NOTE: This post was originally published a week ago.
Most communities eliminated their air raid sirens decades ago, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the end of the Cold War. Not so Hudson and Columbia County. The faded yellow air raid siren, probably no longer functional, is still mounted on the parapet of the courthouse, looking singularly out of place on the 1907 Beaux Arts building.
The construction going on at the courthouse and the elimination of the foundation shrubbery have the effect of throwing the air raid siren into stark relief against the sky, inspiring talk of removing the obsolete appliance. There is some thought, however, that the air raid siren might be considered a historic artifact, a valued relic of the Cold War.
So Gossips is conducting a poll to gather readers' opinions of the air raid siren. Is it an eyesore that should be removed? Or is it a historic artifact that should be preserved? Look for the poll at the right and share your opinion.
The poll is now closed. Here are the results.
"historic artifact" could be used as the same argument to have prevented the demolition of the back wingReplyDelete
Unless you were in the second floor records room and saw mold blooming on the bricks, and irreplaceable documents wet from a ceiling open to the sky ... whatever happened to those patents, deeds, congeries, and muniments?Delete
The "eyesore" argument is one often made to raze historic buildings (and additions) where maintenance has been deferred and neglect leads to ruin. According to the Secretary of the Interior's standards, preservation “places a high premium on the retention of all historic fabric through conservation, maintenance and repair.” Further: “It reflects a building's continuum over time, through successive occupancies, and the respectful changes and alterations that are made.”ReplyDelete
Does that Cold War-era air raid siren represent a respectful change or alteration? Not likely, but there's an argument to be made relative to historical significance. Might that same argument be made for satellite dishes on buildings, or microwave/cell relays on steeples, someday, when they become technologically irrelevant?
...like it or not this thing has value, let's just have a proper accounting of it's journey. i wonder what bathroom out in the county now has new marble?...ReplyDelete
I have been wondering what would happen to the air raid siren. Some "relics" like the huge industrial hook, behind the Stageworks parking lot should stay where they are.ReplyDelete
perhaps the air raid siren, if removed, could go to the Museum of Firefighting
That gigantic hook once found its way into the design for an outdoor train museum, on Broad Street across from the Dunne's building.Delete
It was Patrick Doyle's plan, and he'd lined up all sorts of donors and even made progress acquiring a flatbed railroad car for permanent placement across the wooden trestle between Broad Street and Holcim.
I know this because I helped with the design, and even made a mock-up of the scene in Photoshop which, alas, was never seen by anyone.
After an engineer gave the trestle his stamp of approval, Doyle spoke about the planned re-use of the structure at the January 2010 public hearing for the LWRP/GEIS. He described the location of the trestle perfectly, and in great detail.
But when the official Responses to the public comments were finally made public in May 2011 their author, attorney Cheryl Roberts, supposed that Doyle was referring to the Ferry Street Bridge!
It is more than likely that the principal author of Hudson's waterfront program and GEIS (who lives far out in the county), knows next to nothing about our waterfront.
This first mention in years of the giant hook seems a good opportunity to remember the forgotten idea for a train museum, which had planned to feature the relocated hook-and-derrick.
Historic artifact and eyesore. Perhaps better displayed elsewhere with a description of its history and function.ReplyDelete
Potentially this civil defense siren can still be used to warn our population of impending catastrophe. Many places in the country use similar sirens to warn of a threat of tornado, or of severe weather.ReplyDelete
Yes, it is also possible that any electrical connection has been severed, and any link to a threat system, but before anyone removes this alarm system, they should first make sure there is better and foolproof system in place.
If the siren is to be removed from the County Court House & is of historical value why not ask the Columbia County Museum in Kinderhook if they interested in having it.ReplyDelete
The siren could be placed atop the rusted out cement factory structure on the waterfront that is also claiming historical significance.ReplyDelete
It's both. Sometimes that's just how it goes. How capricious to sit in judgment of what IS a part of history because we don't like the way it looks. Boo hoo hoo. If the county decides to remove it will they bring it before the preservation committee like they did with the windows and other work that's going on? My guess is that it will be exactly the same way = N/A.ReplyDelete
"History" is an expression of a people's historical values at a particular time and in a particular place.ReplyDelete
You may call that "capricious," but unless some sort of a Recording Angel can be produced, one with perfect objectivity, then we've only ever had our values, our biases, and our judgements to guide us. On what other basis can our best attempts to judge something be called capricious?
In that regard, is there very much difference between sitting in judgement of history and sitting in judgement of a work of art? (I mean the "sitting in judgement" part, and not history versus art.)
It's my judgement that Columbia County should remove that UGLY object from its arbitrary perch, and then send it to a museum of choice for anyone who values the thing. Why not donate it to a museum in Moscow, preferably one dedicated to the memory of the Rosenbergs?
Das Unheimliche: It is not a piece of art. It is a piece of history. The source and target of your analogy don't jive. There is no error in viewing art subjectively. Straying from an objective view of history is nothing but.ReplyDelete
Oh I see, architecture isn't art. Interesting.Delete
But let's stick to a subject that's derailed the world's history for long enough. Please share from whence we can discover at last an "objective" view of history?
Do you suppose that history is a branch of science, or even (heaven forbid) the "social sciences"? What is this the nature of this ultimate, objective lens you have?
At any rate, the "objectivist" fantasy ends in relativism (naturally), and its implied, neutral respect for all histories turns out to be one more value system asserted at the expense of some other. Perhaps it's more accurate to say that it's a single value systematized and projected.
It's the pretended "objectivity" that brings with it the meretricious patina of neutrality, but of course there is no such thing in human matters.
Unlike science, which takes place within a community that also wrestles with ineluctable value judgements, the authoritative source of the alleged historical objectivity is unattainable for mere mortals.
So let's have another look at the courthouse then, and without the objectivist pretensions. And why not consider all historic structures in this same poetic light, along with history itself, and art, and perception, and science, and math, and ethics, and religion, and mythology ....