Though knowledgeable about architectural styles, Ms. Huxtable often seemed more interested in social substance. She invited readers to consider a building not as an assembly of pilasters and entablatures but as a public statement whose form and placement had real consequences for its neighbors as well as its occupants.Our own little city of Hudson attracted Huxtable's attention back in 1969, during the battle over the General Worth Hotel. In March 1971, a year after the General Worth had been razed, she wrote this about the debacle in a Wall Street Journal article that is anthologized in her 1976 book Kicked a Building Lately?
Usually landmarks are demolished for parking lots.… This is one of the popular sports in cities. Urban renewal has drawn its demolition lines around uncounted (has anyone ever counted?) historic buildings and districts. Waterfronts, Federal survivals, Greek Revival enclaves, anything that has meaning in terms of the history, style, or sense of place in American communities is x-ed out first as the oldest, shabbiest, and easiest to demolish.…
In Hudson, New York, the same kind of senseless urban plan claimed the 1837 Greek Revival General Worth Hotel. The Hudson YMCA was willing to take over the building and the Hudson River Valley Commission, the State Historical Trust, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation urged that it be saved. But political heads prevailed and Hudson demolished its National Register property. Ready for the biggest gag of all? Read it in the Hudson Register-Star:
"A modern Dairy-Queen Drive-In will be constructed on the site of the historic General Worth Hotel that fell victim to the bulldozers last year. The Common Council in special session voted to sell the site for $1,700. Council President Thomas Quigley said the purchase 'was a step in the right direction to develop downtown Hudson.'"Huxtable's last book, On Architecture: Collected Reflections on a Century of Change, was published in 2008.
The photograph reproduced here is by Harry Heleotis and accompanied the interview with Huxtable in a WNET Interview Gallery.