Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Just Beyond a Historic District

Many's the time I've wondered and worried about the fate of this remarkable Italianate house on Prospect Street. It was such a grand house, yet it seemed so unloved.

Tax records show that in the middle of last year, the house acquired a new owner, and a renovation of the house is currently underway.

The Armory Historic District, which primarily covers the houses on North Fifth Street between State and Clinton streets, doesn't include this house just three lots away on Prospect Street, believed to have been built in 1875. Since the plans for its restoration don't require review by the Historic Preservation Commission, there is no assurance that the fish scale siding, which gives the house its unique character, will be preserved or replicated. 

With this house on my mind, I discovered this morning, tucked into the pocket of a jacket I decided to wear, a quote a friend had given me, written on a scrap of paper. Now is as good a time as any to share it.
When dealing with the exterior of a period house, one might dwell on these words of wisdom by an anonymous Chinese poet: "The facade of a building does not belong to only those who own it but all who behold it."


  1. Whilst it's good to see the porch replaced it's unfortunate that its' proportions ignore the delicacy of the original architecture.

    1. Hi Vincent!
      Unfortunately, the porch was in very poor shape and required a full replacement. However, the new porch is only slightly larger than the original to provide more usable space (there wasn't even enough space for chairs on the prior porch) and isn't yet finished as we'll be adding decorative wood elements to period and hand-carved replicas of the original ballusters, which were replaced with the lattice you see in the first picture at some point in the house's long history. I'm sure you'll be pleased when the work is finished!

  2. Hello all!
    I'm the new owner of this beautiful house and am excited to preserve as much of the original, unique aspects of the exterior and interior as possible -- including the amazing fish scale siding! In fact, I'm planning to add in a few additional original architectural details that were lost over time, like the hand-carved porch ballusters modeled after the one we found under the old porch. Unfortunately, most of our time and energy up to now has been spent on resolving fundamental concerns like shoring up the foundation and removing water-damaged plaster, but we're eager to continue work on the more decorative aspects in the coming months. I'm fairly sure you'll be happy with the final results -- both inside and out -- once work is complete. Look for more to come!

    Thanks and let me know if you'd like a tour once work is complete!

    1. Andreau, thank you for your work on this wonderful house. My partner and I have a house of similar style and period on Union Street, so we have eagerly watched progress on your house. I hope that the tower windows will retain their original size and shape; it's hard to tell from the progress photo.

    2. Andreau, such great news! I understand that the house has major issues all around and appreciate that it's a monumental task. I hope you can salvage some of the interior details. So many older homes are stripped down and the interiors refashioned into loft like spaces. We are losing the interior character of so many historic houses.The beauty of plaster for instance. Once the original details are removed, they're gone forever. (Take you up on a tour once you're ready!)
      What's the plan for the tower windows?

    3. Andreau:

      I was so excited to read this article and I'm so thankful you purchased this house. My family lived on the lower floor from 1964 until about 1980. As a young teenager, I vividly recall painting all of that fishscale on the front. The bottom 3-4 steps were concrete and the remainder were wood. There were 2 square brick columns about 48" high on the ground at the sides of the stairs and 2 pipe railings came down on each side and were cemented into holes in the sides of the columns. On top of the coulmns were round cement spheres. I will search for photos and if I find any, I'll send them to you.
      Prospect street was a very quiet street where the local kids could gather. Good luck with the restoration and I would love to see it when you're done.

      Marc S. Buschman
      Miami, Florida

  3. What a great response Andreau ! You've got a jewel in the rough to repolish ! Congrats

  4. How exciting to see this house being preserved. Friends of our family and a classmate of mine lived in this house. The owner was a wonderful caring woman with two children who graduated Hudson schools. Wishing you the best with your endeavor. I have a real soft spot for the older buildings in Hudson. Becky S.

  5. Andreau, thank you for your the update on your work on this wounderful house. My partner and I own a house of similar style and vintage on Union St., so we've been eager to see how yours progresses. I hope that the tower windows will retain their size and shape; it's hard to tell from the work-in-progress photo.