Friday, April 16, 2021

Galvan and Historic Preservation

Photo: Colleen Hamm
Since publishing the post about the Robert Taylor House yesterday, I've stumbled upon a couple of things of relevance to the state of the historic house worthy of sharing. The first is a Gossips post from February 2012, just two months after the not-for-profit Galvan Initiatives Foundation was created: "What's It All About, Galvan?" In that post, Tom Swope, who was then the executive director of the foundation, defined the foundation's purpose in this way: "Our mission is to enhance the quality of life in Hudson through acquiring [an] architecturally significant group of houses, renovating them, returning them to the housing stock and renting them out at market rates. It will enable people who are gainfully employed to find decent places to live right in town."

The post also quotes the foundation's registration statement found in the New York State Charities Bureau database--a statement that begins: "To preserve the unique heritage of the City of Hudson, New York, by acquiring, interpreting, conserving and maintaining buildings of architectural and historical significance." The foundation certainly has achieved the acquiring part of that goal--taking possession over the years of the birthplace of General William Jenkins Worth, the Robert Taylor House, the Charles Alger House, the 1818 Hudson Almshouse, the original Hudson Orphan Asylum, the 1805 building that housed the city's oldest surviving newspaper, the C. H. Evans Mansion, the Captain William Ashley House, to name a few. Two of these buildings no longer exist. 

The Captain William Ashley House, which stood at 900 Columbia Street, was built somewhere between 1810 and 1815. It was one of the first if not the first house build in the section of the city known as "Prospect Hill." The Mental Health Association, which owned the house and operated it as a group home, wanted to demolish it to make way for its new facility. MHA was willing to give the building to anyone who would get rid of it for them. Galvan took possession of the house with the expressed intention of moving it to the 200 block of Union Street. Instead, the house was demolished or, to use Dan Kent's term, "disassembled." A few elements of the house, most notably the door surround, which was most likely a later enhancement to the early 19th-century house, made their way into the new house that was constructed at 215 Union Street.   

The original Hudson Orphan Asylum, acquired by Eric Galloway in 2006, was demolished in 2019. During the thirteen years of ownership, a portion of the building was demolished without a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission and a metal roof was installed, also without a certificate of appropriateness. It was finally determined the building's "structural issues are beyond repair," and it was demolished.

Photo: Stephen McKay
Galvan has owned the Robert Taylor House since 2011. In 2012, they wanted to move the house from its historic location at the head of Tanners Lane to the vacant lot next to 25 Union Street. The move was not granted a certificate of appropriateness by the HPC.

In 2018, a plan to convert the Robert Taylor House into a tavern was one of five projects involving Galvan properties submitted for DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) funding. The project brought hope for the building's future, but in response to public protest, all Galvan projects were eliminated from consideration for DRI funds.

So, as we noted yesterday, the house continues to languish, and it seems only a matter of time before it too is determined to be "beyond repair," if it hasn't already reached that point.

This morning, I spent some time on the Galvan Initiatives Foundation website, in particular checking out the section devoted to "Historic Preservation." There you will find a list of historic properties owned by Galvan--there are nineteen of them--and this statement:
Galvan Foundation is dedicated to the conservation of the rich history of Hudson. We stabilize and rehabilitate distressed historic buildings and neighborhoods to create spaces promoting housing, education, economic opportunity, and community services.
If you click on a historic property in the list, you get "Before" and "After" pictures of the building and a little history. Of interest are the "Before" and "After" pictures of the Robert Taylor House.



The "After" picture is a rendering, the same rendering, albeit with an altered context, that was used to show how the house would look in its new location on lower Union Street.  

Interesting too are the "Before" and "After" pictures of the Captain William Ashley House. The "Before" picture shows that house at 900 Columbia Street. The "After" picture shows the new house built at 215 Union Street with some salvaged elements of the historic house.



The history of the house provided talks about its location, calling it "one of the earliest houses to be erected near the Columbia and Union Turnpikes, in the opening year of the nineteenth century," but fails to mention that the house isn't there anymore or that the historic house no longer exists.

So much for "interpreting, conserving and maintaining buildings of architectural and historical significance."


  1. Wow. Thank you Carole Osterink for your hard work researching and reporting on these issues. Where would Hudson be without you?

  2. And, to add insult to injury, the demolition site of the Asylum at 7th and State is still a demolition site 2 YEARS LATER. Piles of bricks and other debris still guarded by concrete barricades and large fencing. And our so-called Code Enforcement says that Galvan can keep it there "as long as they need to." "But didn't you issue Galvan a barricade permit, Craig? And wouldn't that permit have expired by now?" "No, they didn't need a permit, they weren't issued one. Stop bothering us, we are very busy." B HUSTON

  3. I am confused. How does a foundation based on Doris Duke saving the historic buildings of Newport RI meld with the Industry of Poverty ?

  4. Galvan has carte blanche in this town. He bought and paid for it. Appalling.