Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Do You Know Who Designed the C-GCC Campus?
An obituary appeared in the New York Times today for an architect named Edgar Tafel, who died last week at the age of 98. I learned from the obituary that Tafel was "among the best known of Frank Lloyd Wright's many apprentices." As an apprentice to Wright, he worked on Fallingwater, in rural Pennsylvania, and the Johnson Wax Building, in Racine, Wisconsin. Among Tafel's many projects, after establishing his own office in the late 1940s, are a church house for the First Presbyterian Church at Fifth Avenue and 12th Street in Greenwich Village, completed in 1960 and considered to be his best work, and the campus of Columbia-Greene Community College.
Posted by Carole Osterink at 3:51 PM
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The site of the CGCC was an 18th c dutch farm with the dutch house and a not very old barn still standing.ReplyDelete
Allegedly attempts were made to save the house but that small piece of square footage was intrinsic to the design of the campus and just had to go.
The NYS museum salvaged the stone set into the base of the fireplace that had the date of the structures birth carved into it. The barn was left standing as a compromise.
The site of the house became tennis courts.
The barn was leveled years later without fan fair.
And to think . . . when C-GCC was established, they were encouraged to use the turn-of-the-century campus of the Girls' Training School, now the Hudson Correctional Facility. Imagine that. Those beautiful buildings would have made the core of a spectacular campus, in the City of Hudson, within walking distance for a huge number of students, and the world would still have an important 18th-century Dutch farm. Instead we have a community college that everyone must drive to that no one (at least no one I know) knew was designed by an important architect until his obituary appeared in the New York Times.ReplyDelete
Wouldn't it be nice to have a do-over for the early 1970s?
I know well the Parish House for the Presbyterian Church on West 12th Street and Fifth Avenue (opposite Forbes Magazine). It is indeed a successful building and works will with the older structure of the church.ReplyDelete
I'm less certain (perhaps because I'm less familiar with the campus) that the C-GCC campus works as well.
It is a pity that the handsome girls' school wasn't available for the Community College. But given the imminent closing (according to the new Governor) of upstate prisons -- and the Hudson prison must be a good candidate, with c. 275 prisoners and c. 225 staff -- it might become available for other uses quite soon.
-- Jock Spivy
Jock--It WAS available for the community college. It was vacant when C-GCC was being created, and the founders, whoever they were, were encouraged to use it, but they didn't want it.ReplyDelete
That's really interesting. When did the school become the prison?ReplyDelete
-- Jock Spivy
I should have a better handle on all these dates because of the implications for the Dr. Oliver Bronson House, but I don't. Here's what I remember. The last superintendent of the Girls' Training School was brought in, I've been told by his children, to shut the place down. This was in the late 1960s. The seal of C-GCC indicates that it was established in 1966. I expect it existed before its campus was built, but I've never noted the cornerstones of any of the buildings, so I may be wrong. I have to believe, however, that when C-GCC was being conceptualized, it was known that the Girls' Training School wasn't long for this world. They're both state institutions.ReplyDelete
I can't remember exactly when the Girls' Training School was closed, but the entire campus--including the Bronson House--was abandoned for a few years before the state decided to use the site as a prison, which I think happened in 1973. It was during these years that the vandalism to the Bronson House occurred.
Today's Registar Star has the AP obituary of Edgar Tafel, and it fails to include mention of CGCC.ReplyDelete
Fascinating...Curious to know more about the reasons the college founders passed up what seems to have been a 'bird-in-the-hand' opportunity to re-use the Girls 'Training School' aka prison for juvenile females. Also, anybody know who designed/built the Girls School? For a film project several years ago I did some research on the Boys 'Training School' in Greene County, now Coxsackie Correctional, a maximum state prison for men. That building, also built on the site of an old Dutch farm - the Bronk Farm to be exact - was a WPA project I believe and still looks more like a college campus than a prison from a distance. It also became a state prison in the 60's. This is pure and perhaps silly speculation but I wonder if both sites were 'available' to the CGCC founders and politics/competition led to neither site being chosen....ReplyDelete
Janet: If the obit doesn't mention the C-GCC campus, it makes you wonder why the Register-Star bothered to print it.ReplyDelete