Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Jane's Walk: Site 29

The pursuit of another architectural survivor, like the Promenade Hill fence, takes us to Columbia Memorial Hospital. In recent decades, the hospital's track record with historic preservation has been checkered at best. It's been responsible for two very regrettable losses: an Arts & Crafts house on Columbia Street with beautifully intact original interior woodwork, which was demolished when the parking garage was built in 2004, and a very old house farther along on Columbia Street, where according to legend Martin Van Buren once had his law office, which was demolished around 2003, without fanfare or any obvious reason. The hospital has also been associated with one significant save: the mansion that now houses the Cavell Cancer Treatment Program. 

Columbia Memorial Hospital started out in 1893 as Hudson City Hospital. The first hospital consisted of six beds and a fracture table and was run by a nurse who had trained at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. It was located in this house on North Fifth Street, now owned by Phil Gellert.

In 1900, the hospital moved to its present location on Prospect Avenue and into a building constructed to be a hospital.  

A decade later, the hospital made its first expansion, constructing a new building beside the original building. In this picture of the newer building, the 1900 building can still be seen at the far right.

According to the history provided on the hospital's website, "A $5.5 million expansion [in the 1970s] was undertaken to eliminate the need for the original 1900 building." That seems to be a nice way to avoid saying that the original building was demolished in the 1970s. Happily, the building built in the 1910s survives, surrounded by and embedded into the conglomeration of additionsof different eras and architectural designsthat now make up the hospital. 

1 comment:

  1. Behind the windows at the end of the 'newer building' was a solarium where patients could spend time away from their rooms, meet visitors and smoke! At least that was the case when I spent 2 weeks recovering from pneumonia in the late 50's. What is in that space now?

    For the Hudson old timers, who I know read Gossips, remember the nice Dr. Shaw? So many of us were born there and our parents and grandparents died there, that these photos return memories.