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.
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