Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Not to Be Missed

On his blog, Scott Baldinger weighs in on the project proposed for Union and First streets: "Between a Rock and a HardiPlank." Baldinger comes out strongly in favor of authentic materials, but the materials may not be the whole problem. Do the faux Greek Revival houses on Willard Place, which are sided with real wood, appear more authentic than the house at South Second Street and Cherry Alley, which is sided with Hardiplank? 

The Historic Preservation Commission should definitely prohibit the use of faux grained Hardiplank in Hudson's historic districts, but the old-growth timber from which houses were built in the 18th and 19th centuries is no longer available, and the inferior quality of the wood marketed today has prompted no less than Julian Adams, Community Liaison and Certified Local Government Coordinator for the New York State Historic Preservation Office, to suggest, a few years ago in a lecture sponsored by Historic Hudson, that historic preservation commissions may need to reconsider the acceptability of new materials, among them Hardiplank, in historic districts.

What's odd though is that Kevin Walker, who used the inferiority of the wood available today to support using Hardiplank siding on the houses proposed for Union and First streets, never had any qualms about replacing old wood windows, made from old-growth timber, with new wood windows, made from the inferior wood available today.   


  1. Inferior wood, first time I heard that one. It's pretty scary if trees growing for eons suddenly became inferior in 200 years. I think the old stuff rots just as well as the modern version.

  2. I quote from an article written by preservation architects Walter Sedovic and Jill Gotthelf, which was published in the Journal of Preservation Technology. They are talking about wood windows, but what they say about wood goes for wood siding as well:

    "One of the great virutes of historic windows in the quality of the wood with which they were constructed. Historic windows incorporate both hardwoods and softwoods that were often harvested from unfertilized early-growth stock. Such wood has a denser, more naturally occurring grain structure than what is generally available today from second-growth stock or fertilized tree farms. Also, historically, greater concern was given to milling methods, such as quarter- or radial sawing."

  3. You do a wonderful job with this site, but sorry: it's just this kind of needless obsession that gives the anti-preservationists unfortunate credence.

    Have you not noticed some of the disgusting hovels that escape the wrecking ball because of historical protection? Time for some coherence here. And let's not forget what kind of taxes this once empty lot likely pays, being on the south side of Warren.

  4. OK. I've gotten enough comments to convince me that a clarification is needed. My information is that there are two kinds of Hardiplank: one with a faux wood grain, which was used on the orange building at Warren and Front streets, and one without the faux wood grain. The latter was used on Crosswinds, 13 South Second Street, and probably elsewhere. My recommendation was that the use of Hardiplank with faux wood grain be prohibited in Hudson since it is very unrealistic, and frankly looks more like vinyl siding with faux wood grain than anything in nature.

  5. And, I think Hardiplank of any sort should be prohibited when making repairs to genuinely old houses. It's the use of Hardiplank for new construction in historic districts that's at issue.