Monday, October 3, 2016

Looking Back a Couple of Decades

This past weekend was the opening of The Warren Street Project, the monumental collection of photographs by Lynn Davis which capture the buildings on Warren Street as they were in 1994 and 1995.

This past weekend, too, Neal Van Deusen sent Gossips some photographs of buildings just a block over from Warren Street that were destroyed by fire in 1991, just a few years before Davis began her monumental undertaking. Van Deusen, who served as first assistant chief in the Hudson Fire Department from 1987 to 1992, often took pictures of the aftermath of significant fires.

The first photograph shows two houses that were destroyed by fire on Union Street: 128 Union Street, a house believed to have predated the arrival of the Proprietors in 1783, and a little house that sat just east of it.

Photo: Neal Van Deusen
After the fire, in 1992 and 1993, Bill Ebel and Jeremiah Rusconi undertook to save the house, which was an eighteenth-century example of Dutch vernacular architecture. They had a new post and beam roof frame constructed for the house, but as they cleaned out the house and discovered the extent of the damage to the rest of the structure, they were forced to admit it it was a lost cause.

They couldn't demolish the west wall of the house because it served as the side wall of the little infill house west of the building, so for years the brick wall of the ancient house remained.

In  September 2013, the owner of 124 Union Street demolished the little infill house and the wall to build an addition her own house and to develop the lot where the historic Dutch house once stood as a garden.

Another significant fire of 1991 took place at the corner of Fourth and Columbia streets. The lot has been vacant for so many years that it is hard to imagine that buildings ever stood there, but here they are, in their sadly burned out condition.

Photo: Neal Van Deusen

Photo: Neal Van Deusen
Van Deusen recalls that the fire started in the rear of 29-31 North Fourth Street, which is the building to the right in the first picture, and damaged not only that building but also 25-27 North Fourth street (the building on the corner) and 366 Columbia Street.

In the background of both pictures above, you can glimpse the Fourth Street School, which was demolished early in 1994. For more than twenty years now, that entire block of North Fourth Street, on the west side of the street from Columbia Street to State Street, has been vacant. The parcel from Columbia Street to Long Alley belongs to Galvan Initiatives Foundation; the parcel from Long Alley to State Street belongs to the City of Hudson. If anything is ever to be built on these parcels, it's nice to recall what was once there.

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