Monday, July 11, 2011

White Plastic Fences

A few years ago, the Historic Preservation Commission agonized over the installation of a white plastic fence and a handicapped ramp with a white plastic balustrade at the church on the corner of Union Street and City Hall Place--once the First Baptist Church, now the Rock Solid Church. Peter Wurster, code enforcement officer, had given the church a building permit for the ramp without referring it to the HPC for a certificate of appropriateness, because, as he explained at the time, he always gave building permits to churches without question. Installing the fence, it seemed, didn't require a building permit.

Now the HPC is troubled by another white plastic fence--the one that's been installed behind J. Damiani Gallery (237 Warren Street), adjacent to Thurston Park. It's visible from Warren Street, and many people have expressed their displeasure with it.

Plastic fences may be a thorny issue for the Historic Preservation Commission. The HPC steadfastly maintains that they are not the "taste police." Although some of their decisions suggest that they are more concerned with "historic presentation" than historic preservation, their charge is to protect the integrity of Hudson's historic architecture. A white plastic fence here and there doesn't seem to threaten the authentic architectural fabric of the city--at least not in the way that removing genuinely historic details from a house in favor of newly fabricated elements that return it to someone's undocumented idea of how it originally looked does--but the proliferation of white plastic fences and their glaring inappropriateness next to anything other than Barbie's Dream House suggest that perhaps, in order to preserve the historic character of Hudson, the City should simply ban white plastic fences altogether.  


  1. Oh I wish they would ban them altogether. They are a terrible eye-sore glittering in the sun. The church one is particularily awful.

  2. I hate them too, but I think they should be dealt with through normal code-making process, not the HPC. Trouble is, as Carole suggests, HPC has lost some of its credibility by not hoving to its "historic preservation" mission. But the City Council surely has much right to ban ugly plastic fences as it has to ban fences over 6-feet high.

  3. I really like the white fence around the church. It looks neat and clean. I also like the fence next to the old bocci court it is practical and safe for the children. Sounds to me like you would like to live in a gated community where you set the rules. Thank God we live in America where we can choose what we want on our property. What is great about vinyl, is it doesn't rot and never needs painting. Saving the church money and is eye appealing to most.

  4. They shatter so nicely when hit by a car but what a mess to clean up.

    Just more plastic for a plastic country.