Tuesday, June 21, 2022

After All the Years . . .

Early this morning, Joey and I spent half an hour in the Public Square, waiting while the Gossipsmobile got its annual inspection at Todd Farrell's. Spending some time on foot in Hudson's East End gave me a chance to notice things I often miss--one thing in particular being the "For Sale" sign on the Park Place firehouses, once the home of Edmonds Hose, Hudson's oldest fire company, and Phoenix Hose. 

I don't know how long the sign has been there, but noticing it today inspires me to recount what has happened with this pair of firehouses over the past fifteen years.

When the Central Fire Station was built back in 2004, the plan was to pay for it by selling all the historic firehouses. It was anticipated that the six firehouses could be sold for $500,000 a piece, but things didn't work out as planned. The members of J. W. Hoysradt Hose Company refused to give up their historic firehouse and move to the Central Fire Station, there was public opposition to selling Washington Hose because of its location at the entrance to Promenade Hill, and it was discovered that the two firehouses on Park Place, which the City initially intended to sell as two separate buildings, were structurally just one building. By 2006, only two historic firehouses had been sold--C. H. Evans Hook & Ladder, now The Spotty Dog, and Rogers Hose, now American Glory--and there was great interest in selling the firehouses on Park Place. An alderman at the time, I held open houses on a couple of weekends to let prospective buyers view the firehouses. Finally, in an auction that took place on site and involved a brief bidding war, Marshall Trachtenberg cast the winning bid of $325,000, and became the new owner of this piece of Hudson history.

For more than ten years, it wasn't clear what the plans were for the firehouses, but in 2018, Trachtenberg appeared before the Planning Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals (a parking variance was required), and the Historic Preservation Commission seeking approval for his plan to adapt the ground floor to be a marketplace and tasting room for New York State craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries, and create living space for his family on the second floor. In developing his plan, Trachtenberg did an admirable job of researching the building's history. 

The pair of firehouses, constructed in 1868, were designed by local architect Peter Avery, the same architect who designed Hudson's first city hall, now Hudson Hall. Originally, J. W. Edmonds Hose and C. H. Evans Hook & Ladder fire companies were housed there. In 1890, when the C. H. Evans company moved to its new firehouse in the 400 block of Warren Street, the right bay became the firehouse for Phoenix Hose.

Trachtenberg proposed a complete restoration of the facade, including what he called the "grand gesture" of re-creating the original arches over the engine bays.

Alas, nearly four years have passed since the plan was proposed and the approvals granted, but no work was ever begun. Now the building is for sale again. Let's hope this time it is acquired by someone who not only intends to do right by it but also can and will follow through with those intentions.

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