Thursday, December 31, 2015

About the New High School--New in 1915

The new high school building, which was the source of civic pride a hundred years ago, is now a county office building at 401 State Street. It's a building that its occupants today are more likely to curse than to revere. The temperature to hard to regulate; the pipes bang when heat is rising from the boiler room. But a hundred years ago it was the epitome of all that was desirable in a school building, "constructed and equipped according to the most modern ideas."

Newspaper articles about the dedication of the new high school, which took place on January 4, 1916, assured readers that "the interior of the building is much more beautiful than the exterior" and went on to describe, floor by floor, what could be found inside. For those familiar with 401 State Street today--and even for those who aren't--it's interesting to review the description as it appeared in the Hudson Evening Register, because it is still possible to see a bit the old school's original design in today's reuse of the building.
In design, the building is Jacobean Gothic which style of architecture is said to lend itself very readily to large lighting surfaces. Its outside appearance is attractive with an exterior of textile red brick with wide flush joints and neatly trimmed with Indiana lime stone.
Auditorium for 400.
The building though classed as a two-story building really has four levels, basement, ground floor, first and second. The ground floor, which is on a grade with State street, is largely a service floor and has no regular class rooms. However on this level are found the rooms for vocational work, including cooking, sewing, carpentry, etc. Here also are located locker and toilet rooms and the beautiful auditorium which will seat on the floor over 400 and has a large stage and two dressing rooms. It is exactly on the same level as State street and requires no climbing whatsoever to reach it from the street.
One of the features most to be commended is the excellent arrangements of exits. No less than seven exits from the ground floor are provided. In addition there are two from the first floor, two from the second floor and one from the boiler room.
In the basement are located the heating plant and fuel room, the gymnasium (40 x 64) with balcony, shower baths, laundry, space for locker rooms and two unfinished rooms which are designed to be used eventually for machine work in iron and electrical work.
On the First Floor.
On the first floor are five offices and teachers' rooms, which will be used as the official center of Hudson's public school system. Here also are six recitation rooms, one of which is designed for mechanical drawing with a dark closet etc. One of the most attractive features of the building is the corridor balcony on this floor. Leaded glass windows separate this wide corridor from the high auditorium and when [an event] requires these windows can be raised and the corridor thus serves as a balcony for the auditorium, [providing seating for] nearly 100 additional persons.
The Upper Story.
[Gossips Note: The description of this floor is illegible in the Hudson Evening Register available online, so the following description was taken from the Columbia Republican.]
Here is the commercial department with a fine large room for this work and a smaller room just off it equipped with typewriters. The study room with 133 individual desks, the latest thing in school furniture, is also located here. The library is on this floor, the English room, the mathematics room, and the lecture room for the science department, with seats on tiers. Here are water, gas and electricity and a huge curtain so that lantern slides can be used. There is a biology room, a physics department and a chemistry room.
Fireproof Construction.
The building throughout is of fireproof construction and is laid out with ample corridors and stairways. The floors of the ground and first floor corridors are constructed of terrazzo, the stairs of iron with either marble or slate treads. The front entrance is for visitors and officials, the girls' entrance is on Fourth street, while the boys' entrance is on the east side of the building. The interior wood finish of all class rooms is green; of all corridors mahogany. All regular class rooms are abundantly lighted from one side, thus insuring light over the left shoulder without confusing shadows. A floated white sea sand finish covers all plastered walls of rooms and corridors. The building is heated with steam and ventilated by fans electrically driven. The temperature is regulated by thermostats and the bells for classes ring by a master clock. Intercommunicating telephones make the building convenient for teachers and officers.
The boys and girls of Hudson may well be proud of their new home. They have waited a long time for it and have met with some disappointments but at last the opening day has arrived. May the youth of Hudson show their spirit and their appreciation by greater diligence and higher aspirations.

O Brave New World . . .

The Register-Star reports today that in the month of December there were 360 new applications for pistol permits in Columbia County: "Pistol applications jump after Calif. shooting." The article quotes two women, reportedly from Hudson, who were interviewed outside Walmart in Greenport. The first said, "I think anybody who lives in Hudson should have [a pistol]. Everybody's got their own take on it, but it's our right . . . there's a lot of violence and crime in our town that's not being taken care of." The other said, "If our community government can't protect us, then we have to protect ourselves."

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Anticipating Events in the New Year

As 2015 draws to a close, Hudson is looking forward to the inauguration of its first elected woman mayor. A hundred years ago, as 1915 was drawing to a close, Hudson was looking forward to the dedication of a brand-new high school building, which, in spite of a major collapse during construction, was touted as "constructed and equipped according to the most modern ideas." Apparently the redesign after the collapse resulted in a better building. In announcing the dedication, the Hudson Evening Register reported: "So many excellent features have been added since it was originally planned that Hudson has a much better high school building than she realizes."

The article heralding the dedication appeared in the Evening Register for December 31, 1915, and was accompanied by photographs of the Hudson Board of Education and the faculty of Hudson High School. Because pictures in newspapers were rare a hundred years ago, and because these are particularly interesting, both are reproduced below.

Here are the names of the people in the picture, from left to right: (standing) S. Mitchell Rainey, William Kritzman, and Superintendent C. S. Williams, for whom the Charles Williams School, now the Second Ward Foundation, was named; (seated) Mrs. J. W. Gillette, John F. Brennen, and H. S. Rivenburgh.

The captions give not only the name of each member of the Hudson High School faculty but also the person's degree and the subject matter taught. That information is repeated here: (Row 1) Guy P. Davis, B. S., Principal; Mabel C. Dowsland, Expression; (Row 2) Margaret A. Tymeson, A. M., Physics and Algebra; Eleanore Bowman, Ph. B., Library, Assistant Teacher, and Orchestra; Bertha R. Collins, A. B., Chemistry and Biology; (Row 3) Margaret Stevens, A. M., German; Prof. Ernest T. Bond, Director of Vocal Music; Ruth S. Rafferty, A. B., English; (Row 4) Ethelwyn Wardles, Mathematics; Everett S. Hewes, Commercial Department; Alice Ruth Parker, A. M., Latin.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Attention Registered Democrats

Today--Tuesday, December 29--is the first day of a thirty-day period during which petitions can be signed to get candidates' names on the ballot for the Democratic primary in New York, which takes place on April 19, 2016. Starting today, there is an effort afoot to get Bernie Sanders' name on the ballot. Signing the petition does not commit you to vote for Sanders; it's just part of the process required to get his name on the ballot.

From noon until 6 p.m., registered Democrats can go to Peter Jung Fine Art, 512 Warren Street, to sign the petition for Sanders. At 6:30 p.m., there will be a gathering of Sanders supporters at Wunderbar, 744 Warren Street. You can join the group for food and music and sign the petition, too, of you choose.

If today's opportunities don't work for you, contact Peter Jung to make other arrangements. You have until January 29 to sign the petition.

Too Many Moores

It's confirmed. The folks at the Register-Star don't read their own paper. This appeared on their Facebook page today.

Fear not. Chief Ed Moore is not leaving his post at the HPD. Rather Don Moore, who did not seek re-election as Common Council president, choosing instead to run (successfully) for Third Ward supervisor, is bidding farewell to his office.

Thanks to Dorothy Heyl for bringing this to our attention.

A Season of Change

In today's Register-Star, Mayor William Hallenbeck and Council President Don Moore look back at their years in office--four for Hallenbeck, six for Moore. Hallenbeck's retrospective has the title "Mayor looks back at successes, challenges"; Moore's "Six years have brought maturity, cooperative spirit to Hudson."

On Friday, a new mayor and a new Common Council president will be sworn in. Word from the mayor elect's aide is that the swearing in at City Hall will take place at noon.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Ringing in the Tricentennial Year

Come the new year, the Reformed Dutch Church of Claverack will be celebrating its tricentennial, the church's first congregation being founded in 1716.

Photo credit: imby
To usher in the Tricentennial Celebration, the bells of the church will ring 300 times, beginning at midnight on New Year's Eve. The ringing of the bells will be preceded by prayers and singing in the church beginning at 11:30 p.m. 

In the Grip of the Grip

Most have heard about the Spanish flu pandemic which ravaged the world in 1918 and 1919, causing the deaths of more people than the Great War (World War I) or the Black Death in the 14th century. Three years before the great pandemic, at the end of 1915, Hudson was experiencing an epidemic of a different strain of influenza, called simply "the grip." During the days between Christmas and New Year's Day, in the Hudson Evening Register column "Personal Notes and Jottings," reports of people suffering from the grip shared space with news of holiday visits.

An article on the front page of the Hudson Evening Register for December 29, 1915, reported that in the week that ended on December 25, the number of deaths from influenza in New York was five times greater than it had been during the same week the previous year (1914) and twice what it had been the previous week. The same article cautioned that there was no remedy for the grip: "all that was left for the patient to do was to suffer and bear it."

The Hudson Evening Register for December 30, 1915, printed this advice for staying healthy in the crisis, offered by Dr. Paul V. Winslow, "sanitary supervisor of this district."


Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Destruction of a Steeple

The weather this holiday season has been freakishly warm. A hundred years ago, Hudson also experienced "freakish weather" of a different sort. On the day after Christmas in 1915, there was a blizzard in Hudson with winds so strong that they toppled the steeple on the Baptist Church on Union Street at City Hall Place (now the Rock Solid Church). The disaster occurred just before noon on Sunday, December 26, but mercifully, because of the severe weather, no one had come out for Sunday services, and there was no one in the church when the steeple came down. The next day, on Monday, December 27, a full account of what happened appeared in the Hudson Evening Register.

At Christ Church and the Universalist Church at 448 Warren Streettwo Hudson churches that also lost their steeples, to weather and excessive wariness respectivelytowers remain as reminders of the steeples that once were. At the Baptist Church, the steeple seems to have disappeared without a trace.

No pictures of the church with its steeple have been found, but the steeple appears in the background of these historic pictures.

Looking west from the 400 block of Union Street

The First Presbyterian Church before its Gothic expansion

The view over the rooftops, looking west, from somewhere in the 400 block of Warren Street
Oscar S. Way, whose occupation is given in the Hudson city directory as "pianos," lived with his family at 344 Union Street. It is not known if an effort was made to rebuilt the house after the steeple fell on it, but there is no house at 344 Union Street today.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

More News of the Waterfront

At its last meeting of the year, the Common Council unanimously passed a resolution expressing the City's intention to offer a license agreement to the Hudson Sloop Club "for the dockage of sailing vessels and establishment of an Estuary Education Center [in the southernmost embayment at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park], upon the condition that the grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is obtained in the most current grant cycle." The Hudson Sloop Club had received its 501(c)3 not-for-profit status just one week before, and the grant application had to be submitted the next day. The grants are expected to be awarded before the end of this month.

In today's Register-Star, John Mason reports on what the Hudson Sloop Club is proposing: "Grant sought for river education center." 

Democrats All

Ten aldermen make up the Common Council, and nine of them are Democrats--Democrats of all stripes. 

There's Bob "Doc" Donahue, who has served as Fifth Ward alderman for twenty-two years, beginning in January 1994. Although a registered Democrat, Donahue ran this year, as he has in the past, as a Republican because the Hudson City Democratic Committee (HCDC) did not endorse him. In fact, he didn't even seek the Democratic endorsement.

There's Lauren Scalera, a newcomer to politics but the daughter of Rick Scalera, who has made a lifetime career of Hudson politics. Scalera the father maintains that he is a Democrat, but forty-two years ago, at the dawn of his long career which includes fourteen years, in seven nonconsecutive terms, as mayor of Hudson (1994-1999, 2002-2005, 2008-2011), he made an early run for Fourth Ward alderman as a Republican. Scalera the daughter did not get the HCDC's endorsement but primaried the two candidates that did to secure the Democratic line . . . as well as the Republican and Independence Party lines.

There's Abdus Miah, who is a member of the HCDC and ran with the endorsement of the HCDC, but it is rumored that in this year's election, as he has in the past two elections, he actively campaigned for the Republican mayoral candidate and hence against the Democrats' candidate, Mayor-elect Tiffany Martin Hamilton.

There's Alexis Keith, who was endorsed by the HCDC but decided in the run-up to the primary to associate herself both with her fellow HCDC-endorsed candidate, Rich Volo, and with the challenger, Lauren Scalera.

Then there's Henry Haddad, an incumbent alderman who was denied an endorsement by the HCDC but went out and got his own petitions signed, secured his place on the ballot as a Democrat, and won reelection handily.

The remaining four members of the new Council--Rick Rector, Michael O'Hara, Tiffany Garriga, and John Friedman--all ran with the endorsement of the HCDC, of which Garriga is a member. The only person on the Council who makes no claims to be a Democrat, aside from the Council president, is Priscilla Moore, newly elected Fifth Ward alderman, who is not registered in any party and ran with the endorsement of the Republicans.

So this year, the Council faces the same dilemma as it did four years ago, when the only non-Democrat was First Ward alderman David Marston, who like Moore was an NOP (no official party). The charter apparently mandates that there be both a majority leader and a minority leader, and presumably back in 2011, it was determined that the minority leader had to be affiliated with some party. In 2011, the Council elected Ohrine Stewart as minority leader, along with Cappy Pierro as majority leader, the rationale being, it seems, that as an African American woman Stewart represented a minority. 

On Christmas Day, the Register-Star reported that on the previous Wednesday the Democratic "caucus" (it's hard to think of it as a caucus when it involves 90 percent of the Council) had met and re-elected Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) as majority leader and elected Abdus Miah (also Second Ward) as minority leader: "Council Dems tap Garriga, Miah as leaders."

It appears that the Democrats on the Council are using the same rationale in selecting Miah as they used back in 2011, defining minority based on gender or ethnicity rather than politics. Miah, who has served as Second Ward alderman since July 2007 when he took over the position vacated by Quintin Cross, is the only Bangladeshi American on the Council. If minority were being defined in a strictly political way, the minority leader might have been chosen from what now appears to be the minority faction of the Democratic Party, and the choices for minority leader would have been limited to those members of the Common Council who were endorsed by the HCDC, who ran as Democrats (and only as Democrats), who supported their fellow Democrats, and who won election as Democrats. But that would have limited the choices for minority leader to three: Rick Rector, Michael O'Hara, and John Friedman.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas to All!

To celebrate the holiday, Gossips is shutting down the computer, turning on the Christmas lights, and taking a couple of days off. Enjoy the holiday! Gossips will be back on Saturday with more news and musings. 

Meanwhile, as our holiday gift to readers, here are a pair of images that appeared in the Hudson Evening Register for December 24, 1915: "The Night Before Christmas" and "Christmas Morning."


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Changes for the New Year

With four of its nine members being ex officio (the mayor, the Common Council president, the majority leader, and the minority leader), the board of Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) often seems more an extension of city government than what it, in fact, is: a not-for-profit local development corporation that contributes its resources to the improvement of the city. Apparently, the same thought has occurred to members of the HDC board.

At a special meeting on Monday, December 21, the six members of the board present voted unanimously to amend HDC's bylaws to limit the ex officio members to twothe mayor and the Common Council presidentthereby eliminating, as ex officio members, the Common Council majority leader and minority leader. The size of the HDC board will remain the samefrom nine to fifteen membersthus allowing for a greater number of at large community members to serve on the HDC board. Currently members of the board are Duncan Calhoun, co-owner of The Barlow and Croff House; Brian Stickles, assistant vice president for commercial lending and business development at the Bank of Greene County; Eileen Halloran, former city treasurer; Christine Jones, caterer, food producer, and creative consultant for Olana Partnership events; and Carolyn Lawrence, realtor with Halstead Property and proprietor of Hudson B&B.

Remembrance of Winter Past

Our uncommonly warm weather in the first days of winter is setting all kinds of records. As a reminder of what winters along the Hudson used to be like, here is this little notice which appeared in the Hudson Evening Register for December 23, 1915.


News of the Waterfront

With Tiffany Martin Hamilton soon to take over as mayor of Hudson, many are looking forward to some movement in developing plans for the North Bay site known as the Furgary Boat Club, which the City seized back in 2012 and left abandoned ever since. In the meantime, there's news about an adjacent property: the lone survivor of the complex of buildings that was once the Hudson River Knitting Mill, now known as the Riverloft.

Kite's Nest announced today that they have accepted the donation of the building on the site where they have already established an urban garden and sustainability project. In an email communication, Kite's Nest had this to say about the new development; "Becoming stewards of the Riverloft Building allows us to dream big, to build a vision for a future that welcomes in our collaborating organizations as stakeholders and secures solid ground for our vision and community at a time when affordable space is rapidly becoming scarce in Hudson."

Drawing by Tony Kieraldo
The next year will taken up with research and planning for the building, during which process Kite's Nest will be "inviting everyone's voices to the table to create a roadmap for our future." That being accomplished, they will launch their first capital campaign "to bring that vision to life." 

Click here to learn about and support Kite's Nest's community vision and educational mission.

Good News on the Academic Front

John Mason reports today in the Register-Star that the graduation rate in the Hudson City School District is on the rise: "Hudson graduation rate at 10-year high."

Back to the Future

Once upon a time, from 1904 to 1975, the buildings that are now the Hudson Correctional Facility housed the New York State Training School for Girls. Girls between the ages of 12 and 15, whose usual offense was being "incorrigible," were sent to the training school with the goal of "becoming useful citizens and filling an honorable place in society."

Courtesy Columbia County Historical Society
It seems the Hudson Correctional Facility will soon have a role similar to its role in the past. The Register-Star reports today that "the Hudson Correction Facility will be turned into a prison primarily housing 16- and 17-year-olds as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo's new program to separate teenage inmates from the adult prison population." The report continues: "Male youth inmates from minimum and medium security facilities and female youth inmates from all state facilities will be transferred to the Hudson prison starting August 2016." Read the entire article here: "Hudson prison to house youth inmates."

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Turn Your Radios On

Tomorrow morning, on the day before the day before Christmas, on their WGXC radio show Something to Talk About, Justin Weaver and Holly Tanner will have as their guests Santa Claus and one of his elves (during that segment, you can call 518 828-0290 to ask Santa a question) and local cookie mogul Trixie Starr (a.k.a. Rich Volo, newly appointed Bingo Inspector for the City of Hudson). 

Also, on tomorrow's show, Weaver and Tanner will be revealing their ten "People of the Year" in Columbia County for 2015. You may be surprised who made the list. The show starts at 10 a.m. and can be heard at 90.7 FM or online at

Another Grant of Interest

When reporting on the grants announced in the Consolidated Funding Application process a couple of weeks ago, one grant awarded to a project of interest to us here in Hudson was overlooked. This was because the project was not considered in the Capital Region but in New York City. The SS Columbia was awarded a $500,000 Environmental Protection Fund Municipal Grant.

Click here to learn more about the SS Columbia Project and the effort underway to restore America's oldest surviving excursion steamship and return it to service on the Hudson River.