Last night at the Common Council meeting, Reverend Ed Cross rose to ask the question, "How many black landmarks are there in Hudson?" The question was asked as a prelude to an appeal for the former church building at 241 Columbia Street, which is now privately owned.
The story of the church and Cross's advocacy for it goes back a few years. Starting in 2009, Cross's congregation, the Endless Love Temple, rented the building as its house of worship, but in 2017, the building was seized by the City of Hudson for nonpayment of property taxes. (The entity that owned the building was not tax exempt.) After the building had been foreclosed on by the City, the owner tried to give it to the Endless Love Temple, but it was no longer theirs to give. It was the property of the City of Hudson.
In July 2017, Cross came to the Common Council trying to work out a deal whereby the Endless Love Temple could pay off, in installments, the more than $30,000 owed in back taxes and take possession of the building. He was told that the law gives the owner the right to pay off the taxes and redeem the property, but it does not allow a third party to do so. John Friedman, then a Third Ward alderman, explained, "The City bends over backward to keep from taking a property," but the law is written to prevent a third party from coming in, paying the back taxes, and taking another person's property.
The building was to go to auction--an auction that was originally scheduled to take place in October but actually happened in November. In early September, Dan Udell launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise the $4,000 needed to bid on the property. (Bidders are required to put up 10 percent of the minimum bid, which for that building was $35,907.09, the total due to the City in unpaid taxes and fees.) Dan and Mary Udell also hosted a poolside party at their home in Taghkanic as a fundraiser for the effort. But the GoFundMe campaign fell short of its goal, and when the auction happened in November, there was no one present to bid on behalf of the Endless Love Temple. The building sold for the minimum bid of $35,907.09. At the auction, another bidder told Gossips that he had not bid on the building because he thought the man who made the opening bid might have been representing Cross and the Endless Love Temple, but that wasn't the case. Early last summer, the person who bought the property at auction sold it for $170,000.
Last night, Cross complained that there was a hole in the roof, and indeed there is a hole in the roof over the entrance way.
Cross told the Council that this building was the original location of Shiloh Baptist Church and claimed it was the "oldest church in Hudson and maybe in the county" and therefore needed to be preserved. "Historic preservation," Cross argued, "is about history and culture." Matt McGhee concurred, urging, "We should recognize this as an important landmark." Dan Udell stepped out from behind the camera to remind people that they had tried to buy it and to declare, "It's a crime the building is now falling apart."
Cross was exaggerating a bit about the antiquity of the building. Gossips research discovered that Shiloh Baptist Church was founded in 1915, and city directories indicate that in its earliest days, the address of the church was simply "Market Place," the area of the city located around the corner of West Warren Street and North Front Street, where 1 North Front Street is now located. By 1921, the address of the church is given as 237 Fulton Street, Fulton Street being at the time the name of Columbia Street below Third Street. It was once made known that Alan Skerrett's grandfather was one of the parishioners who had worked to construct the church. The building is likely more than a hundred years old, but other churches in Hudson are older than that. The First Presbyterian Church, for example, was built in 1837, and Christ Church Episcopal in 1857.
The age of the building notwithstanding, the building definitely should be a landmark, but Cross, McGhee, and Udell seem to be wanting more than simple landmark status, which could be achieved by making the case in an application to the Historic Preservation Commission, who in turn would make the recommendation to the Common Council. Cross and his allies seem to want something more than that, as well they should. The Robert Taylor House has been a locally designated landmark since 2005, and look at the state it's in.
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