Thursday, May 16, 2019

Paint and Historic Preservation

Hudson's historic preservation law, Chapter 169 of the city code, states: "A certificate of appropriateness is required to carry out any exterior alteration, additions, restoration, reconstruction, demolition, new construction, or moving of a landmark or property within an historic district, or to make any material change in the appearance of such a property or its windows." In practice, because it is not considered a material change, the Historic Preservation Commission has never intervened when it comes to paint. As a consequence, at least one brick building, which had never been painted before, was painted a few years ago, without a certificate of appropriateness from the HPC.

Recently, another paint-related change to a historic house was brought to Gossips' attention. The entry doors at 125 Warren Street, which were natural wood and were never painted before, are now being painted.

The picture above, which was taken this morning, shows what appears to be a primer on the doors. 

It has been suggested in the past that when masonry or wood that has never been painted before is to be painted, or when paint is to be removed from masonry or wood that has historically been painted, the action should require a certificate of appropriateness. Whether this requires an amendment to the law or can simply be achieved by a change in practice by the HPC, it is definitely something that should be seriously considered.

Assessment Footnote: The 2018 assessment on this house was $350,000. Its full market value at that time was $454,545. Its tentative assessment is $1,200,000. It is currently for sale, with an asking price of $1,295,000.


  1. Our historic preservation is a joke. For a town whose main asset is it's historic architecture, we are doing nearly nothing to protect it. Owners do as they please, willy nilly, and there are no consequences. We need stronger rules, or there won't be anything left.

  2. Laws are only as good as the infrastructure is to administer & enforce them- so really, just more demolition by neglect.

  3. I have been next door to this house for 10 years. It used to be covered with old vinyl siding, the walls were full of rats and roaches that came over into my building. The populations of rats and roaches would go up and down because the rats ate the roaches, so when there were less roaches, there were rats, when the rats were killed off, more roaches. There were opossums living in the walls of the house, who knows what else. Leaking roofs, poison ivy in the yard, it was a mess. The house was renovated, gutted, updated, the vinyl removed and the old wood siding repaired. The rats and roaches are now gone, as are the former occupants who had used my backyard to park junk cars and garbage bins, they also walked through it to get to the alley because they were too lazy to put a gate in their own fence, and had done it for so long they believed they owned it. So it is in much better shape, certainly not demolition by neglect in this case. Can't say painting the doors was a great idea, but overall a small issue compared to the others.