Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Redefining Historic Preservation

The hope was that this early Hudson house, dating from sometime between 1810 and 1815, which originally stood at 900 Columbia Street, was going to be moved to rescue it from demolition.

But alas, instead of being moved, the house was "disassembled" presumably to be "reassembled" at 215 Union Street. For those observing the process, it was very hard to discern what made "disassembly" different from demolition, particularly in an age when historic materials are routinely salvaged and resold.

By the time the proposal to relocate the house on Union Street came before the Historic Preservation Commission for a certificate of appropriateness, the myth of "reassembly" had been pretty much abandoned. HPC chair Rick Rector advised his colleagues to consider the house being proposed as new construction reusing some of the materials from the historic house: the bricks, the Italianate door surround, and the limestone window sills. "It shouldn't even be looked at as a replication of 900 Columbia Street," Rector admonished.

Now construction has begun, and it challenges the imagination to envision the house proposed much less any homage to the house lost in what has been erected thus far.


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