Friday, May 18, 2018

One Brief Shining Moment

On Wednesday, Gossips celebrated the removal of the aluminum siding at 742 and 744 Warren Street and the revelation of the original detailing--particularly on 742 Warren--that had been hidden for who knows how many years.

But alas, in the past thirty-six hours, all those marvelous details that were revealed on 742 Warren Street have disappeared--this time, not just covered up but probably removed altogether.

The word is that the discovered decorative elements were "broken" or missing parts, and restoring or reproducing them was too expensive, so the solution was apparently to install new clapboard in those areas. 

The situation raises an important question for the Historic Preservation Commission and for our preservation ordinance. The HPC granted certificates of appropriateness to 742 Warren Street and 744 Warren Street to remove the aluminum siding. Of course, a proposal to remove aluminum siding would be given a certificate of appropriateness. It was a no-brainer. At the time, the owners of both the properties told the HPC that the original details survived beneath the aluminum siding, leading anyone to believe that it was their intention to preserve whatever details were discovered. Given that the HPC exists to preserve and protect the authentic architectural fabric of Hudson, it would seem that, once the original decorative details were revealed, another certificate of appropriateness would be required to obliterate them, but this didn't happen. Thank goodness that, in the brief time they were exposed, the decorative details were fairly well documented, although not as well documented as they might have been had people known they were to be short-lived.

I am reminded of the film Bedazzled--the original 1967 version not the 2000 remake. The HPC is Stanley Moon, and just about any applicant before the HPC could turn out to be George Spiggot.


  1. With the odd way the corbeled trim and frieze ends abruptly I think the center peaked gable (lacking similar detsiling) is a later addition . The roof line would have been a continuous mansard roof . imho

  2. The window embellishments probably occurred at the same time the peak was added - all having a similar design flavor. So simplifying the window treatment may be historically correct but the peaked center could be removed for it to make arcitectursl sense ... lol

  3. Are the oriel windows on this building original to the first appearance of this building? Or added perhaps later when the peaked gable was added as suggested above. All of this suggests further questions in my mind about exactly how one determines what is to be conserved. Mark Orton

  4. The oriel windows on the other building could be original for that period of architecture. I don't understand what has has to do with the building on the left whose remodification is obvious .

  5. I wasn’t drawing any particular connection with 742. Just a question about the oriel. There are lots of them in Hudson. How many are original to the construction of the buildings? How many were added on later as styles changed not to mention the additional light admitted? Mark

  6. Most oriels in Hudson were added at around the same time. They became popular, and had practical reasons of more light, space and side to side views. Trends tend to happen around the same time. Fashions and/or practical innovations of building.
    Like original Hudson houses raising the roof in front and adding the small rectangular windows to make attics usable space.Then that same building could add Greek Revival decorations, next their peaked roof might be removed altogether and a full 3rd floor added with an almost flat roof or later a faux mansard roof. Decorations on these buildings changed with fashions and/or innovations in building construction and materials and decorative elements being able to be massed produced, as in Victorian brick-a-brack, etc. All or some of this could happen to the same building, which started out as a cape house in 1780's At any given point in time, a new building might be built in the fashion of that particular period from scratch.I don't know where the cut off point in time that Historic Preservation Commission decides, when there is clear evidence, what has been altered to a structure over time. Must be difficult.It's much easier when the building is in its original state, and just needs to be restored correctly and legally prevented from altering it from the time it was built.(I realize I am over simplifying this) Preservation-Hudson NY

  7. Thanks. Having lived in Cambridge MA for decades your history here sounds very similar to what the local historians there report. It does make it difficult to determine exactly what one is preserving. Mark