Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Brousseau Building

During last week's @Issue broadcast about the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, Tom Swope, the foundation's executive director, explained that up until now it had been "hard to justify economically" developing all the properties Eric Galloway had acquired, but now, "under the the guise of the foundation, we can make it make sense." (Guise was Swope's choice of words; a better word might have been auspices.) The property that seems to be one of the first in line for development is 202-204 Warren Street--the Brousseau Building. In recent months, the interior of this building, warehoused since 2005, has been completely gutted.    

The Brousseau Building was designed by Hudson architect Michael O'Connor, whose work includes the Allen Street School, the original Firemen's Home, Midwood, and several residences in the neighborhood of the courthouse. It was built as an apartment house, with six apartments, two on each floor. The building has two entrances, each with two doors: one opens into the first floor apartment; the other accesses the staircase leading to the apartments on the upper two floors.    

Sarah Sterling 2005
One of the first things Galloway did after acquiring the building--even before he evicted the tenants--was remove the porticos. At the time, Kevin Walker, Galloway's former majordomo, justified the action by saying that the porticos threatened public safety and the columns were in storage, presumably to be returned to the building at some future time.

Galloway's first plan for the building was to convert it into two enormous townhouses, with commercial or professional space on the ground floor and living space on the two floors above. When the plan was initially presented to the Historic Preservation Commission, it involved altering the facade to introduce larger storefront windows on the ground floor, adding a balustrade at the roof line that was never part of the original design, and changing the entrances so that each would have only one door. The HPC rejected the windows and the balustrade but accepted the changes proposed for the entrances, which included newly designed porticos and new columns. When asked if Galloway could be required to replicate the original porticos using the original columns, Swope, then chair of the HPC, rejected the idea, saying that the altered doorways required different porticos that would better complement them. 

Last week Swope revealed that the current plan for the Brousseau Building is to keep it as six apartments, with two live/work units on the ground floor. He intimated that the Galvan Initiatives Foundation would again seek a certificate of appropriateness to alter the facade by introducing larger storefront windows on the ground floor but made assurances that the porticos would be reinstated. It is not clear if the intention is to design new porticos or to re-create the original porticos using the original columns, but since there is now no need to alter the entrances from two doorways to one, there is no justification for redesigning the porticos.

Back in 1995, Lynn Davis photographed this building as part of her monumentally significant Warren Street Project. Davis has graciously given Gossips permission to reproduce the photograph here to remind everyone what the missing porticos looked like and perhaps to help Swope locate and identify the missing columns in Galloway's storage building.

© Lynn Davis 1995


  1. Since the mission of the Galvan Initiatives Foundation is to conserve and maintain buildings of architectural, historic and social significance in Hudson then the missing columns should appear forthright. Right? I assume the live/work units will be getting a tax credit? Most do. And, the other apartments will be market rate?

  2. Thank you and Lynn for this picture of the original porticos, which were columns standing on beautiful cut marble block plinths.

    These porticos were one of my all time favorites of Hudsons architectural beauty.

    When I asked Kevin Walker why he was removing them his response was that they were not original and that there was originally a storefront instead.

    Clearly this was wrong. The newly exposed lintels were set for the porticos.

    Turns out the plans were based on a pen and ink aerial view of Hudson. On this site was a building with a storefront. It predated the present building designed by O'Conner.

    They had no idea what they were doing but the lure of a first floor storefront was the goal.

  3. I rather like the notion that the Galvan foundation is doing whatever it is doing "under the guise" of attention to historical accuracy. "Under the guise" of friendship Brutus concealed duplicity. Though that wasn't a very good disguise, was it? Nor is this.

  4. "Duplicity"? Not on your life.

    In a postmodern world we can finally appreciate that it was just Brutus's interpretation of "friendship" ("interpretation" being the true Galvan mission!).

    Happy ides!

  5. The Independent, Friday, June 13, 2003
    By Diana Ladden
    HUDSON — A measure creating a commission to establish and
    preserve landmarks and historic districts in Hudson was
    signed into law Tuesday by Mayor Richard Scalera.
    Under the new law, no one who owns a building designated
    as historic, or lying in a defined historic district, can proceed
    with exterior work that could change the appearance of
    the building or the cohesiveness of the district, without the
    Commission’s okay.
    - - - - - - - - -
    official web site
    SEC :Historic Preservation
    2nd paragraph
    It was a boom town for the first decades of its existence and much of its form and structure was created in that first period reflecting the taste for Greek Revival of the time. Subsequently many of these structures were altered, so the facades along Warren Street present a variety of styles from the late 18th into the early 20th Century. Hudson has been called "one of the richest dictionaries of architectural history in New York State." Hudson was one of the first planned cities in the country and its grid of streets reflects Enlightenment values.
    What makes Hudson exceptional is its preservation; its urban core is intact and was not cut up by highways and access ramps or destroyed for new construction as happened in so many other cities. In general, the character and appearance of the city has remained unchanged for nearly a century. This is why historic preservation is so important to Hudson's future. The Historic Preservation Law was created to maintain the unique historic character that has made Hudson so special to all of its residents.
    In 2003 the City of Hudson enacted local law No. 3 establishing the Historic Preservation Commission. The Commission was charged with the task of identifying and protecting the city's most historically significant structures and neighborhoods. Like so many other communities across New York State, Hudson has determined that the protection, enhancement, and maintenance of the city's historic character, so readily apparent in its beautiful buildings and streetscapes, is critically important to the economic health and general welfare of
    the the community.

  6. Tuesday, March 2, 2010
    Work Has Begun at Hudson Terrace
    Gossips of Rivertown
    [Although on a very different set of circumstances,I have been haunted by the Comments that followed.Also in reading this series of articles Carole Osterink wrote on this subject,I was surprised to know how long Attn.Roberts has been actively aware of HPC Code]
    PeterMar 2, 2010 02:45 PM
    Carole, has Hudson's historic preservation backbone turned to jelly? It seems that these kinds of open violations of rules are happening more frequently than ever (yes? no?). If they need a certificate and they didn't get one, shouldn't they be arrested? Should someone call the cops?
    vincentMar 2, 2010 06:42 PM

    Peter - Carole can confirm - my understanding is that before the preservation committee went valid our mayor made sure that they had no power - at that time our building inspector was forced out through pay starvation and then our present inspector was put in place by - drum roll here - the same mayor. The present inspector is a great guy but could care two hoots about preservation appropriateness - at the mayors bidding of course. Galloway is a savior we all just don't appreciate enough......
    Carole OsterinkMar 2, 2010 09:45 PM
    The Historic Preservation Commission has no policing power. The code enforcement officer is responsible for enforcing the preservation laws along with the zoning laws and building codes. That's not an unusual situation, and, to be honest, it's really not surprising that our CEO missed the nuance that noncontributing structures in a historic district are subject to HPC review just as contributing structures are.
    But here's the thing. As reported on this blog, I emailed the Historic Preservation Commission on February 6 to ask if Hudson Terrace had applied for a certificate of appropriateness. I went to their meeting on February 12 to raise the issue again. Yet it was only yesterday, after I emailed the HPC again, this time copying the city attorney assigned to that commission, that the chair of the HPC sent an email to the CEO informing him of the problem.
    vincentMar 2, 2010 11:37 PM
    Thank you Carole - I see the problem is not as easily explained as I thought.
    john friedman Mar 3, 2010 08:33 AM
    If the code enforcement officer is not doing his job has the idea of suing for a writ of mandamus (a court order to do the job) been discussed? it seems appropriate and might even shame some action out of the City?
    Carole Osterink Mar 3, 2010 09:12 AM
    John--People tend to walk on eggshells when it comes to the historic preservation ordinance in Hudson--for good reason. Mayor Scalera has been quoted as saying that signing that legislation was the biggest mistake he ever made--or words to that effect. Early on he suspended the law and made some changes that transferred some of the power usually vested in a historic preservation commission to the Common Council (having to do with designating landmarks and historic districts). The fear is that if preservationists make too much trouble, the mayor might try to repeal the law altogether.
    current HPC Code
    § 169-14 Role of Building Inspector.
    The Building Inspector, in issuing permits, shall determine whether referral to the Historic Preservation is necessary. The Historic Preservation Commission shall notify the Building Inspector of all determinations
    I just keep thinking of the
    1962 novel by Ray Bradbury
    I read as a kid
    "Something Wicked This Way Comes"

  7. "something wicked this way comes" = ....

    1. Vincent,I apologise ,the end your comment3/2/2010 was
      " but what i wanted to say is;
      gawd - these buildings are even uglier in a pic!"
      You were referring to Hudson Terrace on Front St
      I could not agree with you more.
      I just did not want any confusion
      as this was about the history of HPC
      and their power to make GalVan, the City of Hudson
      or anyone else comply to HPC code
      code is LAW
      The issue is the The Brousseau Building and return of the portico's.
      As you say above
      "These portico's were one of my all time favorites
      of Hudson's architectural beauty."
      The most important element
      for exterior restoration of the The Brousseau Building,
      ironically Galvan has caused themselves,
      by removing the portico's in the first place
      Why would they do such a thing
      and who allowed them , to a historic building in a historic district
      by a known architect?
      Swope as HPC chair OKed Galloway to change original 2 doors to one
      so then the original portico's would no longer be appropriate
      "When asked if Galloway could be required to replicate the original portico's
      using the original columns,
      Swope, then chair of the HPC, rejected the idea,
      saying that the altered doorways required different portico's
      that would better complement them."
      The double entrances and its portico's
      with the proportion of existing windows
      with thier stone sills and splayed lintels with keystone
      & block modillions under eaves
      are much of what makes
      this Residential Building so unique and graceful.
      Complex in it's simplicity.

    2. The only things they should be discussing
      is restoration of existing original windows &
      existing double entrance doors,re pointing
      &returning the original portico's as they were.
      GaLvan is trying to get HPC to let them REMODEL BLDG exterior
      with Storefronts , to suit their rent roll(That HPC rejected before.)
      All against HPC Code
      is this a negotiation with the LAW?
      Are they saying,we have the portico's,which we removed
      and we will put them back
      but HPC has to let us make Storefronts on this historic building
      designed to be completely Residential.
      or what?They'll set the portico's on fire?
      They suddenly won't be able to find them?
      HPC has to nip this in the bud immediately.
      This is GaLvan's first move,with Swope at the helm.
      Swope just resigned as Chair for HPC
      he knows better,so no excuses.
      Let this slide and there will be no stopping them
      or anyone else.
      The new members of HPC and C.C
      should be on this immediately
      and the proposed Senior Extension to be attached
      to a historic Church in a Historic District
      that is need of restoration.
      Again, if HPC doesn't draw a line in the sand\
      and hold their ground
      with the "City" itself and GaLvan
      lets them just go ahead
      like they did with Worth Building
      then our Laws mean nothing
      and we as citizens will have no means
      to protect our Architectural Heritage going forward
      There are very important buildings on the line right now
      and more in the near future.
      HPC can not let the" City "
      decide who gets to break the LAW
      and who doesn't
      because of power & money
      by aiding and abetting them