Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A Little Help from Our Friends

In recent months, two Friends groups have emerged: Friends of Hudson Youth and Friends of Oakdale Lake. At last night's Common Council meeting, Alderman Rich Volo (Fourth Ward) suggested the possibility of another such group: Friends of the Hudson Cemetery.

Volo told his fellow aldermen last night that he and Peter Jung will be meeting with the trustees of the Oakwood Cemetery in Troy "to see how they dealt with problems"--those problems being both grounds keeping and restoration and preservation of monuments. Peter Jung was the moving force, in 2008, behind the restoration of the family plot of Hudson River School painter Sanford Robinson Gifford and has since been working independently, with the knowledge and gratitude of the Department of Public Works, to maintain the Gifford grave site and the areas adjacent to it.

Oakwood Cemetery is an excellent model for efforts to restore and preserve our cemetery in Hudson. Established in 1848, at the height of the rural cemetery movement, Oakwood Cemetery is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is recognized as "one of the most exceptional cemeteries in the United States," and is the final resting place of people worthy of note: nine Civil War generals, a leader in women's education, and the progenitor of the national symbol, Uncle Sam.

Oakwood Cemetery
The same things are true of our cemetery. The Hudson City Cemetery is actually older than Oakwood Cemetery, originating in 1784, predating the Rural Cemetery Movement but presaging its principal characteristics: being located outside of the population center and not on church grounds. Although not listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Hudson City Cemetery was determined to be eligible for listing as long ago as 1983. Thirty years later, in 2013, the now defunct Arts, Entertainment & Tourism Committee of the Common Council decided to pursue National Register designation for the original part of the cemetery, but it was never carried out. 

In 2005, Bill Krattinger, historic preservation specialist at the New York State Preservation Office (SHPO), summarized the features of the original Hudson City Cemetery and recommended that the City move ahead with an evaluation of Cedar Park and with the designation process for all or part of the cemetery. Gossips has published the text of this letter before, but the new initiative regarding the cemetery inspires doing it again:
[T]he portion of the cemetery located west of Paul Avenue and south of Columbia Turnpike was considered as the National Register-eligible portion, containing as it does a noteworthy collection of funerary art, ranging from typically late 18th-century stones executed by a master carver--and embellished with winged effigies and other typical design vocabulary--to tombs, such as the Egyptian Revival-style tomb which is an outstanding reflection of American romanticism in the antebellum period and the interest in that period of utilizing Egyptian design motifs in cemetery design. The cemetery would appear a virtual treasure trove for historians and enthusiasts of American funerary art, offering as it does a wealth of markers and crypts that illustrate various themes and styles within this genre.
I also understand now that there is an adjacent area of cemetery contiguous to the older section being known as Cedar Park--that though not determined National Register-eligible at the time the other determination was made, might well warrant consideration for such, due to the presence of landscape design elements that might well have been rendered by an as-yet identified professional hand.… I would also recommend that … the City of Hudson move ahead with further evaluation and the actual designation process--for either one or both areas depending on the future evaluation of Cedar Park. Cemeteries are, in my estimation, important historic resources of considerable import to communities, and often eligible for listing on the State and National Registers in association with numerous historic themes as outlined under the applicable criteria.

It can be argued that our cemetery is also "one of the most exceptional cemeteries in the United States," and noteworthy people are buried there--more than one artist associated with the Hudson River School, a heroic Civil War colonel, a ship's captain who died fighting pirates in the Caribbean, an American pioneer in photography, to name a few. Let's hope that organizing to pursue the cemetery's National Register designation and to support the restoration, preservation, and beautification of Hudson's cemetery is an idea whose time has finally come.


  1. I recall that Dave Marston was attempting to register the cemetery as a historical landmark. What became of that?

    1. Nothing. David Marston chaired the Arts, Entertainment, and Tourism Committee which, as I mention in the post, decided to pursue designation. However, it was not pursued.

  2. How about restoring/replacing the cemetery fence that is located on the far eastern perimeter that borders Newman road.
    The Jewish entrance gate is located at this perimeter too.
    As always thank you for your positive efforts to improve the makings of the City of Hudson and its residents.

  3. Our cemetery is a treasure, and deserves much more love than it has been getting in recent years, with the exception of Peter Jung, of course. I hope that it is designated, and more of the monuments restored, as well as some of the landscape, which has suffered from storms over the last few years.

  4. For the last two summers,with the help of Gail grandenetti and Vince Wallace,I have spent time cleaning and restoring to the original glory the headstones of the revolutionary war veterans in our cemetery
    I have just started number 35
    A slow process but very rewarding.