Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Historic Preservation Report

On Saturday, Gossips reported on two projects that didn't come before the Historic Preservation Commission on Friday, December 13. Today we'll report on the projects that did.

117 Warren Street This building very likely started out as a private residence, but from the early part of the 20th century until about 1985, when the ground floor was converted into an apartment, it had a storefront. The current owner wants to make the ground floor into retail space again and in October proposed to the Historic Preservation Commission adding a "retail size" window. 

The HPC urged the applicant to do some research to discover what the building looked like when there was a storefront, and commission members Rick Rector and David Voorhees, aided and abetted by Gossips, scoured the History Room at the Hudson Area Library to discover this drawing of the building, showing what it looked like before the ground floor was converted into living space.

The drawing was given to the applicant, and two months later, the project came back before the commission. Below is the design for the storefront now being proposed.

The HPC had only one problem with the new design: the doors. What were proposed were not new or salvaged vintage wood doors but new molded fiberglass doors meant to look like mahogany. The HPC requested some visual evidence of what the fiberglass doors would look like and moved on to other projects while the owner of 117 Warren Street dashed out to get a photograph of the door she wanted to use. Half an hour later, she returned with a manufacturer's photograph.

HPC architect member Jack Alvarez noted that he was familiar with the manufacturer and the door proposed was "not your run-of-the-mill Home Depot door." But he also pointed out the canopy proposed for the building "will mitigate a lot of concern with weathering of the doors," which was the applicant's principal reason for not wanting to use wood doors.

In the end, it was decided that the HPC could not make a judgment about the doors based only on a photograph. They voted unanimously to approve every aspect of the proposed design except the doors. They postponed making a decision about the doors until they could see the actual material, but urged the applicant to consider using real wood doors.

105 Warren Street  An application to replace the roof of this house, a bit farther down on the same block, also came before the Historic Preservation Commission last Friday. The house currently has a metal roof over a wood shake roof, and the proposal is to put a synthetic slate roof on the house. Because the back of the house is considered to be outside the HPC's jurisdiction, synthetic slate is already being installed in the rear. 

The HPC had problems with the proposal, not because the material proposed was synthetic but because slate was not a roofing material that would be authentic to the house. As HPC historian member David Voorhees pointed out, "The house would not have had a slate roof; it would have had wood shakes." 

There was no ruling by the HPC on Friday. The application was deemed incomplete because it lacked the necessary historic photographs and documentation. The applicant was asked to submit a complete application by January 10.

12 Willard Place  Hudson's only example of modern architecture interjected into a historic neighborhood is soon to more than double in size. On Friday, the Historic Preservation Commission reviewed the application to build a new structure next to the one that was completed earlier this year in what was once the backyard of 325 Allen Street. 

The new structure, which is to be a residence attached to the existing artist's studio, is the project of HPC member Tony Thompson. Thompson recused himself when the project was presented, and his wife, Margaret Saliske, made the presentation. There were a few questions about materials--"exactly what we used in the studio"--and about the expected completion date--"we have to sell the house [325 Allen Street] first."

Most of the discussion came when an audience member asked if there would be a public hearing. The immediate responses were "Why do we need a public hearing?" and "Absolutely not." Alvarez asked if there had been a public hearing when the first building was approved, and HPC member Peggy Polenberg responded: "Yes, and no one objected." 

Carl Whitbeck, counsel to the HPC, clarified that, if there was "an issue or controversy that the public would be interested in commenting on," there should be a public hearing. Alvarez wondered if, because it is a commission member's project, the HPC might be opening itself to liability if they waived the public hearing. He mused about introducing modern architecture into a historic district, but HPC chair Rick Rector countered, "There's been agreement that a modern structure can go into a historic district."

HPC member Phil Forman suggested there might be "other implications" if the HPC did not waive the public hearing. "We almost never have public hearings," said Forman, "so if we have a public hearing [on this project], we are signaling that you can do modern architecture but you do it at your own peril."

When a motion was introduced to waive the public hearing and grant a certificate of appropriateness, Polenberg, Voorhees, Rector, and Forman voted yes; Alvarez voted no, explaining later that he thought they were only voting on waiving the public hearing.

445-447 Warren Street  The owner of this building appeared before the Historic Preservation Commission seeking a certificate of appropriateness to jack up the oriel and replace the brackets that now support it with four pillars. She reported that there is extreme rotting in the wood of the oriel, and the brackets are pulling away from the building. According to the owner, the oriel, which was added when local 19th-century architect Henry S. Moul turned two buildings into one, was originally supported by columns. 

Rector explained that the HPC needed to see "the design and what you want to do" and invited the applicant to come back in two weeks--on December 27--with the plans.
Photo credit: 105 Warren Street, Rural Intelligence


  1. Could someone please explain what the difference is between the many Galvan, et al. building projects & HPC chair Rick Rector's statement, ref. 12 Willard, "There's been agreement that a modern structure can go into a historic district"

  2. Name for us exactly one modern Galvan project built from the ground up.

  3. “Hashing out some historical projects,” by John Mason, The Register-Star, Saturday, June 11, 2011:

    The commission also approved the plans of Tony Thompson and Margaret Saliske to build a contemporary-design art and furniture restoration studio at 12 Willard Place, which is located on their property, 325 Allen St.

    Thompson, a commission member who recused himself, told the commission at its June 2 special meeting that the contemporary design allows the building to be more energy-efficient, using rigid foam insulation, concrete ties, triple-glazed windows and radiant floor heat.

    At that meeting, Don Christensen challenged the use of the address 12 Willard Place, saying “there is no 12 Willard Place.” In response to a question from Osterink Friday, Swope said they would “end-run” it by using the tax map number rather than the address.


    From the City of Hudson Code, chapter 169-6, relative to applications for a certificate of appropriateness, states in pertinent part:

    A. The Commission's decision shall be based on the following principles:

    (2) Any alteration of existing properties shall be compatible with their historic character, as well as with the surrounding district; and

    (3) New construction shall be compatible with the district in which it is located.

    B. In applying the principle of compatibility, the Commission shall consider the following factors:

    (1) The general design, character, and appropriateness to the property of the proposed alteration or new construction;

    (2) The scale of the proposed alteration or new construction in relation to the property itself, surrounding properties, and the neighborhood;

    (3) Texture, materials, and color and their relation to similar features of other properties in the neighborhood; and,

    (4) Visual compatibility with surrounding properties, including proportion of the property's front facade, proportion and arrangement of windows and other openings within the facade, roof shape, and the rhythm of spacing of properties on streets, including setback.


    From the Merriam Webster dictionary:

    end run, noun 2: an evasive trick or maneuver "made an end run around the regulations"