Thursday, September 27, 2012

Save the Date: Green Design and Historic Preservation Seminar

Green Design and Historic Preservation: Exploring the Historic Building Envelope
When:  Friday, October 19, 2012; 1:00 – 5:30 PM
Where: UMass-Amherst, Campus Center, Room 165-169
Cost:    Free

Introduction: Max Page
Max Page, PhD, is Professor of Architecture and History at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and a 2003 Guggenheim Fellow. He is the author of The Creative Destruction of Manhattan, 1900-1940 (University of Chicago Press, 1999), which won the Spiro Kostof Award of the Society of Architectural Historians, for the best book on architecture and urbanism; co-edited (with Steven Conn) Building the Nation: Americans Write Their Architecture, Their Cities, and Their Environment and (with Randall Mason) Giving Preserving a History: Histories of Historic Preservation in the United States. For the hundredth anniversary of Times Square in 2004, he curated the centennial exhibition on the history of the Square. He wrote a regular column for Architecture magazine, and has written for other popular magazines, including the New York Times, Metropolis, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe. Most recent books are: The City's End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears, and Premonitions of Nework's Destruction and Reconsidering Jane Jacobs.

Lisa Kersavage:  Positioning Preservation in the Center of Green Building

Lisa Kersavage is Project Manager of the Lower Mississippi River Delta Design Initiative. She is responsible for the planning, development and initial implementation of the project, in collaboration with staff from the Environmental Defense Fund and Van Alen Institute, as well as the New Orleans-based Leadership Team, institutional and corporate partners, and consultants. Lisa has more than fifteen years of experience in urban planning, urban sustainability and historic preservation work, and extensive experience in non-profit leadership. Before joining EDF and VAI, she was the Senior Director of Preservation and Sustainability at the Municipal Art Society of New York, where she also served as the Director of Advocacy and Policy and the Kress/R.F.R Fellow for Historic Preservation and Public Policy. She has held positions as a public policy consultant to the William Penn Foundation in Philadelphia, Executive Director of the James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation and Executive Director of Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts. Lisa received her M.S. in historic preservation, with an urban planning focus, from Columbia University and her B.A. in art and architectural history from Penn State University.
Mathew Bronski: Historic Envelope
Matthew Bronski, PE is a senior project manager in the Boston office of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc. (SGH). He also serves as the Practice Leader for Preservation Technology across SGH’s six nationwide offices. Since joining SGH in 1995, he has focused on investigating and diagnosing the causes and consequences of building envelope and structural problems in historic buildings, and designing sensitive and appropriate repairs, rehabilitations or restorations to solve those problems. As the 2009-10 recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Rome Prize in Historic Preservation and Conservation.

Jack Alvarez:  Merits of Original Windows
Jack Alvarez, AIA is a partner in Landmark Consulting LLC. His work has specialized in both residential design and in the restoration and sensitive adaptation of historic buildings as a result of over fifteen years working for architectural firms renowned for their high profile restorations of several Newport grand mansions, Federal-era presidential homes as well as the sensitive retrofit of West Coast landmarks for seismic requirements. Most recently he has worked on the restoration of Thomas Jefferson's homes, Poplar Forest & Monticello and James Madison's home, Montpelier, all in rural Virginia. In 2005 he had overseen the restoration of the Newport Country Club, a neo-classical, late 19th century masterpiece.

Tom Hartman:  Improving Performance of Historic Building Thermal Envelopes
Tom Hartman, AIA is a principal with Coldham&Hartman Architects, a full service architectural practice designing residential, commercial, and institutional buildings for public, private, and non-profit entities. The firm’s underlying mission is a professional commitment to fine architecture, and specifically to elevating "green" design to a high order of aesthetic refinement. Their focus on building rehabilitation founded in the belief that revitalization of old buildings is key to keeping our cities and towns alive, and to solving the planet’s energy puzzle.

UMass Historic Building: Holdsworth Hall Rehabilitation
Carl Fiocchi, MArch teaches Green Design and Historic Preservation in the Historic Preservation Program and Energy Modeling and Building Physics in the Architecture and Building Construction Technology Programs. He is concurrently doing dissertation research involving energy analysis of three iconic Modernist structures on the UMass-Amherst campus, i.e. Fine Arts Center, DuBois Library, and Lincoln Campus Center.

Ben Weil, PhD teaches courses in energy efficient buildings. With primary responsibility for the Extension Program in building energy, his research program is responsive to the needs of various stakeholders in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including home builders, architects, weatherization companies, energy utilities, state government agencies, town governments, environmental and community organizations, and homeowners. He is particularly interested in the social and behavioral dimensions of energy efficiency. He is a building analyst certified with the Building Performance Institute, and continues to enjoy building diagnostics. He manages the online Green Building Certificate for the BCT program.
Ludmilla Pavlova, AIA is Senior Facilities Planner in Campus Planning at UMass Amherst and is responsible for master plan programming and planning for research, academic and administrative facilities and developing design guidelines. She has managed the planning of major capital projects Passionate about campus sustainability she helped author the first UMass Amherst Sustainability Plan.

Closing remarks:  Max Page
For more information about the M.Sc. in historic preservation at UMass-Amherst:

Directions & Parking:
For directions and maps:
Parking is available at the Campus Center garage (for a fee).

Learning Units:

For all architects, learning units can be earned by attending this or any of the WMAIA monthly programs. For more information regarding learning units contact Lorin Starr at

LEED Credential Maintenance credits are available through self-reporting.  4 Non-LEED credits are possible for those attending the entire event.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hudson Armory on its way to the National Register of Historic Places

Last Spring I completed an historic structure report for the present owner of the former NYS armory in Hudson, New York.  I also submitted paperwork to the NY State Historic Preservation Office to have the armory included on the National Register of Historic Places.  I received word earlier this week that SHPO has reviewed and accepted my submission - - it's been sent to the National Park Service for final review.  Plans are being drawn up now to repurpose the structure as a new home for the library.  Below is an excerpt from the historic structure report:

The Armory as a New Building Type

The term armory was introduced in the militia’s vocabulary in the 1860’s and used almost exclusively after 1870 to describe facilities built or adapted for the sole use of the militia.  However, it was not until 1879 when the Seventh Regiment erected its armory in Manhattan’s Upper East Side that the term came to define a new, uniquely American building type.  Because of its scale, prominence, setting, design and decoration, the Seventh Regiment’s armory on Park Avenue was—and still is—regarded as the epitome of the building type.

In general terms, armories built after 1879 were structures that served many purposes, the foremost of which was the headquartering of local militia units.  They are all two part buildings: a forward administration structure with attached drill shed to the rear.  Many, such as the armory in Hudson, were castellated fortresses whose design was derived from the medieval European, gothic military architecture they sought to emulate.  The characteristics of the building type can be divided into four categories:  function; form, layout, and construction; location and setting; and architectural design and decoration.   


Armories served as military facilities, clubhouses and public monuments.   As military facilities they served as headquarters for localized units of the state militia.  Weapons, munitions, tools and equipment were stored there.  The drill sheds afforded a place to train year round, unhampered by weather conditions.  And they served as a place to gather in times of emergency.  Armories were also clubhouses for their members, many of whom were members of the middle- and upper-classes; they were a gathering place for social and recreational purposes.  As public monuments, armories stood as a symbolic (and quite literal) reminder of the government’s presence and military might in the community, particularly during the post-Civil War era of labor-capital conflict.

Form, Layout and Construction

As far as layout and construction are concerned, armories built after 1879 followed the model and design of the Seventh Regiment:  multi-storied forward structures for office and administration with massive drill sheds attached to the rear.  All late nineteenth century armories were masonry structures that featured load bearing walls.  Aesthetically, the administration buildings dominated the design and appearance of armories after 1879; functionally, the drill sheds were their reason for being.  Practice on the village green was often impeded by weather; the need for a climactically controlled space, year round, was the reason for the advent of the new building type.  

The construction of the drill sheds, often tens of thousands of square feet of open space, required the use of state of the art engineering and technology, particularly the use of enormous steel trusses to support the vast roofs of the sheds.  The inspiration for the massive open floor spaces was the relatively new train shed building type (Grand Central Depot, New York, 1871) and the exhibition hall (Centennial Exhibition, Philadelphia, 1876.)   In the Seventh Regiment’s and all extant, subsequent drill sheds, the truss work remained exposed, a hallmark feature of the armory building type.

Location and Setting

Armories were erected as near to the center of their communities as possible.  They were a daily reminder of the government’s military strength and presence, particularly in times of unrest when they reassured the law abiding citizens and were a foreboding symbol to those who would create disturbances.  And members did not want to travel to the outskirts of town for drill practice or mandatory meetings, or a social event at the armory.

Architectural Design and Decoration

The design of the Seventh Regiment and all armories erected after 1879 was most influenced by the architecture of European castles and forts built between the 12th and 15th centuries.  Like the structures that influenced their design, armories featured towers with battlements and crenellated parapets, battered masonry walls, tall, narrow windows with steel bars, and gated portcullises and sally ports.  But these were not for aesthetic purposes alone.  The armory was a fortress in times of unrest that could withstand a siege, and its militia could fire upon rioters from those towers and through those windows.   

History of Building, Occupants and Architect

The Building – The Armory in Hudson

Twenty years after the formation of the 23rd Separate Company on the 24th of May of 1878, plans were made to erect a new company-sized armory in the City of Hudson.  The new armory was designed by architect Isaac G. Perry and is remarkably similar to his other armories in Whitehall, Tonawanda and Ogdensburg, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The armory cost $6,000 to build and was paid for by Columbia County.  Prior to the construction of the new armory, the rear of the courthouse was used for meetings and administrative purposes; the unit drilled on Washington Park.  The administration building most closely resembles his armory in Hornell; the drill shed there, however, is perpendicular rather than at the rear.  The Hudson armory features a raised and battered stone foundation, a tripartite, arcaded entrance pavilion and a four story tower topped with a crenelated parapet.  A shorter tower with a conical roof creates an asymmetrical fa├žade typical of Perry’s armory designs.  A major fire on December 31, 1928, destroyed much of the interior; repairs were completed in 1930.      

The Occupants – Military Units Stationed in the Armory

The armory in Hudson, New York, was home to several company-sized units in what is today the New York Army National Guard.  These units were engaged in conflicts that included the Spanish American War, World War I and World War II.  In the wake of the Civil War, the office of the New York State Adjutant General undertook an ambitious reorganization of the state’s militia designed to achieve more centralized control over training, supply and mobilization.  Among the new units of the New York National Guard was the 23rd Separate Company at Hudson.  This unit replaced a local militia company and was organized in 1878.   This unit was named “Cowles Guards” after Colonel David S. Cowles, a native son of Hudson killed in the Civil War. 

David Smith Cowles was born in Hudson in 1817.  The son of a Congregationalist preacher and educated at Yale, he entered the practice of law and eventually established his own practice.  Cowles served as district attorney in Columbia County for three terms.  When war erupted in 1861, he felt compelled to volunteer and served as a Colonel in the 128th Regiment.  On May 27, 1863, at the Battle of Port Hudson, he was killed after leading his troops against a rebel surge, preventing the lines from being overrun.  His death and subsequent funeral were well documented in the media and he remains a celebrated figure in the history of the City of Hudson.

The 23rd Separate Company retained its unit designation until 1897.  The armory was also home to Nucleus Co. I of the 203rd New York Volunteers during the Spanish American War.  In 1899, Co. D of the 1st Infantry Regiment was organized and housed at the Hudson Armory.  The armory’s men received local recognition in 1900 for enforcement of a quarantine order during a smallpox outbreak in nearby Stockport.  This unit was reorganized in 1905 as Co. F of the 10th Infantry Regiment.  The unit was called out during the Mexican Border Crisis of June 1916.  In February of 1917, the unit was dispatched to the Catskills to protect the reservoirs that supplied New York City’s drinking water after a German plot was uncovered to poison it.  In July, the unit was called into federal service and sent to northern France.  The unit saw action there and was involved in breaking the Hindenburg Line in 1918.  In 1940, the unit was reassigned to the 106th Infantry Regiment and sent to the South Pacific.  On November 20, 1943, the United States Army and 2nd Marine Division landed on Makin and Tarawa, initiating the Battles of Makin and Tarawa, in which the Japanese were defeated. The Gilbert Islands were then used to support the invasion of the Marshall Islands in February 1944.The final unit to call the Hudson Armory home was Co. B of the 152nd Engineers, from 1961 until the late 1970’s when the State decommissioned the armory; it has remained in private ownership since.

The Architect – Isaac G. Perry (1822-1904)

Born in Bennington, Vermont, in 1822, Isaac Gale Perry was raised and educated in Keeseville, New York, where his parents had relocated in 1829. Between 1832 and 1854 he completed an apprenticeship and entered into partnership with his father, Seneca Perry, a shipwright turned carpenter. By 1847, Seneca Perry and Son were advertising locally as carpenter-joiners who undertook masonry work. The Perrys were well known for their skills at constructing spiral staircases, and the younger Perry, according to one biographer, earned a local reputation as an architect before leaving Keeseville.

Isaac Perry's architectural work in Keeseville is not well documented, but it is likely that the Emma Peale residence, called "Rembrandt Hall" (1851), a Gothic Revival-style Downingesque cottage that contains a spiral staircase by the Perrys, is an early design. By 1852, Perry relocated to New York to apprentice in the office of architect Thomas R. Jackson (1826-1901). Jackson, who migrated from England as a child, rose to the position of head draftsman in the office of Richard Upjohn (1802-1872).  The New York State Inebriate Asylum (1864) was the first major project designed and constructed by Perry, and marked the turning point in his architectural career. Perry's inexperience is evident in Turner's account of the building's design. Perry later recalled that he penciled the plans with the assistance of his wife, Lucretia Gibson Perry. He also appears to have been assisted by Peter Bonnett Wight (1838-1925), the head draftsman in Jackson's firm, but Wight's role in the project is not well documented.

The First National Bank of Oxford Building, was constructed in 1894 in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, designed by Perry and built by James M. Wright of Binghamton, New York. The Clerk’s Building of the Orleans County Courthouse was constructed in the High Victorian Gothic style in 1882-3. It forms a part of the Orleans County Courthouse Historic District in the Village of Albion. He also designed the Broome County Courthouse, built in 1897-1898. The Monday Afternoon Club, located at 191 Court St., Binghamton, was built by Perry in the Second Empire style.  A 21-room, Queen Anne Victorian mansion, was built for Colonel General Edward F. Jones in 1867 and is listed on the National Register of Historical Places in the City of Binghamton. At the same time he designed and built the J. Stuart Wells House, listed on the National Register of Historical Places in 2009.

Perry is credited as the architect of about twenty armories in New York State, but supervised, and should possibly be credited for, as many as forty.  Many are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Perry is considered to have been the first state architect in New York.  Governor Grover Cleveland appointed him to oversee construction activities at the state capitol. Perry was commissioned lead architect for the New York State Capitol and served from 1883 to its completion in 1899.  He was the third and last architect of the project and designed a dome for the capitol that was never built.  Although his official title was "Capitol Commissioner," by the mid- to late 1880s, Perry had oversight responsibility for all state government building programs and he was commonly referred to as the "State Architect."  He retired in 1899, and the state legislature officially created the Office of the State Architect that same year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A brief history of the Almshouse in Hudson

The imposing stone structure located on State Street at the head of Fourth Street was built in 1818 as the almshouse for the city of Hudson. Under the New York laws of 1778, towns and cities were responsible for the care of their own poor. Previously, the poor of Hudson had been sheltered in a house, also located on State Street, which had been purchased for the purpose in 1801 from Daniel Allen. 

Today, the building envelope is in difficult condition.  Many of the details that were added when the structure was "Victorianized" in the late nineteenth century are failing.  Alterations to the fenestration have, ultimately, caused structural failures to the masonry facade.  Fortunately, the building is now owned by a foundation that is planning for an extensive restoration that will return the structure to its original glory.  A library presently occupies the space until the foundation finishes repurposing the armory, just up the street, into their new home. 

New Almshouse

The New almshouse was built by Ephraim Baldwin under the supervision of a building committee made up of Dr. John Talman, Judah Paddock, and Barnabus Waterman. The Construction costs, according to A Visible Heritage, were $5100. The plan for the almshouse was based on a plan drawn by Robert Jenkins’ own home on Warren Street, which was built in 1811 and is today the home of the Hendrick Hudson Chapter of the D.A.R. In A Visible Heritage, Ruth Piwonka and Roderic Blackburn call the almshouse building “a unique local example of surviving Federal architecture intended for institutional use.”

Insane Asylum
Around 1830, Columbia County established a poor farm on land purchased from John C. Hogeboom, and the poor of Hudson, together with paupers from the towns throughout the county, were moved to the county poor farm. In May of 1830, Dr. Samuel White, who had been practicing medicine in Hudson since 1795, established an insane asylum in the building, which he ran himself, assisted by his son, Dr. George H. White. Dr. White was a pioneer in the humane care of the mentally ill. An advertisement for his institution, published in 1841 and quoted in Ellis’ History of Columbia County, stated that “in the first ten years three hundred patients were admitted, most of whom were cured, and all were benefited.” Dr. White’s asylum closed when the state asylum at Utica opened, and his patients were transferred there.
Hudson Female Academy
In 1851, the Hudson Female Academy was established in the building, under the direction of Rev. J.B. Hague. The school enjoyed a “high reputation” and attracted students from as far away as Detroit, Milwaukee, the West Indies, and Europe. Henry Ary, who painted the portrait of George Washington that hangs in the Common Council chamber in City Hall, as well as numerous views of Mt. Merino, the Hudson River, and the city of Hudson, was on the faculty and taught drawing and painting to fourth-year students.
An 1853 catalog of the academy offers this description of 400 State Street:
"The building occupied by the Academy, was originally erected at a cost exceeding twelve thousand dollars. By an additional outlay it has been perfectly adapted to its present use. It is situated on a gentle eminence, commanding a view almost unrivalled in extent and magnificence. It contains a large and beautiful schoolroom, recitation rooms, and numerous other apartments, arranged for carrying on to the best advantage, the work of instruction. Hair Mattresses (sic) are used throughout sleeping apartments. Each room is carpeted, and furnished with table, bureau, &c., and in the arrangements generally regard has been had to comfort and elegance."
In 1865, the Hudson Female Academy moved to a building at the corner of First and Warren Street, and by 1878, when Ellis’ History of Columbia County was published, it was no longer in existence.
Private Residence of George H. Power
When the Hudson Female Academy relocated, the building on State Street became the private residence of one of the school’s trustees, George H. Power. George Power was a major force in the development of ferries and river transportation in Hudson.  His, Father, Captain John Power, had come to Hudson from Adams, Massachusetts, in 1790 and began boating on the river as early as 1804 or 1805. He founded the freighting firm of Power, Livingston & Co. and owned the first steamboat in Hudson, the Bolivar.   George was born in Hudson in 1817 and began his career in the river at the age of seventeen as the master of a vessel owned by Jeremiah Bame. Eventually George Power becomes the owner of the New York and Hudson Steamboat Company, the Hudson and Athens Ferry, and the Hudson and Catskill Ferry. The ferry boat that ran between Hudson and Athens bore his name. He was one of the original trustees of the Hudson City Savings Institution and served two terms as the mayor of Hudson.  George H. Power lived at 400 State Street from 1865 until 1881, when he sold the building to the Hudson Orphan and Relief Association and moved to 218 Warren Street, the grand house built by Thomas Jenkins, the richest of the original Proprietors.
Hudson Orphan and Relief Association
From 1881 until 1957, the Hudson Orphan and Relief Association operated a home for orphans and needy children in the building.
Hudson Area Library
In 1957, the organization, then called the Children’s Home of Columbia County, suspended custodial care of children, and the orphanage building and grounds were given to the Board of Education of the Public School System of Hudson with the stipulation that a library be developed in the building. In 1959, 400 State Street became the home of the Hudson Area Library.

This history of the library building was prepared by Historic Hudson, Inc., based on research materials available in the library’s History Room.  (

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Another look: Moving the Robert Taylor House

On September 14th I will be presenting a new proposal to the Hudson Historic Preservation Commission to move the Robert Taylor House from its present location in an abandoned industrial area into a nearby historic district. There are several images that are not part of the presentation included in this article. I took them from Wolfe House & Building Movers' website. At the very end of the article is an amazing video of Wolfe's team moving the Ingersoll House in Schenectady. Here's a look at the application:

Galvan Partners LLC seeks a Certificate of Appropriateness to relocate the Robert Taylor House from its present location at 68 South Second Street to a vacant lot at 21 Union Street in the Union/Allen/Front Street Historic District.  Research conducted by attorney Mark Greenberg demonstrates that the Robert Taylor House is neither a legal landmark in the City of Hudson nor is it in a local historic district.  A qualified examination [1] of the structure and research of its history has revealed that it is an English building type, not Dutch, and that it does not predate the Proprietors in Hudson.  We propose to move the building into a local historic district; presumably, the Commission will welcome the building into an area where it will be protected by the historic preservation law.  A similar structure exists near our intended relocation site at 10 South Front Street.  The question before the Historic Preservation Commission is the appropriateness of the structure at 21 Union Street. 

The Robert Taylor House is neither an individual landmark nor is it located within a local historic district in the City of Hudson.  On or about October 15, 2004, the HPC passed a resolution purporting to designate the Robert Taylor house as an individual historic landmark.  Under state law, however, the HPC lacked the legal power to designate historic landmarks.[2]   The original law purported to give the Commission the power to designate structures or resources as landmarks and historic districts. (See City of Hudson Local Law No. 5 (2003), § 2(e)(III).)  This provision was amended in 2005 so as to comply with state law. The power to designate landmarks and districts resides with the Common Council. (See Local Law No. 4 (2005), § 3(e)(IV).)  The Robert Taylor House is not a legally designated historic landmark.

The resolution creating the Union/Allen/Front Street District states that the "precise boundaries [of the district are] defined in the Hudson Preservation Commission's document of recommendation for the Union-Allen-South Front Street Historic District designation dated August 21, 2006, and on file with the office of the City Clerk."[3]  The section of South Second Street that includes the Robert Taylor House is not within the Union/Allen/South Front Street District.  The list of properties that comprises the historic district does not include the subject property.  The boundary description in the Commission's "Historic District Application Form" does not include the subject property (the boundary description designates Cross Street as a southern boundary of the district).  Finally, the HPC's map identifying the boundaries of the City's historic districts shows that the Union/Allen/Front Street district does not extend to include the subject property.  The map posted on the City's website is included as figure four, below.  The Robert Taylor House is not located within a designated historic district.

While it has been established that the Robert Taylor house was not legally landmarked, let’s consider the resolution purporting to establish the Robert Taylor House as a designated landmark with respect to the argument of setting and significance.    Nowhere in the document does the author or the HPC cite the significance of the structure’s specific location with respect to “viewscape,” real or imagined.  The structure was purportedly landmarked because it was identified with an historic person and because it “possesses special character or historic or aesthetic interest or value as part of the architectural, cultural, political, economic, or social history of the locality, region, state, or nation.”[4]  Nowhere in the body of the document is the location or proximity of the structure identified as having specific value or significance in an historic context.   We submit that the argument of location with respect to “viewscape” is esoteric and arbitrary, not identified in the code as a criterion for consideration (§ 169-4 Designation of landmarks or historic districts), and not relevant to this discussion. 

Would a circa 1800, English brick structure with a gambrel roof be appropriate in the district?  According to local historian Carole Osterink, “there is visual evidence that at least two other houses in Hudson at one time had gambrel roofs.”[5]  An early English brick structure with a gambrel roof is found in the district at 10 South Front Street (see figures two and three, below.)  This structure also has a shed style dormer roof.  Close examination of the timber framework of the Robert Taylor House and an interview of Neil Larson of the Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture Association confirms that the structure is not an example of early Dutch vernacular architecture.  Mr. Larson indicated that it is an English structure and, therefore, was not included in John Stevens’ definitive tome on Dutch vernacular architecture in North America.[6]  Hudson City Historian Patricia Fenoff, who grew up in the Robert Taylor House, dispelled the myth that the structure predates the Proprietors.  In a May 2012 interview, Fenoff said that Taylor built the house in the 1790’s.[7]  The Robert Taylor House is entirely appropriate in its intended location at 21 Union Street.

There is ample precedence for the appropriateness of relocating historic structures when their current location is not integral to their historic status, particularly where, as here, the move will enhance an existing historic district and enable the property to be restored and presented in a more favorable setting.  In June 2008, Hamilton Grange National Memorial, the 1802 home of Alexander Hamilton in New York City, was relocated from a cramped lot on Convent Avenue to a more spacious setting facing West 141st Street in nearby St. Nicholas Park, where it underwent a complete restoration.  It was the second time the 298-ton mansion had been moved. In 1889 it was relocated from its original site on West 143rd Street.[8] 
The movement of the Hamilton Grange property is one of many noteworthy examples of historic properties that have been moved to better locations in order to restore them and/or present them in a more favorable setting.[9]  In that case it was no less than the National Park Service – the entity that sets the standards for historic preservation in the United States – that chose to move the structure.  Their rationale was simple:  the new location was a better setting.[10] We look to the NPS as leaders in historic preservation and cite the example of Hamilton Grange.  We submit that the Robert Taylor House, restored appropriately, on lower Union Street, will be an improvement for the historic district and the structure which currently sits alone in a shuttered industrial area (see figures five, six and seven, below.)

The Robert Taylor House is neither a landmark in the City of Hudson nor is it in a local historic district.  We propose moving the building from its current location, lost among abandoned warehouses in an industrial district, into a nearby historic district.  There, it will be restored appropriately and enhance lower Union Street while being protected by the Historic Preservation law.  The question before the Historic Preservation Commission is the appropriateness of the structure at its intended destination of 21 Union Street.  We address the criteria to answer that question below: 

Application of Hudson’s Historic Preservation law:
§ 169-6. Criteria for approval of certificate of appropriateness.

A. In passing on an application for a certificate of appropriateness, the Historic Preservation Commission shall not consider changes to interior spaces unless they are specifically landmarked. The Commission's decision shall be based on the following principles:

(1) Properties that contribute to the character of the historic district shall be retained, with their historic features altered as little as possible;

Not applicable as this structure is not in an historic district.  It is important, however, to examine whether or not the Robert Taylor House would be appropriate in the Union/Allen/Front Street Local Historic District.  Another example of an early English structure with a gambrel roof is found in the district at 10 South Front Street (see figures two and three, below.)  This structure also has a shed style dormer roof.  An examination of the timber frame and interview of Neil Larson of the Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture Association confirms that the Robert Taylor House is not an example of early Dutch vernacular architecture.  Mr. Larson indicated that it is an English structure and, therefore, was not included in John Stevens’ definitive tome “Dutch Vernacular Architecture in North America, 1640-1830.”  ‘Gambrel roof’ does not always equal ‘Dutch.’  Further, we submit that the question is moot; the first time a certificate of appropriateness was sought, the HPC asserted—incorrectly—that the Robert Taylor House was in the Union/Allen/Front Street Local Historic District.  Certainly the HPC would not deny the inclusion of a structure that they once thought was a part of the district.

(2) Any alteration of existing properties shall be compatible with their historic character, as well as with the surrounding district; and

There will be no alteration of the structure to consider.  With respect to the question of compatibility in the surrounding historic district, the Robert Taylor House will be relocated to a section of lower Union Street with other period structures.  The new neighboring structures date to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.  While the structure is reputed to have been built for Robert Taylor prior to 1800, the oldest record of its existence is a map from 1811.  Further, the period of significance for Robert Taylor as a “person of significance” is cited as being 1799 to 1827.   This fits perfectly with neighboring structures in the vicinity of 21 Union Street.  As discussed above, 10 South Front Street is a similar structure just around the corner from 21 Union Street that reinforces the assertion that the Robert Taylor House may be appropriately relocated here.

(3) New construction shall be compatible with the district in which it is located.

Not applicable as this is not a new construction project.  In so much as the relocated structure is viewed as a ‘new construction’-like project, the response is identical to criterion numbers one and two, above.   

B. In applying the principle of compatibility, the Commission shall consider the following factors:

(1) The general design, character, and appropriateness to the property of the proposed alteration or new construction;

The Robert Taylor house is completely appropriate in the lower Union Street section of the historic district among similar structures built with bricks laid in common bond. The roof is an English gambrel type with shed style dormer roofs which is as uncommon in its present location as it would be in the proposed site.  The structure at 10 South Front Street provides an example of a similar building with a gambrel roof and shed style dormer in the immediate vicinity of 21 Union Street.   

(2) The scale of the proposed alteration or new construction in relation to the property itself, surrounding properties, and the neighborhood;

The property is in scale with the target neighborhood. It is of comparable size and scale of the houses on lower Union Street.

(3) Texture, materials, and color and their relation to similar features of other properties in the neighborhood;

The texture, materials, and color of the Robert Taylor House are wholly compatible with others in the intended location. It is a five bay, double pile, brick structure and, while it has a gambrel roof, as opposed to a gabled or low-sloped roof, it is of the same period as many of its future neighbors at 21 Union Street.  Further, there is a five bay, double pile, brick structure with a gambrel roof around the corner at 10 South Front Street.  Hence, a precedent exists for this house style in this part of the historic district.

(4) Visual compatibility with surrounding properties, including proportion of the property's front facade, proportion and arrangement of windows and other openings within the facade, roof shape, and the rhythm of spacing of properties on streets, including setback; and,

The Robert Taylor House is visually compatible with surrounding properties.  The proportion and arrangement of the fenestration, roof shape, and the rhythm of spacing of properties on streets, including setback, make it clear that the Taylor House is an excellent fit for the proposed location at 21 Union Street.

(5) The importance of historic, architectural, or other features to the significance of the property.

Most historic, architectural features of the structure were lost through decades of neglect.  The appropriate treatments are not unknown variables and will be presented in a later application. 

10 South Front Street.  The part of the building where the entrance now is appears to be an addition. The elaborate hood over the doorway and the oriel were both very likely added in the 19th century. Studying the side of the building reveals something more.   In the back, the gable has the characteristic gambrel shape, but in the front, the slope of the roof has been straightened out to make the front wall higher to allow a bracketed cornice, another 19th-century decorative element, to be added.   According to local historian Carole Osterink, “there is visual evidence that at least two other houses in Hudson at one time had gambrel roofs.” Photo, quote and information source: http://gossipsofrivertown.blogspot. com/2012/05/janes-walk-site-2.html

The rear of 10 South Front Street.  Note the shed style dormer roof.  Photo, at left, source:

A map of the historic districts in Hudson from the City’s website.  Source:;/content/Documents/File/567.pdf

The Robert Taylor House.  Source:  Ward Hamilton

The Robert Taylor House.  Lost in an abandoned industrial district.  Source: Ward Hamilton

The Robert Taylor House.  Rear elevation.  Source:  Ward Hamilton

Undated photo of the setting/view from Robert Taylor House (structure visible in the foreground, right).  Source:  The Gossips of Rivertown blog

The "viewscape" today.  Undated photo of the view from the front of the Robert Taylor House toward the Hudson River.  Source:  The Gossips of Rivertown blog

View to the left of 21 Union Street.  Source:  Ward Hamilton

View across the street, to the right of 21 Union Street.  Source:  Ward Hamilton

View directly across the street from 21 Union  Street.  Source:  Ward Hamilton

View across the street, to the left, from 21 Union Street.  Source:  Ward Hamilton

View to the right of 21 Union Street.  Source:  Ward Hamilton

[1]  Secretary of the Interior’s Standards:  Professional Qualifications Standards for Architectural Historian to perform identification, evaluation, registration, and treatment activities, U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR Part 61

[2] See General Municipal Law § 96-a; Matter of Snyder Development Co. v. Town of Amherst Town Board, 12 AD3d 1092, 1093 (4th Dept. 2004) ("General Municipal Law § 96-a provides, in relevant part, that the power to designate historic sites resides with the governing board of a [municipality]…")

[3] City of Hudson, NY – Historic Preservation documents – Resolution designating the Union-Allen-South Front Street Area as a Historic District  ( Documents/File/568.pdf)

[4] City of Hudson, NY – Historic Preservation documents, Robert Taylor House - 68 South Second Street ( documents /content/Documents/File/956.pdf)

[5] Gossips of Rivertown blog (

[6] Stevens, John.  Dutch Vernacular Architecture in North America, 1640-1830.  New York: Society for the Preservation of Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture, 2005

[7] Two historic homes may be moved, by John Mason, Hudson Register-Star, May 8, 2012

[8] Moving the Grange, and Twisting It Around, Too, by  David W. Dunlap, New York Times, February 18, 2008

[9] National Park Service website (

[10] Hamilton Grange; A Move to Move A Historic House, by  Christopher Gray, New York Times, March 21, 1993