Two Common Council ad hoc committees met last night: the one discussing City-owned property and the other pursuing the idea of creating a solar farm. Gossips will report on the committee meetings in two parts, beginning with the committee dealing with City-owned property.
Council president Tom DePietro reported that the City would be renting office space for the Code Enforcement Office, but he did not reveal where the space was. Since the Code Enforcement Office is the only occupant of the building, the City is now free to sell it. DePietro told the other members of the committee present--Rebecca Wolff (First Ward) and Jane Trombley (First Ward)--that they would be undertaking the "fun project" of "designing the future" of 429 Warren Street.
The rest of the meeting has taken up discussing the two houses the City owns in or near the cemetery. The committee is exploring the possibility of selling both houses. The houses are relics of an earlier time in Hudson. They started out as the residences of the Commissioner of Public Works and the Commissioner of Cemeteries.
The first house, which is located off Ten Broeck Lane, in the older part of the cemetery and near the water treatment plant, was originally the home of the Commissioner of Public Works. It was adjacent to the City's water supply, then retained in an open reservoir, and part of the reason for having the commissioner live in close proximity was to prevent interference with the city's water.
At sometime during the 20th century, the house became part of the compensation package for the Superintendent of Public Works, and it remained so until Charlie Butterworth, who had held the position since 1969, retired in 2006. The house is now empty. A few years ago, it suffered interior damage, especially in the kitchen, when frozen pipes burst.
The other house is located near the entrance to the Cedar Park section of the cemetery. A couple of years ago, Gossips discovered that, in 1983, the house had been nominated for individual listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The post published at that time about the house can be found here. Shirley Dunn's research for the nomination revealed that the house and the land around it, now Cedar Park Cemetery, once belonged to William Brocksbank, who was a florist and nurseryman and raised plants and flowers on the site.
It is not known exactly when the house was built, but it was probably sometime in the 1850s. The house appears on the 1873 Beers Altas map, identified as "Brocksbank Nursery." At that time, the house was outside the city limits in Greenport, but 1897, after the City of Hudson had purchased the property to expand the cemetery, the boundary was moved to bring the house and the land that is the cemetery into the City of Hudson.
For many years, the house was the residence of the Commissioner of Cemeteries. Memorial Day parades, which started at Front Street and marched all the way to the cemetery, concluded with speeches from the porch of the house. The image below, which is a still from one of Josef Cipkowski's home movies, shows people gathered in front of the house at the end of the Memorial Day parade in 1939.
When Dunn was writing about it in 1983, the house was used as a funeral chapel, a residence, probably still for the Commissioner of Cemeteries, and an office for the administrator of the cemetery. In 1996, the Cemetery Department was merged with the Department of Public Works, and the position of Commissioner of Cemeteries was abolished. Today, the office of the clerk of the cemetery is located in the house. The rest of the house is divided into two apartments which are rented to a former employee of DPW and her mother-in-law.
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