Monday, September 28, 2015

Hudson's Final Resting Place

Our burying ground in Hudson--both the original Hudson City Cemetery and Cedar Park--is a place of great beauty and interest. It's an early example in America of the landscaped cemetery for which Christopher Wren had advocated as early as 1711.

More than thirty years ago, in 1983, an inventory of the original part of the cemetery was prepared and submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office, which deemed it eligible for listing in the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Bill Krattinger, historic preservation specialist at SHPO, writing in November 2005, summarized the features of this part of the cemetery and recommended that the City move ahead with an evaluation of Cedar Park and with the designation process for all or part of the cemetery:
[T]he portion of the cemetery located west of Paul Avenue and south of Columbia Turnpike was considered as the National Register-eligible portion, containing as it does a noteworthy collection of funerary art, ranging from typically late 18th-century stones executed by a master carver--and embellished with winged effigies and other typical design vocabulary--to tombs, such as the Egyptian Revival-style tomb which is an outstanding reflection of American romanticism in the antebellum period and the interest in that period of utilizing Egyptian design motifs in cemetery design. The cemetery would appear a virtual treasure trove for historians and enthusiasts of American funerary art, offering as it does a wealth of markers and crypts that illustrate various themes and styles within this genre.
I also understand now that there is an adjacent area of cemetery contiguous to the older section—this more recent section being known as Cedar Park— that though not determined National Register-eligible at the time the other determination was made, might well warrant consideration for such, due to the presence of landscape design elements that might well have been rendered by an as-yet identified professional hand. . . . I would also recommend that . . . City of Hudson move ahead with further evaluation and the actual designation process—for either one or both areas depending on the future evaluation of Cedar Park. . . . Cemeteries are, in my estimation, important historic resources of considerable import to communities, and often eligible for listing on the State and National Registers in association with numerous historic themes as outlined under the applicable criteria.

In April 2013, thirty years after the inventory was done and the cemetery was deemed eligible, the Common Council Arts, Entertainment & Tourism Committee agreed to move ahead with pursuing National Register designation for the Hudson City Cemetery, the original part of the cemetery. The effort was spearheaded by First Ward alderman David Marston, who two years later resigned to relocate temporarily to Minnesota. In his absence, the pursuit of National Register designation does not seem to be moving forward.

Meanwhile, Peter Jung has been making his own preservation and restoration efforts in the cemetery. In 2008, after coming upon the grave of Hudson River School painter Sanford Robinson Gifford, Jung, an art dealer specializing in 19th and early 20th century painting, set out to restore the neglected Gifford family plot, of which Sanford Gifford's grave was a part.

Jung raised the money and commissioned a stonemason to repair and clean the stones. Today, the Gifford family grave site is beautifully restored.

Lately, Jung has directed his attention to an area of the cemetery not far from the Gifford family plot, where a locust tree blew over in a storm and fell on some tombstones. With the knowledge and consent and, indeed, gratitude of Public Works superintendent Rob Perry (there is never enough money in the budget to take proper care of the cemetery), Jung is clearing the fallen tree and the brush and tidying up this area.

Earlier this month, Jung created a Facebook page to promote "an informal, ad hoc group of people who appreciate the beauty and history of the cemetery in Hudson" called the Headstone Society. On this page, you can follow Jung's work in the cemetery and post your own comments and discoveries about Hudson's final resting place.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Carole! And thanks Peter for all your work on this project.