Monday, November 21, 2016

Plans for a New Hotel Before the HPC

More than a year ago, Gossips reported on plans to convert Benson House, one of the most remarkably well-preserved and lovingly restored houses in Hudson, into a four-room boutique hotel.

Since then the plans for a hotel have expanded and evolved. The hotel will now include the building next door, 302-304 Warren Street, and will have eleven rooms: four luxury suites at 306 Warren and seven rooms at 302-304 Warren Street. The proposed exterior alterations to the buildings, to ready them for their new life as a hotel, were presented to the Historic Preservation Commission on Friday.

At 302-304 Warren Street, where a new storefront was created not that long ago to replicate the one that already existed, the facade is to be altered to accommodate a secondary hotel reception area.

The storefront entry bays will be infilled with windows, the door surround will be stripped of paint and given a dark stain, the door will be replaced with a custom-made multi-light door, and an awning will be hung over the door.

At  the back, a shed dormer the width of the building will be added, together with a fence surrounding the hotel's pool and a pergola covering a walkway along Prison Alley that leads to the carriage house behind 306 Warren Street, which will become a bar and lounge.

Even though 302-304 Warren Street is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Hudson, dating from the end of the 18th century, the HPC was less concerned with the changes proposed for this building than they were with the changes proposed for 306 Warren Street, because of its historically intact condition. The changes proposed for 306 Warren Street involve replacing all the windows, replacing the double front doors with a new door, replacing the brownstone stoop with a new limestone stoop, replacing the railings, putting a limestone veneer on the foundation, and installing an awning over the door to match the one proposed for the entrance to 302-304 Warren Street.

HPC member Miranda Barry was concerned that the proposed awning obscured the door surround. Architect member Kate Johns had more comprehensive concerns. The windows, the doors, the stoop, the railings--all of the things proposed to be replaced--are original to the house and should be repaired and retained rather than replaced. She acknowledged that the brick on the foundation appeared different from the brick of the rest of the house and suggested that it may have originally had parging to make it look like brownstone, to match the stoop. She urged the applicants to consider incorporating the original double doors into the new design for the entrance. She also asked the applicants to consider restoring the original windows rather than replacing them.

The applicants agreed to consider Johns' requests, as well as Barry's request that the awning not obscure the door surround. Kristal Heinz, attorney for the applicants, asked if, since all the issues the HPC had with the project were with 306 Warren Street not with 302-304 Warren Street, the application could be split and the HPC could approve what was proposed for 302-304 Warren so that construction could begin on that part of project. This was agreeable to the HPC, which voted unanimously to approve what was proposed for 302-304 Warren Street. The project will likely come back before th HPC at its next meeting on December 9.


  1. The question of whether to repair or replace the windows is interesting. Based on my experience renovating old windows at our house, I know that it is extremely time-consuming removing old glazing, scraping, sanding, reglazing, priming and painting, which has to be done every few years. New double-paned windows with argon gas would be more energy-efficient, make the building more comfortable in the winter, and reduce maintenance costs. Just my two cents.

  2. Certainly, to retain the aesthetic value of the architecture, but to utilize a more efficient window, saving energy, reducing fossil fuel usage, we have to realize where we draw the line as being too nit picky or being realistic in how we enforce historic preservation. Without getting to far out of hand, let us take things into perspective. They are not going to place vinyl siding here or do something drastic, but merely upgrade to a more efficient building while aesthetically maintaining the similar appearance as the building dictates. If in 1890 someone wanted to place an awning over the door, would that have been an issue then? Probably not, but if they placed it then, do we need to replicate that other persons perspective today? Flexibility or realism needs to be in place from both sides. Hudson has many many treasures, but we can save historic value and be seriously be reasonable in how things are done. Ponder on that a bit. :)

  3. I work at the Supreme Court building at 60 Centre Street in Manhattan. All of the windows in this historic building are original, and we pay a price. It is a cold, drafty building. It was so cold inside today that I had to work wearing my winter coat and hat. Not very conducive to morale or productivity. So, if new, energy-efficient windows are needed to make the hotel on Warren Street a pleasant place for visitors, permission should be granted to replace them.

  4. Keep the original windows. Fenestration is critical. New windows today tend to look ungapatchka.

  5. Replies
    1. Not to worry. They also own the little pink brick house across the alley, which faces Third Street. The use of the house is TBD, but the yard along Prison Alley and behind the house is adequate to provide the required eleven parking spaces.

  6. What is the proper balance between historic preservation and modernization? Here, we have a building that will be renovated as a hotel. It's important for guests to have a good experience and be comfortable. If the hotel is historically authentic with original details, yet cold and uncomfortable, guests are likely to be unhappy and to give the place bad reviews. I lived in Philadelphia for many years, and I loved the old buildings like Independence Hall and the mansions in Fairmount Park. With buildings like that -- which are never going to be inhabited -- preserving the original materials makes sense. Food for thought.

  7. Is there any proof that the interior is cold and drafty due to the original windows? Surely an hvac specialist can engineer the heating system to keep guests warm and cozy.
    The original windows should be kept unless they are in a state that is beyond repair such as rotted frames.

  8. You are correct in that. As a former owner, I spent weekend there. It was warm and comfortable. The radiator heat was great.
    The original windows being taken out is a horror. They could have been insulted just by placing a clear insulated outer window.
    Sad ��, Marlene Berlt

  9. As a past owner that spent much time at “The Benson House”, I can report the house was warm and cozy. The radiators were adequate.
    The windows being taken out is horrible. A clear insulated covering over the outside would be appropriate.
    �� Sad. Marlene Berlt