Monday, November 18, 2013

Disposable Hudson

We know the story of Hudson and urban renewal all too well. Acres of little vernacular houses, like the one shown in this picture, built in the 19th century and even earlier, were demolished in the 1970s to make way for government subsidized low-income housing. The Second Ward, which once upon a time was configured pretty much the way the First Ward still is today, was totally transformed.

Forty years later, when it should be apparent to everyone that Hudson's historic architecture--i.e., old buildings and intact streetscapes--is the principal reason for the city's revival, it would seem the City's official position would be to encourage people to rescue the old buildings and restore them to usefulness. Not so. The City's taste for demolition lives on.

When Per Blomquist first came to the Planning Commission with his proposal to build a new five-unit apartment building at 248-250 Columbia Street, he said that the mayor and the code enforcement officer wanted him to demolish the existing buildings, which he purchased, according to tax assessment records, in 2011 and 2012. The foundations are reportedly buckling, and in the opinion of our Hudson officials, the only course of action when there's a problem with the foundation is demolition. But is it? Demolition isn't the solution always sought in other places.

Take for example this little house across the river in Athens. Not long ago, the foundation was crumbling, and the house was tilting downhill. Today, the foundation has been repaired, and the house has been righted and beautifully restored.

The house, the oldest part of which was built in the 1780s, is known as Hallenbeck House (probably no relation to our mayor), and it is now listed in the Greene County Historic Register. If only such a bright future could be imagined for 248 and 250 Columbia Street.  

Photographs of 7 North Church Street in Athens courtesy James Male and E. D. Pujol.

3 comments:

  1. The pic of the bldgs. located at 248-250 Columbia St. bring to mind the state of many of the bldgs. located in the 200 block of State St.
    Will the future bring a 'dejavu" experience to us or will there be a pro-active movement to save the 200 block of State St.? And just what will Hudson's Code Enforcer do to stop the urban decay?

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  2. Excellent post. Thank-you Gossips.

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  3. The 200 block of State (where I live) and Robinson Street are indeed architectural jewels. I know that when the proposal to landmark Robinson Street brought forward by Historic Hudson, failed to be adopted. I wonder though, whether the Historic Preservation Commission might consider putting together a package of information for residents of those blocks (and others around the city) to educate residents on how to move forward getting their own buildings designated rather than designate the entire district. I know that I would consider doing it, for the restoration tax credits that could be accessed with such a designation.

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