Thursday, April 29, 2021

Obsessed About Windows

Walter Chatham, the architect now representing the Galvan Foundation, seems to have persuaded the Historic Preservation Commission that windows configured as they appear in an early engraving of 400 State Street would make the building look "grim," "prisonlike," and "frighteningly institutional." Based on evidence provided by photographs of buildings in England, Ireland, and West Virginia, Chatham has argued that nine over nine windows not twelve over twelve, the configuration of the windows in the engraving, were what would originally have been in the building.

With a little help from a friend, Gossips has managed to put together some examples of buildings located in closer proximity to Hudson that have twelve over twelve windows, like those shown in the engraving of 400 State Street. The first example is Masschusetts Hall at Harvard in Cambridge (that's Massachusetts not England).

Photo: Wikipedia
Massachusetts Hall is the oldest surviving building at Harvard College and the second oldest academic building in the United States. It was constructed between 1718 and 1720 as a dormitory "containing 32 chambers and 64 small private studies for the 64 students it was designed to house."

Another example is the Old Town Hall in Salem, Massachusetts, which was built in 1816 to 1817, about the same time that the Hudson Almshouse was constructed (1818). 

The Old Town Hall is the oldest surviving municipal building in Salem.

A little research discovered several pictures to demonstrate that the twelve over twelve window configuration was neither "frighteningly institutional" nor exclusively institutional. To share a few of those examples, here is the Richard Derby House in Salem, now part of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site.

Photo: Wikipedia

There is also the Pierce-Hichborn House in Boston, which is immediately adjacent to the Paul Revere House and is now operated as a museum by the Paul Revere Memorial Association. 

Photo: Wikipedia

And this house on Elm Street in Marblehead, one of several examples found in that Massachusetts town.

Photo: Instagram|rickinmarblehead

It is believed that Robert Jenkins, son of Seth Jenkins, one of the original Proprietors, designed the Hudson Almshouse. Robert Jenkins was born in Nantucket and came to Hudson with his family in 1783, at the age of 11. How much more likely is it that Jenkins would have been influenced in his design for the almshouse by buildings in Massachusetts than by buildings in England, Ireland, or West Virginia?


  1. thanks Carole for supporting good architecture with cogent examples. Hudson indeed was founded by people from Massachusetts.

    smaller panes were also a function of glass making at that time. sheets of glass would come later, when manufacturing advanced.

  2. Carole, you've made an excellent argument. Galvan shouldn't be allowed to cut corners with irrelevant examples and a side of thoughtless word salad. They purchased an important piece of Hudson's history and have taken on the role of caretaker. They should show better stewardship than this.

  3. The Hudson Almshouse is built on the axis to the Columbia County Supreme Courthouse and should go through the same extensive research / restoration.

  4. This building was constructed as an almshouse, converted to a lunatic asylum, and later utilized as an orphanage, all relatively "grim" and "frighteningly institutional" uses, particularly in the early 19th century. No reason whatsoever it should not retain an appearance consistent with the history of its uses as well as true to its architectural history.

  5. And the Old State House in Boston.

  6. ...and the Ludlow House right in Claverack.