Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Touch of Galloway: Exhibits 2 & 3

Two houses on the northwest corner of Union and South Second streets will be considered together, because they were owned together by two previous owners, they were purchased together by Eric Galloway, and they were transformed together, by him, in 2003 or thereabouts.

This is a detail from an aerial photograph of Hudson, very likely taken in the 1930s, which shows the two houses probably little altered from what they looked like when they were built.

Here are the two houses today.

The evidence suggests that 130 Union Street started out as a fairly simple early 19th-century asymmetrical, side hall vernacular house, but it's been transformed into this pseudo-Greek Revival confection. The addition of columns to this house took place at about the same time that the massive two-story columned portico was being installed at Galloway's own house in the 300 block of Allen Street, inspiring some punsters to suggest that Galloway suffered from "Tara-ette syndrome."

When I moved to Hudson in 1993, 136 Union Street was enrobed in stucco, an early solution perhaps, predating aluminum and vinyl siding, to the problem of having to repaint clapboard. The owners before Galloway, who had embarked on a painstaking restoration of the building, removed the stucco to reveal this elegantly simple five bay house with some Victorianizing details: the cornice and the door surround.

Galloway transformed the house--with imagination, some salvaged Colonial Revival elements, and lots of dentils--into an architectural confection that defies analysis by anyone armed only with McAlesters' Field Guide to American Houses. It's an early 19th-century house, but there is little evidence of that to be found on the exterior of the building.

In the transformation, too, 136 Union, as well as 130 Union, sprouted a second house attached at the back. At 130, the smaller house is accessed by a path alongside the larger house, but at 136, the smaller house fronts on South Second Street and has its own address: 15 South Second. At the time the second house was built, there were no regulations in Hudson about the subdivision of property, and 136 Union and 15 South Second are now listed separately in the tax rolls. There were--and still are--code restrictions about the percentage of a lot that can be taken up by buildings. It would seem that this project should have required an area variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals, but I don't recall it ever going before the ZBA.

There is no doubt that this corner looks better now than it did before, and there is no question that the people who live in the buildings now are better neighbors than those who inhabited them a decade ago. (In the mid-1990s, 136 Union was a notorious crack house, even offering its customers a "drive-up window" on the Second Street side.) But for a city with enviable historic architecture, that's not exactly the point. As a commenter on this blog said in reference to the proposed restoration of Washington Hose, "Hudson has real history." We don't need to--nor should we--"tart up" our historic buildings and turn them into something they never were.


  1. Dear Historic Friends,

    Time changes things, and our collective memories with photos will never tell the whole story. I am sure if the walls could talk they would say thank you to any restoration and appreciated the “new” old self.

    So, as I see it, Eric Galloway is not responsible for the changes as referenced in “we don’t need to nor should we tarp up our historic buildings and turn them into something they never were”.

    You see, I was born here. And, I remember when I was young and Clarence drove the city bus, we kids, for 10 cents could ride the bus from the Boulevards to the river and back. And, we were allowed to.

    Then came Grants, Jamesway, and progress, and the Ma and Pa stores closed one by one. I remember a time when nearly all of Warren Street was boarded up as if awaiting a horrific hurricane, Deserted. And, than, the drugs and the prostitutes began to capture every street corner, where very, very few Hudsonians would dare to venture passed 4th street. The corner of Union and Second, as well as many other corners, had already been lost or forfeited to the increase crime of our neighborhoods. Can you image the decay, the garbage, the deterioration that was inside those crack houses you refer to?

    I say, Thank you Eric Galloway for saving so much. I do not always agree with you, but I know when a Thank You is deserved.

    Barbara Ponkos-Merola

  2. Amen barbara. Mr Galloway deserves recognition not criticism all the time from certain people. By the way, how much does he pay in property taxes and how much more are the new owners of his projects paying in taxes? Answer is: A whole bunch. thank you sir andhudson thanks you.

  3. Eric Galloway did the cosmetic finishing but it was the prior owner, who saved it from being a crack house, removed the pink plaster and exposed the clapboard showing the wonderful bones of the house. He also opened up the house inside to its original center hall form four over four form. He did have to put up with the odd buyers pulling up and looking for the crack window in the beginning but building a fence and planting out the garden where the new building on 2nd street now stands, helped to improve the neighborhood before Mr. Galloway appeared on the scene. I don't know if the house retains its original classical form inside now. In any event that corner of 2nd and Union is an amazing change to those of us who remember.

  4. It's my understanding the house on the corner was an early example of austere sophisticated Quaker design - totally lost in the new souped up 'disneyland' version of 'gentile.'

    The one next door with the faux antebellum 'look' had it's original chimney stack of seven fireplaces ripped out for more floor space.

  5. Perspective is relative to perception, and perceptions are subject to incredible leaps of fancy, especially when fogged by nostalgia. Whatever the ups and downs of Hudson, it is totally and utterly unacceptable to heap praise on Galloway for what he did on 2nd and Union, however incrementally better it is than a crack house. We shouldn't give up our architectural history for such a cheap price. Nobody is "saving Hudson" when plastic surgery is their preferred method of beautifying. The Apollonian beauty of many of our buildings isn't improved upon by adding fake breasts and spray tans, just as they aren't by housing crackheads and broken dreams.

  6. "original", that it is, to when I moved here.... ;)

  7. Very often the original facades of these "restorations" fade from memory if I don't have picture of it- but I will never forget that pink stucco!

  8. OK, Who was going to fix the dilapidated houses that were falling down? I didn't see others trying to fix them or bring them back to their architectural culture either..I don't know Galway or his Partnership and all of the inside politics of his movement, but all I know is no one else was doing anything. And really, do we know what the original was on all these bldgs? Thy could have been redone thru out the years..