 209-211 Columbia Street, offering the minimum bid of $19,309.

At its initial offering, with $46,700 as the minimum bid, 66 North Third Street, like the property on Mill Street, had no bidders. When bids below the minimum were invited, the bidding started at $10,000 and rose to $22,000. Henry Haddad was the winning bidder for the property. This sale, too, is subject to Common Council approval.

The bidding for 334 Rope Alley started with the minimum-- $21,069--and competitive bidding brought the price up to $26,500. Linda Mussmann was the winning bidder.

The City of Hudson was looking to recoup $106,587 in unpaid property taxes. If the bids on 208-212 Mill Street and 66 North Third Street are accepted by the Common Council, the total income from the sale of these five properties will be $121,809.

Danger Past for Historic Houses on Ferry Road

The NYS Department of Transportation has announced that it is "no longer considering options that would include acquisitions of occupied dwellings." DOT will reveal what they do plan to do to improve safety at the Ferry Road crossing at a public workshop on Friday, October 12. The workshop takes place at 6:30 p.m. at the Stuyvesant Town Hall. Barbara Reina has the story in today's Register-Star: "A weight lifted for Ferry Road residents."

Hudson in 1905: Part 33

The following is an excerpt from the booklet Illustrated Hudson, N.Y., published in 1905.

R. I. KINGMAN & COMPANY--Stoves, Etc. No. 557 Warren street. This concern is one of the recent additions to the general business interests of the city, but in its establishment of some three years' duration, has gained a decided success. The premises comprise a large store, well equipped with all the conveniences suited to the management of a business conducted on such an important scale. This store contains everything in the line of stoves, ranges, general hardware, cutlery, tinware, churns, copper, woodenware, dairy supplies, etc. Two shops flank the rear of the store, where all kinds of repair work is carried on. Special attention is called to the excellent line of plows on sale, leading among them the Columbia Chilled Plow. Mr. Kingman is a business man of great ability, and manages this store with a view to the best treatment of his patrons, giving them the benefits of the lowest prices for the most improved stock. Orders are attended to with care and promptness, and deliveries are made within the city limits.

557 Warren Street today--someday to be Quadrille

Gossips Note: A search to discover information about the Columbia Chilled Plow discovered these two items for sale on eBay: a teacup, probably given by the company as a premium to its customers, and a trade card for the Columbia Chilled Plow.

 The trade card describes the Columbia Chilled Plow in this way: 
It is made entirely of the best quality selected Charcoal Iron. It is a model of perfection in shape. It is light in weight. It is very light draft. It clears perfectly in soil where other plows fail. It wears better than any other iron or chilled plow made. It prepares and pulverizes the soil. It runs level and steady, making it an easy plow to hold.
The Columbia Chilled Plow was manufactured at the Copake Iron Works.

The "chilled plow" was patented in 1868 by James Oliver, a Scottish immigrant who had settled in South Bend, Indiana. Oliver devised an ingenious method of cooling the wearing surfaces of a plow more quickly than the body of the plow. As a result, part of the plow that came in contact with the soil had a hard, glassy surface while the rest of the plow was tough iron. 

Friday Morning at the HPC

On Friday morning, the Historic Preservation Commission voted to grant a certificate of appropriateness to design for rebuilding 67-71 North Fifth Street, with the stipulation that the original clapboard be reused or, if that was not possible, that it be replaced in kind. 

Former mayor Rick Scalera, now a special adviser to the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, was in the audience, as he is whenever a Galvan project comes before the HPC. After the meeting, Tom Casey, reporter for the Register-Star sought a comment from Scalera. In his article "Armory houses application approved," Casey reports that Scalera was "pleased that the way was paved for work on the houses that were a project of his during his tenure as Hudson mayor." Interestingly, only hours before, in the same chamber, during a discussion of ethics at the Common Council Legal Committee meeting, city attorney Cheryl Roberts stated "once you leave office, you cannot lobby on a specific project you worked on."

Also at Friday's meeting, David Voorhees resigned as chair of the HPC. Rick Rector, who had been vice chair, was unanimously elected chair, and Phil Forman was elected vice chair. Voorhees will continue as a member of the HPC until his term expires at the end of July 2014.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Charles Williams Park Update

Charles Williams Park was a topic of discussion at the HCDPA (Hudson Community Planning & Development Agency) meeting on Thursday night. It was revealed that $214,242 of the original $250,000 has so far been spent on the project.

The grant was awarded in 2007 when Dick Tracy was mayor, but work on the park didn't begin until Rick Scalera returned to the mayor's office in 2008. Cappy Pierro, who was mayor's aide to Scalera and is now on the HCDPA board by virtue of the fact that he is Common Council majority leader, explained that there was "a lot of site preparation." Pierro went on to say that the project was "pared back because there was no way we could do it with that amount of money" and summed things up by saying: "When it comes right down to it, $250,00 doesn't go too far." 

So, how will the remaining $35,758 be spent? John "Duke" Duchessi, grant writer and administrator for HCDPA, indicated that "what we're talking about now are picnic tables."

Gossips has requested an accounting of how the $214,242 has been spent.

Epistolary Style

On Saturday, September 29, there is a book signing at Rural Residence that will appeal to anyone has who ever felt nostalgia for the civility of a time when visitors were judged by the quality of their calling cards and correspondents by the elegance of their hand and the quality of their writing paper--a time known to most of us only from reading 19th-century novels. Nancy Sharon Collins, noted designer and stationer to such prestigious clients as the Metropolitan Opera Shop and the Museum of Modern Art, will be signing copies of her book The Complete Engraver, which recounts the history and etiquette of engraved social stationery in America, explores the promise of new visual possibilities, and includes instructional sections that offer tips on letter writing and social stationery etiquette. The book signing takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. Rural Residence is located at 316 Warren Street.

Hudson in 1905: Part 32

The following is an excerpt from the booklet Illustrated Hudson, N.Y., published in 1905.

SAMUEL KLINE--Dealer in Boots, Shoes, and Rubbers, and all kinds of Footwear. 561 Warren street. In the five years in which Mr. Kline has been established in Hudson the purchasers of his footwear have always found that whatever they have bought of him was exactly as he represented it to them, and owing to this fact he has built up a patronage that well bespeaks his ability as a business man. His stock is large and well chosen, and displayed to the best advantage, while the different makes he handles comprise the leading lines of first-class footwear. Among his specialties he makes a leader of The HU-MAN-IC for men, and the Julia Marlowe for women. He is the only local representative for the former, and owing to its fine qualities it has met with popular approval. Previous to locating in his present quarters, where he has been for the past two years, he was located on the opposite side of the street. In connection with the general business, a special department is conducted for the repairing of shoes, and being a practical shoemaker as well, he can assure the best of workmanship in this respect.

561 Warren Street today--the eastern half of the Bank of America building
The building that preceded the bank building on that corner
Warren Street, West from Sixth, from Illustrated Hudson, N.Y.

Public Auction Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning, Saturday, September 29, at 10 a.m. there will be an auction of properties seized by the City of Hudson for unpaid property taxes. The auction takes place at City Hall, and these six properties will be in the block.

208-212 Mill Street--Minimum bid: $17,942

205 Columbia Street--Minimum bid: $15,676

209-211 Columbia Street--Minimum bid: $19,309

66 North Third Street--Minimum bid: $46,700
334 Rope Alley--Minimum bid: $21,069

318 State Street--Minimum bid: $38,854
The minimum bid for each property represents the total amount of unpaid taxes due on the property. The terms and conditions of the sale are available in the Treasurer's Office at City Hall, 520 Warren Street.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Will Upper Warren Get New Streetlights?

During the Urban Renewal era, when Warren Street was given what was meant to be a Williamsburg look, with brick sidewalks and streetlights that imitated colonial lanterns, the look stopped at Park Place. A few years ago, when the City installed the new street lamps, they once again did not extend beyond the Public Square. Now that there are both new and established businesses on the far side of the parkParlor, Wunderbar, the Crimson Sparrow, Wasabi, and (soon) Bonfiglio & Breadthere's an interest in embracing this stretch of Warren Street as part of the business district and replacing the cobra head streetlights with the lantern-like street lamps that grace the rest of the street.

Last night at the Public Works Committee meeting, DPW superintendent Rob Perry revealed that he had written $39,929 into his proposed budget for 2013 to purchase the bases, lamp poles, and conduit needed to replace the cobra head streetlights on upper Warren Street with the same street lamps found on the rest of Warren Street. (The luminaires are leased from National Grid.) Unfortunately, this amount is not sufficient to eliminate the utility poles, which was done for the rest of Warren Street more than thirty years ago, but it's a start. Perry reports that this budget item survived the initial review by the BEA (Board of Estimate and Apportionment). Let's hope it survives all subsequent reviews as well.

Hudson in 1905: Part 31

The following is an excerpt from the booklet Illustrated Hudson, N.Y., published in 1905.

THE MARSH & BACHMAN CO.--Proprietors of THE MODERN DRY GOODS STORE. 551 Warren street. This modern emporium began business thirteen years ago, and has been incorporated and conducted under the present title for the past ten years. The members of the firm are: W. T. Marsh, President; S. H. Blunt, Vice-President; and L. W. Bachman, Secretary and Treasurer. The general stock carried at this establishment is large and varied in every department. It comprises everything in the way of dry goods, notions, millinery, ladies' suits and ready-to-wear garments, carpets, rugs, and travelers' outfits. Through progressive methods and a careful insight into the wants of their customers Messrs. Marsh & Bachman Co. have built up the largest establishment of this kind in the city. The entire building, three floors and basement,  32x150 feet, is devoted to the business, and the general arrangement is such as to facilitate the hurried shopper in finding what she wants readily. The general display at all times is one to create admiration, while the dispatch with which purchases are handled are modern in every degree, having the Lamson Carrier and all other appointments connected with a business of this character.

551 Warren Street today--Noonan Antiques and Crawford & Associates
Gossips Note: The Lamson Carrier was invented in 1880 by William S. Lamson, who owned a notions store in Lowell, Massachusetts. It was a system that conveyed money from clerks on the selling floor to a cashier in some central location in the store by means of overhead wires. A clerk would place the customer's cash and a sales slip in the carrier container, which in the beginning was a wire basket, and send it to the cashier; the cashier would put the change and a receipt into the carrier and send it back to the sales clerk. In the 20th century, the Lamson Carrier evolved into a pneumatic tube system. The Lamson Carrier predated the cash register, and the system continued to be used in department stores until the 1950s.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

More About the Robert Taylor House

Yesterday, Gossips announced that the Historic Preservation Commission's public hearing on moving the Robert Taylor House had been canceled because Galvan Partners withdrew their application for a certificate of appropriateness. Much as some may have hoped this action indicated a change of heart, it was more like a lapse of memory. Galvan Partners apparently forgot they needed a certificate of appropriateness not only to relocate the house but also to demolish the addition to 25 Union Street, which must come down if the Robert Taylor House is to fit on its proposed site.

Spotted in Today's New York Times

Page B7 of today's New York Times reports the recent sale of a 19th-century Greek Revival town house on East 11th Street between Fifth Avenue and University Place. According to the information provided, the building now has four vacant apartments, but the buyer may convert it back to a single family residence.  

The price: $10.6 million 
The buyer: Eric Galloway 

Could this be the same Eric Galloway who is buying up property here in Hudson? 

Not to Be Missed

On his blog, Sam Pratt comments on the public hearing that no one showed up for and the Register-Star article about it: "Details, details."

Hudson in 1905: Part 30

The following is an excerpt from the booket Illustrated Hudson, N.Y., published in 1905.

THE UNION PACIFIC TEA COMPANY--No. 510 Warren street. Walter M. Marvin, Manager. The above company has been represented in this city for about one year, and bids fair to become one of the most important establishments of its kind in Hudson. The company are the largest tea and coffee importing retailers in America,  being the sole proprietors of Sovereign brands of baking powders, cocoa, extracts, spices, and chocolates. They control branch stores in all the principal cities in the country, with the main headquarters in Water street, New York. In addition to a large and excellent line of teas and coffees, such goods as crockery, glassware, cutlery, tinware, steel, enamelware, lamps, fancy vases, clocks, dinner, tea and coffee and toilet sets, Japanese goods, Smyrna rugs, tapestry table covers, etc., are given as premiums. Some eight men are employed in the management of the retail business here, while seven wagons are required to take charge of the delivery of goods. The company has been established for over a quarter of a century, and owe their great success to honesty and square dealing to all. 

510 Warren Street today--510 Warren Street Gallery

No Public at Public Hearing

Last night, Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency held a public hearing about the Brownfield Opportunity Area grant application they're preparing, and no one from the public showed up. Tom Casey has the story in today's Register-Star: "City seeks input for brownfield grant app."  

HCDPA executive director Sheena Salvino, grant writer John Duchessi, and TGW consultant Bill Roehr hosted the hearing that no one attended, and Roehr is quoted by Casey bemoaning the public's apparent lack of interest. Lack of public notice not lack of interest seems the more likely explanation. The hearing did not appear in Ellen Thurston's exhaustively comprehensive list of meetings and events, and a search of the newly redesigned online version of the Register-Star discovered no announcement of the hearing. Apparently it only appeared buried in the classified section of the Register-Star's print version. 

Duchessi says the grant proposal will be available for public review, starting tomorrow, September 27, at City Hall and at the Hudson Area Library. He also indicated that HCDPA plans to schedule another public meeting to get ideas and suggestions from the community.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Back to the Senior Center

Although there's not been much news about the senior center lately, work on the project continues. Today a model of the proposed center, in its context, appeared at City Hall. Photographing the model in its Lucite case and the afternoon sun was difficult (I recommend going to see it for yourselves), but here are Gossips' best efforts.

Breaking News

Gossips just learned that Galvan Partners has withdrawn their application for a certificate of appropriateness to move the Robert Taylor House, and the public hearing, which was announced only this morning, has been cancelled. 

It will be remembered that the Historic Preservation Commission denied a certificate of appropriateness to the project in June.  In July, Galvan Partners appealed the HPC's decision to the Common Council. In early September, Galvan withdrew the appeal, and on September 14, Ward Hamilton, on behalf of Galvan Partners, presented a new application to the HPC for a certificate of appropriateness to move the house. Now it seems that application has been withdrawn. We can only hope that Galvan Partners has given up this bad idea.

Public Hearing Scheduled

Mark your calendars. The Historic Preservation Commission has scheduled a public hearing on the Galvan Partners application for a certificate of appropriateness to move the Robert Taylor House from its historic setting at the head of Tanners Lane to 21 Union Street. Remember the time and place:

Thursday, October 25, 6:30 p.m.
Central Firehouse
77 North Seventh Street

Hudson in 1905: Part 29

The following is an excerpt from the booklet Illustrated Hudson, N.Y., published in 1905.

K. V. CLARK--Hudson's Leading Cloak and Suit House. K. V. Clark, 521 Warren street, conducts Hudson's leading cloak and suit house, and has been established for nearly two years. The premises occupied are of ample dimensions, measuring 120 by 40 feet. The store is heavily stocked with a varied and well assorted line of cloaks, suits, skirts, waists, wrappers, muslin underwear, and corsets. These goods are handled exclusively for the trade, and are sold at prices the most reasonable in consideration of their excellent quality. Miss Clark saw the need of just such an establishment in Hudson, and since the organization of the business a fine trade has been built up. All orders are given the promptest attention; some nine hands are employed in the management of the trade; deliveries are made to all parts of the city and the surrounding towns; and the greatest care and honesty are preserved in all the dealings of the house. Satisfaction is guaranteed in every particular.

Store of K. V. Clark from Illustrated Hudson, N.Y.
521 Warren Street today--Tishu

Punitive Priorities

In Hudson, we have an unsolved murder, a rash of car burglaries, house break-ins, persistent problems with drug dealing and vandalism, and the troubling matter of unpaid parking tickets. To deal with the last of those items, there were first arrests, then towing, and now the boot--all used to wrest fines from parking scofflaws--but none of these tactics seems enough. The HPD now wants to employ a collection agency to exact fines and penalties on tickets issued between 2006 and 2008. Tom Casey has the story in today's Register-Star: "HPD may enlist help to recoup ticket fees."

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Status of Charles Williams Park

Back in 2007, when Eliot Spitzer was the governor and Dick Tracy was the mayor, the City of Hudson received a $250,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Fund to develop Charles Williams Park at the end of Mill Street and down the bluff from what used to be the Charles Williams School. The plans were lavish, with something for everyone--a playground, a basketball court, an area for bocce or horseshoes, a skate park, a fenced dog run, a picnic grove with a pavilion beside a pond or rain garden, restrooms, sled runs in winter, and a handicapped accessible switchback path down to the park from the north end of Third Street. 

Work began on the park project in 2009, the preliminary stages of which involved a lot of earth moving. Periodically, since then, whenever grants or parks were discussed in public meetings, someone would inquire about the status of the work on Charles Williams Park. At last week's Common Council meeting, First Ward supervisor Sarah Sterling was the one to ask the question. It was answered by Fifth Ward alderman Cappy Pierro, who said that the playground and the pavilion were up, and the manner in which he offered the information suggested that these actions put paid to the project and the grant. 

Curious, Gossips headed down to Charles Williams Park yesterday to have a look. What I saw bore little resemblance to the original vision. One can only hope there is still more to come.