Thursday, March 27, 2014

Historic Preservation in the Time of Urban Renewal

When contemplating the wholesale destruction that was urban renewal in Hudson, it is often forgotten that there was some concession, albeit marginal, to the interests of historic preservation: the facade easement program. At the time, it was cutting edge. Federal funds were used to restore the facades of the few buildings included in the 1970 National Register Front Street-Parade Hill-Lower Warren Street Historic District that survived the devastation. Those fortunate buildings were located on the east side of South Front Street, the north side of the first block of Warren Street, and on both sides of the second block of Warren Street--the 100 block. 

Along with the picture of the buildings at the end of Warren Street published yesterday, Paul Barrett sent pictures of other buildings on Warren Street he had stumbled upon. It occurred to Gossips that these might be the "BEFORE" pictures of houses that were part of the facade easement program. 

There was this "BEFORE" picture of 22 and 24 Warren Street. Note the doorway at the right which appears to give entrance to nothing.

Comparing this picture with the buildings as they are today, now it would seem one building, shows that they were dramatically transformed, almost beyond recognition. One wonders what the justification for this was.

Comparing the "BEFORE" picture of 124 Warren Street (below) with the building as it is today shows (mercifully) no such bewildering alteration, only dramatic improvement, which, Gossips can attest, happened not during urban renewal but in the past ten or so years.

Equally gratifying is the fact that the hoods over the doorways of the houses on either side survived the installation of those aluminum awnings that seemed ubiquitous in mid-20th century Hudson.

The most interesting transformation occurred at 116 Warren Street, a rare textbook example of Federal period Adam style architecture. The "BEFORE" picture shows that an additional story had been added to the building, probably in the 1860s.

The picture below, provided by Bruce Bergmann, was taken in 1974 and shows the work on the facade of the building underway. (Note the tower of what was originally the Harder Knitting Company, a.k.a. Knauss Brothers mushroom factory and Candy Lane, in the background at the right.)

The added story was removed, and the building restored to the way it was when it was originally constructed in 1805 as the First Bank of Hudson.


1 comment:

  1. To this day I'm amazed that 116 Warren survived the wrecking ball. The building was in very poor condition and I believe that if it were not for the investment of a Mr. Wientraub, a Hudson City Merchant, it may have been demolished as was the case for the building to the East, 118-120? Warren.