Wednesday, August 17, 2011

SOLD: Our Most Significant Historic Buildings

First, it was the birthplace of Hudson's most celebrated national hero, General William Jenkins Worth. Then, it was Hudson's oldest surviving house, the Robert Taylor House, at the head of Tanners Lane. Now, it is Hudson's most revered and beloved, most abused and reviled historic building, 400 State Street. All have been acquired by T. Eric Galloway, the man who, according to his own spokesperson, "doesn't like old things."

Tonight, the Board of Trustees of the Hudson Area Association Library, after an executive session that lasted slightly more than twenty minutes, reopened their regular monthly meeting to the public to propose and pass unanimously two resolutions.

The first authorized Theresa Parsons, president of the library board, or Mark Orton, vice president of the library board, to sign a contract to sell 400 State Street to Galvan Partners, LLC, for $476,500. The resolution was long and complicated, with lots of language that presumably will be part of the contract of sale. There was mention of restoring the building "to its Federal period grandeur" (What grandeur? The building was built in 1818 to be Hudson's poor house), suggesting that the library board is condoning what will doubtless be Galloway's plan to strip away all of the building's genuinely historic Victorian detail in favor of introducing new elements that imitate those that appear in the earliest surviving image of the building--this one, from Rural Repository, which shows the building as it looked during the period (1830-1850) when it was the Hudson Lunatic Asylum. 

The resolution also contained language about the building being used for some purpose that benefits the community, which gives a wee bit of credibility to the rumor that the library board may have the expectation that Galvan Partners/Eric Galloway will restore the building and then give it back to the library.  

The resolution also gives the library board the option, after they've sold the building, to lease it back from Galvan Partners for six months at a cost of $1 a month, to give them time to refit their new digs, which were identified in the second resolution that was passed unanimously tonight.

According to the second resolution, there are two possibilities for leasing alternative space. Both involve 217 Warren Street--Hudson Electrical Supply, owned by Hudson mayoral candidate Nick Haddad--and both are five-year leases with an option to renew for an additional five years. The first possibility is to lease the first and second floors of the building, excluding the unfinished space in the building's "west wing" (behind the little off-street parking lot), for $3,500 a month. The second possibility is to lease the first floor only, including the unfinished space, for $2,475 a month. 

It is rumored that our current mayor, Rick Scalera, played a central role in working the deal that delivered one of Hudson's most significant historic buildings into the hands of someone whose actions to date have shown little respect for the integrity of Hudson's historic architecture. If that is true, it wouldn't be surprising. What is surprising, and for that reason all the more distressing, is the role that Haddad played in enabling the library board to carry out their plan to abandon the library's historic building.  


  1. Oh dear. Let's hope for the best.

    -- Jock Spivy

  2. "The role that Haddad played in enabling the library board to carry out their plan to abandon the library's historic building." What are you implying Carole? That somehow Nick had something to do with the Library's decision to sell their building? I spoke to Nick this morning over coffee (as you may know I've represented Nick in the past in my capacity as a lawyer) and asked him about this post. It should be pointed out that a) Nick is not associated with the Library in any manner except as a citizen of the municipality in which it is located and as an occasional visitor to the Library; b) the Library came to Nick, he didn't offer them anything -- he owns a building, they needed some space, Nick thought it was a good thing to keep the Library in Hudson (the other reported alternative was out on the far-northern edge of the 5th Ward, nearly in Greenport and farther away from the City's schools and many of its children.

    I like your blog, Carole, and I feel I rely on it as one of the unbiased sources of Hudson news. But this statement,suggesting that somehow Nick conspired to attract or otherwise tempt the Library board to make whatever decision they made is unwarranted. He's doing a good thing by making his space available to the Library to keep it here, in the center of the constituency it serves, in Hudson. Frankly, given your well established command of the language, I'm a bit upset by this statement.

  3. John--If you had more history with Hudson, you would know my history with the library and with this building, and you would better understand that on this issue I can be expected to be something less than unbiased. My previous posts about the library's move should have been sufficient to clue you in to my feelings about this decision by the library board.

    As for the statement you take issue with, "enable" means simply to make possible, to supply the means. The library couldn't leave their historic building if they had no place suitable to go, so by agreeing to rent space to the library, Nick Haddad supplied the means. I made no suggestion that he conspired to attract or tempt the library or any of the other things you suggest I implied.

    The library's abandoning 400 State Street is a turn of events that breaks my heart. It trashes years of passion and effort on my part and the part of many others and negates things people worked very hard to achieve. To have someone you hope would be sympathetic to your position be part, in any way, of making what you find objectionable happen rubs salt in the wound. It is exactly what I said in was--surprising and distressing.

  4. I get it Carole -- and I respect it (your passion on this subject). I really do. But I respectfully believe you're stretching what Nick did (which was, again, nothing except to own a building that the Library believes might be of use to it) to think of it as the provision of means. Consider what your reaction might have been had the Library approached Nick requesting the space and he'd said "no." I suspect that your analysis puts Nick between a rock and hard place -- I know you feel upset and hurt by the Library's decision but I don't think your blaming Nick in any way is quite equitable.

  5. I notice the old picture has no trees!!

  6. Isn't this the present plague of americas corporation takeover - they buy up smaller honest situations, then dis-embowl them, to become a shadow self of their true meaning - ultimately diminishing the value of the whole.

  7. I suppose that one way of looking at the sad situation is to say that the Library board doesn't deserve to have the building ( any more than past library boards, ignoring her knowledge and usually turning deaf ears to Carole's pleas, when she was on the board) deserved to have it since they were for so long such neglectful stewards of it. One had hoped that a corner had been turned when some restoration was begun a while ago, but now that too seems to have become a car crash. What direction the new driver of this estimable building, that enshrines within its walls so much of Hudson's history and so a portion of its soul, will take can only be guessed, but a walk around the city looking for the ghosts of lost facades and counting new-minted temples may make guessing not too hard. I should imagine the lions will be the first to go, either to the highest bidder, or to grace some Greco-Hudson temple portico.