Monday, December 20, 2010

Hudson: An Early Planned Community

Whenever a historic preservation issue comes up in the Common Council, there is usually at least one person who can be counted on to declare that any attempt to regulate what people do with their buildings is "un-American." The notion that Hudson's historic architecture is a community resource and that current building owners have a responsilibity to the community and to history holds little sway against the conviction that owners have the right to do what they will with their property.

I was reminded of this modern-day attitude among some Hudsonians when I was browsing recently in the late Margaret Schram's book Hudson's Merchants and Whalers: The Rise and Fall of a River Port 1783-1850. Schram makes reference to the minutes from a meeting held by the Proprietors on May 14, 1784--specifically to these details reported by Anna Bradbury in The History of the City of Hudson: "A committee of six, of which Seth Jenkins was chairman, was appointed to 'regulate streets, and to attend in a particular manner to the fixings of the buildings uniformly.' It was also voted 'that no person should fix his house without such direction from a majority of the committee as they might think proper;' and that 'No person should extend his steps more than four feet from his door or sellar [sic] ways.'"

Fix in this context, of course, means "to place or situate" not "to repair," but, as Schram observes, Hudson started out as a "very planned development." 

1 comment:

  1. You are correct, Carole--"fixing of buildings" did not mean "repair." But neither did it mean that the city government regulated, for example, the style of doorways and windows, which is precisely the kind of thing historic commissions seek to regulate today.