Friday, January 21, 2022

Watching the Old William Ball Place

Work is underway on restoring 260 State Street, which suffered a devastating fire at beginning of 2018. Earlier this week, a question from a reader inspired Gossips to head over there and have a look. 

The work being done on the dormers in the mansard roof and the mansard roof itself, which is now stripped of its slate tiles, are reasons for concern. The house is not located in a historic district, and the Historic Preservation Commission has no oversight in the restoration.

When the owner of the building appeared before the Planning Board--the only regulatory board involved with the project--in August 2021, his intention was to correct some alarming information about the plans for the building that had been presented at the previous meeting. He assured the Planning Board that the original slate on the mansard roof was to be repaired not replaced with asphalt shingles as had been previously stated. At the present time, it doesn't look like repair is what is happening.

The dormers in the mansard roof were not specifically mentioned in the presentation to the Planning Board, but the owner told the board, "Anything that we can maintain we will." Seeing the house today raises the question: Is the current state of the dormers a preliminary step in re-creating the dormers as they originally were, with arched windows and decorative mouldings, or is this some bizarre new design for the the dormers?

The documents provided to the Planning Board in the site plan review offer no clues. And since the Historic Preservation Commission is not involved, we can only wait and see.

The house is being renovated to create eight market rate apartments--four studio apartments on the first floor, and four larger apartments on the upper two floors.


  1. It is not appropriate for the Planning Board to consider, and the Planning Board has no jurisdiction, over either architectural style or historical preservation, is that not the case Carole?

    I also don't think historical preservation is at the top of the hierarchy of needs, as to what gets the polis closer to Aristotelian perfection, nor have I found my experiences with the HPC to be a self actualizing experience.

    Oh, and by the way, I find mansard roofs butt ugly, and if excised from the planet, I I doubt I would shed a tear, not even one. So color me biased, but I would say the same even if I loved the architecture, but then if I loved the architecture, it seems more likely than not the architectural cognescenti will disdain it as infra dig. So that particular hypothetical seems far fetched.

    I might add that what I did on Robinson Street if the HPC ruled the roost on that block. I would have been put in the penalty box, a veritable Philistine. May they not show up until my weakened heart finally fails, so I am not around to witness that particular denouement.

  2. The sad news is that the original windows could have been easily saved. it just takes some time and ingenuity to do so.

    the owner may be a neophyte, but the Hudson vernacular suffers.

    Many in town could help solve these problems if there were a way for the new owners to get some assistance. the repair and restoration process can be daunting. in the end, we all lose.

  3. Wish you spent more time commenting on the real disgusting buildings being erected by Galloway on State Street. This project needs no HP approval. Give it a rest.

  4. That was an enormous fire, did you see it? It is a wonder that the building did not have to be demolished. When you start taking apart a decaying or fire damaged structure it is not always possible to preserve things, once you start removing burnt and damaged components, the damage is usually worse and more extensive than it seems. At least it is being rebuilt with some resemblance to the original design. I would be more concerned with the four studio apartments. The building is not that big and cramming four apartments into one floor will make them so small it would seem more like four motel rooms than habitable apartments.

  5. I was there during that fire and the winter weeks afterwards when the streets were frozen puddles of icy debris. Hooray for the people funding this restoration. Thank you for cleaning up my block! The building size seems small for 8 apartments. I think it is possible that the plans will continue to be adapted as the renovation moves along. There are usually many surprises when renovating.