Friday, March 24, 2023

Taking Nothing for Granite

This morning, the Historic Preservation Commission granted a certificate of appropriateness to the plans for converting the buildings at Fourth and Warren streets into a hotel to be called the Hudson Public. The review by the HPC has been going on since the beginning of the year, and the design for the hotel has evolved in that time. It's useful to compare how it started with what it is today.

What was originally proposed

What was approved today

The certificate of appropriateness was granted with these ten conditions:
  1. Any new mortar will be matched to existing mortar in color, composition, and substance on existing buildings.
  2. The original patina of the brick on existing buildings shall be maintained and any cleaning that is done shall be nonabrasive and not debride the finish.
  3. The applicant shall return to the Historic Preservation Commission for approval of specifications and details for all windows, doors, and light fixtures.
  4. The applicant shall return to the Historic Preservation Commission for approval of sign materials and details.
  5. The applicant shall return to the Historic Preservation Commission for approval of cornices over windows on the two new infill buildings. The applicant shall consider a projection of at least 2 inches from the face of the brick to create a shadow.
  6. Materials for stone lintels on infill buildings shall match those on existing buildings.
  7. Building gutters shall be integral; any exterior gutters require approval of the Historic Preservation Commission.
  8. Roof shingles will be asphalt timberline shingles.
  9. The water table on the north elevation is stucco on masonry.
  10. Corrugated metal on new construction at rear shall be unpainted galvanized or ungalvanized metal.
Now for the part of the report that explains the title of this post. At the last HPC meeting, Walter Chatham, the architect for the project, said he thought the surviving stone on the facade of 402 Warren Street was granite, and hence all new stone needed to restore the colonnade on the existing building and for the lintels and sills on the infill buildings would be granite. 

Matt McGhee, steadfast observer and critic of the HPC, maintained that the stone was marble and suggested that it was the same type of marble found on 260 Warren Street, the current location of Lawrence Park.

Photo: Monthie Collection, Columbia County Historical Society

After that meeting, Chatham investigated further and concluded that the stone was indeed marble, an opinion he said had been confirmed by the sixteen people with stone expertise he had consulted. Based on his investigation and research, Chatham posited that the marble on the building was from Danbury, Maine, a specific type now known as White Olympian Danbury marble. According to Chatham, that is the marble that was originally used for the building and that is the marble that will be used to restore the colonnade of the existing building. The columns and entablatures of the infill buildings, as well as the lintels and sills, will also be marble.  


  1. Thank you so much' Matt McGhee for being a
    "steadfast observer and critic of the HPC" ;
    in such an intelligent and caring way. Your voice is a much appreciated one.

  2. I don't think of Matt McGhee or anyone who makes thoughtful and informed contributions to HPC deliberation as a "critic". The public is an integral part of our process and people like Matt are contributing partners in making preservation and HPC better.

    1. Phil Foreman: I am quoting from Gossips column above.
      I took of the use of word "critic" here as not negative rather in this sentence, as meaning - critique in a useful, informed way. I really like hearing from Mr. McGhee, who is a very knowledgeable citizen, attending HPC meetings .

    2. Thank you, Prison Alley. That is exactly the meaning of "critic" I intended when I called Matt McGhee a "steadfast observer and critic of the HPC."

  3. I was on the Planning Board when the previous owner came to us with his proposal for that location. If memory serves, that was in 1853.

  4. The building used to be the Plaza Hotel at one time.