Thursday, February 2, 2012

Where's Venus?

On Tuesday night, a group interested in improving the area of Warren and Columbia streets east of Seventh Street gathered in the back room of Wunderbar to share ideas. The meeting had been organized and was chaired by Third Ward alderman John Friedman. Among the issues discussed were street lighting, sidewalks, trash receptacles, the truck route, the St. Charles Hotel, but what inspired the group most was the notion of restoring and improving Seventh Street Park. Marshall Trachtenberg, who owns the pair of firehouses on Park Place (originally Edmonds and Phoenix) introduced the issue, saying that a "big catalyst [for businesses in the area] would be to develop the park." 

Just as the park is the focal point of the neighborhood, the fountain is the focal point of the park. Any discussion of restoring the park invariably comes around to talking about the fate of the original fountain and the desire to restore it, and last night's discussion was no exception.  

As is usual when the current fountain (pun intended) is discussed, disparaging remarks were made about the "Danger: High Voltage" warning signs in the fountain and the "lion cage" fence that surrounds it. Comparing what once was there with what is there now, one wonders when and why the original fountain was replaced. 

The plaques affixed to the fence inform us that the fountain is called "Inspiration Fountain" and was given to the City of Hudson by the Greater Hudson Kiwanis Club, the same folks who gave us the Olympic Torch Memorial at the intersection of Columbia, Green, and State streets. The fountain is dedicated to Seth Jenkins, the first mayor of Hudson, to commemorate the bicentennial of Hudson in 1985.

On Tuesday night, a question has asked that is often asked when the original fountain is discussed: "Where is it now?" Here's the answer--to the best of my knowledge. 

When the original fountain was removed, the statue of Venus was filled with cement so that it could be displayed independently and installed in the northwest corner of the park. In that spot, it was hit more than once by cars careening out of control from the intersection of Columbia and Seventh streets, so, in 1994 or 1995, Venus was removed from the park. After its disappearance, it was rumored that the statue was being stored in a garage behind 444 Warren Street, which at the time was owned by Hudson Development Corporation. This, however, was not confirmed--at least not by me--until 2006, when HDC sold the building and the contents of the garage were being removed by DPW workers. There, tucked away in a corner and covered with what appeared to be an old bedspread, was Venus, waiting to be transported to her new home. 

That new home was a DPW garage on North Second Street, but the question was asked on Tuesday night, by Common Council President Don Moore, if the statue was still there. So Gossips contacted DPW Superintendent Rob Perry to inquire about the statue's whereabouts. Perry confirmed that Venus was still in the DPW garage where it had been placed in 2006 and provided these pictures as evidence.

The fate of the fountain's pedestal is another story. It was reportedly hauled off to Gold's Scrap Yard, then located in the 300 block of Columbia Street, where it was pulverized.


  1. An ambitious and worthy, but I fear horribly expensive, project.

    Good luck!

    Jock Spivy

  2. The contrast in the postcard/photo above says it all. How beautiful it once was and how far it has fallen. I think it's great that the statue still exists even in damaged form. Surely an effort could be made to restore it and recreate a pedestal. It is indeed a pivotal point of any renaissance of the 7th Street Park area and it would be inspiring (Inspiration Park - Ha!)

  3. The contrast between the postcard/photo of the fountain above says it all. How far we have fallen in 100 years. It is great though that the statue still exists and surely it is worthy of restoration and an effort could be made to create a pedestal base. Big fundraising effort no doubt. The fountain is the pivotal part of the 7th Street Park and regeneration of the area as a whole could depend on it.

  4. This would be the perfect pilot philanthropic restoration project for GalVan Initiatives
    Foundation, Inc.for Hudson,as Hudson does not have the funds for this.Gal Van, funding this project , would be true to their mission statement.It would benefit all of Hudson at once.Its citizens, young and old, rich or poor,businesses and visitors alike.
    Tom Swope ,GalVan Initiatives Foundation, Inc Executive Director,has a background in art history , sculpture and historic preservation.The design and construction of original park are well documented.Venus could rise again from the DPW garage and fountain replicated and restored.
    Only a short time ago the shops around the Park were practically deserted.Now the Italian Deli ,John Doe ,Grazin ,Park Falafel Sideshow,Acres Coop,Radio station WGXC,Photographic Solutions have joined the few stores that remained on south Side of Warren. Marina Abramovic’s Performance Art Center is slated for the old indoor tennis center,and also new businesses joining existing ones above the Park on Warren.The great and varied uses this cental park should & could provide for everyone is endless.It could attract an investor into restoring the ST.Charles Hotel to its original glory,for instance.
    Now with this new energy brought by the 3rd Ward electing John K.Friedman as Councilman along with Chris Wagoner and the immense talent pool in Hudson and this being the right time of year to begin;How could GalVan say no?

  5. I had the same thought--that it would be a perfect project for Galvan. It would be a true gift to Hudson and great PR for Galvan.