Sunday, July 15, 2018

Friday at the HPC

Historic Preservation Commission meeting on Friday was one of the longest in recent memory--going on for close to three hours. During that time, a few projects of interest were considered and granted certificates of appropriateness. 

The first in our review is 364 Warren Street, the building which for two centuries was the location of the Register-Star and its antecedentsAccording to the evidence in this picture, the building was constructed in 1805.

There have been many changes to the building's facade over the past two centuries--some minor, some more dramatic. In 1919, there was a fire in the building, and in the reconstruction after the fire, the roof line was altered.

What had been a gabled roof for the first 114 years of the building's life, became a flat roof with a decorative cornice.

The latest changes to the facade, as Jason O'Toole, property manager for the Galvan Foundation, explained it, are to assure that 364 Warren Street has "flair" like 366 Warren Street, which he called "beautiful." Essentially the storefronts and the entrance to the building are being restored to what they were when the building was reconstructed after the fire, the exception being the addition of pilasters on either side of the storefronts and the central door.

The red paint that is now on the building will be removed (O'Toole volunteered to provide information on the paint removal techniques to be employed), and the plan is to repaint the building the terra cotta color shown in the rendering.

Another Galvan project that came before the HPC on Friday was 22-24 Warren Street. Like 364 Warren Street, this is a building--or perhaps two--that has experienced much change in the more than two hundred years of its existence.

The 1873 Beers Atlas map shows that there was a single structure on the site at that time.

But there is photographic evidence that prior to urban renewal in Hudson, and for many decades before that, probably from as early as 1903, there were two separate but connected dwelling units on the site--two houses of different heights, different roof profiles, and  different architectural styles.

The historic preservation initiative that was part of urban renewal in Hudson determined that the two buildings were originally one house, an example of "Federal Period Architecture," and set the date of its construction as "c. 1795." There's a plaque to that effect on the building. 

Although identifying the building as "Federal Period Architecture," the urban renewal restoration of the building stopped short of imposing the generally agreed upon features of Federal style--most notably symmetry--on the building. The third story of one of the dwellings was eliminated, and the roof was changed to be one roof over what had been two buildings, but the placement of the door and the windows remained the same. The door was off center, and there was no regular rhythm to the placement of the windows. What's been proposed for the next phase of the building's life is a complete transformation into what is accepted as textbook Federal style.
The door will be moved to the center of the house, and all the windows in the facade will be moved to create strict horizontal and vertical symmetry. 

The only detail in the plan that troubled the HPC was the steps leading to the front door. What was proposed was stone with blue stone for the treads and platform. What was recommended by the HPC was antique--salvaged or reproduction--brick. HPC chair Phil Forman encouraged the use of "anything that creates an authentic touch . . . to bring in some sense of age." Forman also suggested that the railings proposed for the front stairs were "way too slick." O'Toole offered to use railings similar to those approved for 260 Warren Street.

Of interest too from Friday's meeting is 545 Union Street, which is soon to get some attention.

The HPC approved Dutchman repairs or replication of the cornice, newel posts, railings, and balusters on the porch of this house, as well as replacing broken panes of glass in the existing windows.  

The HPC also announced its new official policy on the removal of asbestos, aluminum, and vinyl siding. Henceforth, all certificates of appropriateness for the removal of such siding will contain this language:
This approval does not apply to any historical building elements not currently visible that are revealed in the course of the approved alterations. If any historical building elements are revealed, applicant must inform the Building Code Enforcement Officer immediately, and applicant may need to apply for another Certificate of Appropriateness.


  1. Where are the certificates of appropriateness for the former library? It is arguably one of the Hudson's most historic buildings and Galvan's workers are all over it. Does it have a CofA?

  2. I'm glad that the HPC added that language, so we don't get arbitrary removals of architectural features like what just happened to the window surrounds on another house. IMHO the HPC needs much stronger language and much more power to uphold the agreements inherent in a CofA and other guidelines. In other words, if owners remove architectural features, they should be required to replace them with the old, or identical new materials if the old ones are unusable. Hudson is losing all of its old architecture at a fairly rapid rate. It's why we are here, people. They are killing the goose that laid the golden egg every time we strip or raze a historic building.