Hudson Historic District
The Hudson Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2008, The Gombach Group.
The Hudson Historic District comprises a large area (139 acres) of the city of Hudson and includes the commercial core and distinctive residential neighborhoods of this major Hudson Valley municipality. There are 756 contributing resources dating from 1783 to 1935 that include 748 contributing buildings, five contributing structures and three contributing objects. A total of 48 contributing features in the district (45 buildings, 2 structures, 1 object) are already listed on the National Register as part of an existing district or individual designations (Front Street-Parade Hill-Lower Warren Street Historic District, listed 1970; Cornelius Evans House, listed 1974).
The boundaries of the Hudson Historic District have been established to include the extent of intact significant resources that represent the development of the city from its inception in 1783 through its last major building period in the 1930s. Hudson's grid plan, five streets wide and nine streets long, focused different types of development into particular zones, which has contributed to the dividing of boundaries. Generally, the boundaries include properties on three of the city's five major east-west streets and intervening cross-streets and alleys. Warren Street, the east-west axis and commercial core of the city, is included virtually in its entirety from Front Street to Prospect Avenue. A section of the south side of Warren east of number 727 has been excluded from the district because it has been seriously compromised by major alterations and large-scale modern construction. Later twentieth century subdivision characterizes the section of the city east of the grid. While it cannot be linked and, in many cases, does not contribute to the significance of the district, certain areas and properties are significant in their own right. (Some individual components and Rossman Avenue-Prospect Avenue Historic District). The two parallel streets south of Warren Street, Union and Allen, are also included: Union Street, between Front and Seventh Streets and Allen Street from Front Street to where it terminates at Fifth Street. Beyond Seventh Street, Union Street is characterized by small scale, later residential construction and modern commercial intrusions such as supermarkets and supply houses. These are the principal residential streets in the city, and they contain distinguished examples of architectural styles and local taste through the full period of significance. The architecture on the two remaining east-west streets, Columbia and State Streets, is mixed with industrial, commercial and very modest residential types characterizing Columbia Street and rows of frame working-class and middle-class housing of varied periods and designs appearing on State Street. Historic buildings on both streets west of Second Street have been demolished as part of urban renewal and replaced with modern low-income housing. Because of the uncohesiveness of the streetscapes in this area due to alterations, modern sidings, demolition and deterioration, Columbia and State Streets have been excluded from the district except at the intersections of Fourth, Sixth and Seventh Streets, where those important axes are distinguished with notable public architecture and/or residences. Later housing predominates farther north. South of the district, the topography drops off dramatically into a wet area known as South Bay. This is an old industrial section now populated with modern factory structures. Housing in this area is scattered, modest and altered. A surviving nineteenth-century industrial building (Hudson and Boston Railroad Shops), an early brick, gambrel roofed residence (Robert Taylor House) and the Hudson Railroad Station are the only significant historic properties in this zone and are individual components in the multiple resource area.
The layout of the city provided alleys in between the east-west streets. Hundreds of outbuildings survive on these narrow access roads to rear property lines, many of which date within the period of significance and contribute to the district. Many of the outbuildings have been either converted to or replaced by garages that do not necessarily contribute to the district. The widest alley, known as Partition Street and located between Allen and Union Streets, has a few houses located on it; this is the only area in which this occurs.
The intervening north-south streets, originating at Front Street at the western end of the grid and thus proceeding numerically to First through Eighth Streets, contain few buildings. The long rectangular dimensions of the lots fronting on east-west streets and the division by alleys provided little space for development on the short blocks. A few exceptions exist and those appear on three principal north-south streets: Third, Fourth and Sixth Streets. Third Street is the primary southern entrance to the city and has lots with frontage.
Fourth Street was conceived as a major central axis in the grid design with the courthouse and square located at its southern terminus and the almshouse (now a library) closing the view at the northern terminus. In between, notable public buildings such as the post office, a church, a newspaper office (formerly the city jail) and two schools distinguish the various intersections. Vistas along this street are particularly suggestive of the formality and aesthetic value of the grid plan.
Sixth Street, a northern route exiting the city, developed as a major point of interest in the late nineteenth century as the railroad and industrial activity in the area led to the erection of significant public buildings, a church, a school and a railroad station in addition to the historic Gifford Iron Works (altered and outside the district to the east) and the monumental Harder Knitting Mill (outside the district to the north). Housing for the middle class as well as the working class was built in this area in this era, distinctive contiguous examples of which are included within the district boundaries. An intact commercial streetscape on the southern side of Columbia Street, above Seventh Street, at the junction of turnpike routes to the interior of the county is related to the development of this uptown neighborhood and is included in the district even though its linkage to Sixth Street is broken physically by modern industrial and commercial buildings.
Front Street between Allen Street and Warren Street is listed on the National Register as part of the Front Street-Parade Hill-Lower Warren Street Historic District. Since its designation in 1970, the western side of Front Street has been demolished for the creation of low-income housing. Spot demolition has occurred on the eastern side of the street as well. The western side of the street and a small portion of the eastern side has been excluded from the Hudson Historic District with the exception of a surviving nineteenth-century firehouse and a park overlooking the Hudson River on Promenade, or Parade, Hill, created when the city was established in 1783.
Outside of the above mentioned variations, the boundary of the district follows the rear property lines of properties on the north side of Warren Street and the south side of Allen and Union Streets.
The physical composition of the Hudson Historic District can be summarized as follows: commercial buildings are concentrated on Warren Street; public buildings predominate at the central core of the district along the principal axes (Warren and Fourth Streets); residential architecture is located on Union and Allen Streets with pretentious houses predominating near the central core, gradually giving way to smaller scale residences at the fringes; finally, industrial buildings and related housing are dispersed in various parts of the district.
In general, the distribution follows a very orderly pattern based on the historic grid plan of the city. Warren Street, the central east-west axis, was conceived of as the commercial street. The intersecting fourth Street axis was planned to be a major focal point merging the commercial, public and governmental activities in the city. Housing was the next use emanating from the core with distinctive middle-class neighborhoods developing south of Warren Street on Union and Allen Streets and more modest neighborhoods with architecture of more common design appearing north of Warren Street. Large, elegant houses of conspicuous design are concentrated toward the Fourth Street axis; older neighborhoods are preserved west of Third Street, and neighborhoods with smaller houses and a greater amount of later development can be identified east of Fifth Street. The grid was devised to establish a pattern for everyday activity and growth. The rapid growth of the city and the compactness of the plan contributed to solidifying the imprint so that Hudson survives intact both in form and function after 200 years of growth and development.
While the area within the district was established all at once and early architecture exists from Front Street to Seventh Street, the greatest concentration of eighteenth, century buildings in the district is found on the western, riverside portion of the district. Front Street and lower Warren Street contain important examples of Hudson's earliest buildings, but lower Union Street has equally distinguished Federal period houses and rows (Lower Allen Street was not opened until the 1830s). Although many have experienced alterations in later nineteenth century periods, these houses constitute an important collection of Federal period architecture in the Hudson Valley especially as it was the result of a direct transplanting of New England people and taste.
The houses embody distinctive features of New England building traditions and are distinguishable from the Dutch vernacular traditions evident elsewhere in the region. The absence of any Dutch influence (the one Dutch house at the landing when the Hudson proprietors purchased the site was demolished over a hundred years ago) is a significant physical attribute of this Hudson Valley community. Representative of the eighteenth-century early Federal buildings built in Hudson is number 116 Union Street, a two-story frame residence with a massive center chimney built c.1785. Two gambrel roofed examples, built c.1785 in brick and located at 126 Union Street and 12 Front Street, exemplify the New England usage of this roof system also popular with the local Dutch community. The house at 126 Union Street also illustrates characteristic brickwork of the period with its belt coursing, flat arches, and Flemish bonding. Later modification to 12 Front Street raised the roof and updated cornice detail, but the gambrel profile is still evident on the rear elevation.
The formal, two-story five-bay, center entrance brick houses of the city's proprietors and the early wealthy class are found in this area as well, notably 7, 117, 123, 211 and 241 Union Street and 113 and 115 Warren Street (the Jenkins' homes). These houses were erected within the first thirty years of Hudson's settlement and reflect the height of taste and pretension in the city in the late Federal period. The Warren Street examples are the most refined expression of the style in the city with marble details, elliptical fanlights and attenated proportions. Each of the above examples employs precise masonry in a Flemish bond. Otherwise the architecture in the city is an eclectic mix of later nineteenth century styles embodying features of the Greek Revival, Italianate, Second Empire and Queen Anne styles. Hudson also has a remarkable collection of buildings with early twentieth century designs and details.
The single most distinguishing architectural feature of the district and city is Warren Street, a dense concentration of nineteenth-century commercial and residential edifices with intact historic ornamentation. The nine blocks of the street contained in the district are a showcase of a century of architectural ornament dating from 1835 to 1935. Few intrusions, few voids and few unsympathetic storefront alterations distract the eye away from the rich historic detail.
The commercial buildings of Warren Street require separate discussion, reserving a description of the residential architecture on Warren Street for a categorial approach to the district as a whole developed below. A chronological pattern of development is quite evident in the design of Warren Street's historic architecture. A brief summary of the street follows that describes stylistic periods and their characteristics.
Early commercial architecture in the city is not particularly evident. Many examples of eighteenth and early nineteenth century commercial buildings have been the victims of progressive periods of growth. Only a portion of a Federal period warehouse survives in the wharf area and without sufficient integrity for designation (the wharves themselves no longer exist); a large warehouse located at 621-23 Warren Street (c. 1840) and the building opposite at 624 Warren Street (c. 1824) are two distinguished Federal period survivors. Their siting flanking the entrance to Warren Street west of an open area at the Seventh Street park provides a full perspective of their two corner elevations and creates a dramatic entranceway to the narrow commercial street. The large bulk of the warehouse, its broad roof gable without overhang or embellishment, marble details and arched gable window are characteristic of the period. Smaller in scale, 624 Warren Street shares the same general proportions as the warehouse with the added feature of a parapet gable end wall on the east elevation. Two central chimneys and an orderly array of fenestration distinguish the wall. Although converted to residential use, the former Bank of Hudson building at 116 Warren Street (c. 1809) is an exceptional example of Federal style architecture in the region. The two-story brick building has marble pilasters and window details and Neoclassical ornament not found elsewhere in the city.
The city has a large number of buildings erected during the Greek Revival period (1830-1860) and many of the commercial buildings on Warren Street date from this era. While some are now characterized by the styles of later facade alterations, examples that represent the Greek Revival style do survive and are generally two and one-half or three and one-half stories tall with the half-story windows incorporated into the frieze of the cornice. Early cornices are simple without fascia boards, often with a protruding brick course or panel denoting the attic level. Bracketry is a later embellishment. Fenestration is regular and symmetrical with stone lintels and sills spanning the openings. One of the most intact examples of a Greek Revival commercial building is located at 260 Warren Street. This three and one-half story, three-bay brick building contains a rare surviving storefront with stone post and lintels supporting the upper facade.
Opposite no. 260 at the important intersection of Third and Warren Streets is 259 Warren Street, a two and one-half story, six-bay brick commercial building (c. 1830). The two storefronts have received later alterations, but the form and upper level detail has been maintained. Nos. 529 & 531 Warren Street (c. 1830) are large four-story buildings with later bracketed cornices, but distinctive Greek Revival style carved stone lintels. The former Hudson City Hall, located at 327 Warren Street (1854), is one of the district's most important public edifices. Five bays wide with a broad pediment, the facade contains a series of brick pilasters enframing five panels with tall windows on the upper level and a stone basement at street level with a formal central entrance flanked by storefronts.
One streetscape in the district notable for its Greek Revival period buildings is the section of Columbia Street east of Park Place (721-757 Columbia Street). The scale and character of the period is apparent as the buildings have not been raised or redesigned as on Warren Street. Located in this row are distinctive examples of the type such as 755-57 Columbia Street, a triangular plan corner building, and 727 Columbia Street, formerly a foundry associated with the Gifford Iron Works across the street and subsequently, from the 1870's to the 1960's, a feed mill. Most of the Greek Revival buildings on Warren Street were built as, and survive as, residences and will be discussed below in a section concerned with residential architecture.
By 1850, the architecture of Warren Street was reflecting the growing popularity of the Picturesque taste. At this point, the city began to adopt the character of the regional aesthetic and lose some of its visual associations with the New England maritime cities. Although the Picturesque Movement was felt on the New England coastline, it did not affect architectural design there nearly to the degree that it influenced it in the Hudson Valley. The restraint of the Quaker proprietors is not evidenced in the 1850-1880 period.
The Picturesque Style incorporated different antiquarian styles, notably the Gothic and the Italianate. The Gothic taste found expression in residential and religious architecture in the city, but the Italianate taste had the impact in commercial design. The effect of the Italianate can be seen in the introduction of three dimensionality to facades as exemplified by segmental arched openings, often with ornate lintels carved or molded in foliate designs, and bracketed cornices with elaborate scroll-work and applied decoration. Distinctive examples of this type are found at 333 Warren Street (c. 1855), a three-story, five-bay brick building with an ornate bracketed cornice (retaining frieze windows) and ornamented lintels, arched on the second level and flat on the third. Rowles Photography Studio at 441 Warren Street (1860) is an intact three-story Italianate building with robust scrolled bracketry, arched fenestration with lancet windows, and a storefront with bracketed cornice. No. 524 Warren Street (c. 1860) retains an original entranceway with iron pilasters with Corinthian capitals in addition to molded iron, arched lintels and a wooden bracketed cornice.
This highly ornate architectural style survived on Warren Street well into the last quarter of the nineteenth century. It often manifested aspects of the Second Empire style with the addition of mansard roofs such as 136 Warren Street (c. 1870) or details derived from French Renaissance designs such as the arched hood moldings on 319 Warren Street. The Renaissance Revival, with its more accurate Roman classicism, was another variation as seen in 405-407 Warren Street (c. 1875) with its classical segmental arched entablature over the entranceway.
Commercial buildings with bracketed cornices and decorative window enframements were appearing as late as the 1890's, as exemplified in the building at 348 Warren Street (c. 1890). Restraint of the three dimensionality and stylized Neoclassical ornament were characteristic as the Queen Anne taste introduced a certain informality and eclecticism into the design tradition. The fully intact three-story, five-bay brick commercial building at 548 Warren Street (1898) reflects the style in the flatness of the facade, a cornice fully detailed with surface ornament and a central segmental arch rising above the cornice line. Two cornices composed of horizontal bands of molding and a frieze with surface ornament flank a central entrance. The 1889 fire house located at 440 Warren Street has a similar simplified cornice in addition to a pair of Romanesque arched window openings on the upper level.
Twentieth-century architectural styles are also well represented on Warren Street. Hudson experienced a growth period prior to the Depression and many public and commercial institutions expanded or updated their facilities accordingly. On Warren Street, the siting, scale, form and function determined by the grid plan was generally followed in new construction during this period causing an uncommon degree of compatibility. The already varied vocabulary or ornament in the streetscape easily accommodated the introduction of twentieth-century elements.
The three-part building built in 1905 at 426-428 Warren Street by local architect Henry S. Moul uses Romanesque forms maintaining the arched forms found throughout the commercial district. The scale, rhythm and detail is consistent, following the three-story, three-bay facade with detailed cornice format while introducing innovative forms and decoration. The commercial building at 506 Warren Street (1900) continued the scale, form and rhythm of the streetscape, three stories and three bays, as well as the arched fenestration and wooden cornice.
Two commercial buildings at 547 and 555 Warren Street (1915 and 1910 respectively) introduced large plate glass show windows on both first and upper stories but maintained appropriate facade proportions and the cornice line and detail of the streetscape. At least four banks were built in this period (520, 544, 560 and 561 Warren Street. Those at 520 (1907) (now the City Hall) and 560 (1909) are stone-faced buildings with monumental porticos in Greek orders. They are neatly inserted onto the streetscape. The two banks located at 544 (1925) and 561 (1920) Warren Street are more Neoclassical in design with entrances slightly in antis and a horizontal cornice.
Alterations to the Warren Street streetscape since the 1930's are limited to a very few additions and losses. The city has demolished buildings on the south side of Warren between Front and First Street for urban renewal, but elsewhere building loss has been minimal. The density of historic development on the street has discouraged modern construction. One gas station, one supermarket, one stainless steel diner, one prototype design convenience store and a few other modern, non-contributing buildings are scattered throughout the full length of the street. Incompatible facade changes on old buildings are limited to only two or three cases. An ongoing community development program has contributed to the rehabilitation of many historic facades.
The course of residential development in the district following settlement was as varied and as distinguished as the commercial development on Warren Street. The major residential architecture on Warren Street, Union and Allen Streets emanated from the Fourth Street axis. From its origination, the point of intersection of Warren and Fourth Streets was the focal point of the grid. With the city government and the church dominating the center, the county courthouse served as the focal point for the affluent community on the south and the almshouse provided orientation for the poorer neighborhoods on the north. Fourth Street north of Warren contains a factory at Columbia Street and tenements along most of its route. Public school buildings distinguish this as well as other industrial areas on Sixth Street and lower Allen Street. Fourth Street south of Warren is distinguished by law offices and pretentious residences.
The character of the residential architecture becomes progressively modest as the distance from Fourth and Union increases. It becomes older in the direction of the river and newer as it moves inland. The most distinctive architectural examples of any post-settlement (Federal) period exist on Allen, Union and Warren between Third and Fifth Streets. Houses located on Allen Street, in this area, tend to have the most elaborate designs.
Adjoining cross-streets, Willard Place, East and West Court Streets, and Fifth Street, have houses of status equal to Allen. The architecture on Union Street between Third and Fifth Streets is smaller scale, situated on smaller lots and more restrained but still neglects a certain concern for style. On Warren Street between Third and Fifth the distinctive houses are, with only a few exceptions, incorporated into rows with commercial buildings.
East of Fifth Street (Allen Street ends at Fifth Street), Union Street properties become less individualistic, with the exception of a concentration of Picturesque styled residences near Seventh Street, and Warren Street properties become more exclusively commercial.
West of Third Street, architecture on all three streets generally dates from the Greek Revival period or earlier with many settlement era houses surviving on Warren and Union, as described above, and with more working-class type residences located on Allen Street as it abuts the former industrial area of South Bay. The concentrations of buildings on Warren and Union is high, but Allen is less densely built-up with larger numbers of voids and a greater variation of scale and setbacks of buildings. While not appearing as neat as Union and Warren, Allen Street, west of Third, illustrates the less orderly development patterns and less predictable taste of working-class areas. This same pattern is evident in other industrial area of the city.
Thus, the distribution of residential architecture in the district can be described as dividing itself into three sections, that between Third and Fifth Streets on Allen, Union and Warren and that either above Fifth or below Third. Within these sections, Allen, Union and Warren vary according to the distance from the court house core and the proximity to other determining features such as the commercial district, industrial zones, or the waterfront settlement area.
Stylistically, the residential architecture in the district parallels the development of the commercial, as previously introduced. As in the commercial section of the district, there was substantial growth in all the residential areas of the district during the Greek Revival period. Major houses such as the Curtis House at 32 Warren Street and the temple form at 51 Partition Street, both located west of Third Street; the massive rectangular and L-shaped plan houses at 325, 354 and 357 Allen Street, between Third and Fifth; and 620 Union Street east of Fifth Street were accompanied by a plethora of smaller residences both separated and attached. The freestanding houses include examples in modest temple forms, such as that located at 358 Union, but are more commonly two and one-half story, three- and five-bay buildings in brick or frame with frieze windows and gable roofs parallel to the street. The attached homes are represented by buildings located at 602-610 Columbia Street (c1835), "Wilson's Row" (c1830) at 15-21 South Sixth Street and 8-12 Fourth Street (c1845).
During the Picturesque period rowhouses often reflected the Italianate taste such as those located at 1-5 East Court Street (c1860), which gained a story in height, an embellished cornice and additional decoration of the window enframement. Many of the houses scattered along Warren Street share these characteristics as in 552 Warren Street (c1860), 10-12 Warren Street (c1850), and 356 Warren Street. Freestanding, large-scale residences in the Italianate and Gothic taste were built in the court house area of Union and Allen Streets. Italian Villas located at 331 and 454 Allen Street and 601 Union Street are examples of pattern book designs popular in the period. Gothic cottages are proportionally numerous in the city with intact examples surviving at 335 Allen Street and 450, 611 and 617 Union Street,. In addition, one of Hudson's oldest surviving churches, the Christ Episcopal Church (1854-56), was designed by architect Henry Harrison in the Gothic Revival style. It is located on the court house square.
The Second Empire style is well represented in the primary residential area between Third and Fourth with particularly outstanding examples at 320, 326, 342 and 431 Allen Street, 4 Willard Place, 124 Warren Street and 412 Warren Street (Conelius Evans House, National Register). Smaller examples such as 450-452 E. Allen Street and an attached pair located at 558-560 Columbia Street reflect the dissemination of the Second Empire style into middle-class housing design.
The Queen Anne period saw continuing growth along the residential streets in established patterns of form and style. Rowhouses maintaining the basic narrow house form and two-story scale reflected the new taste in more complex facades involving the use of bays, intersecting roof planes, dormers and varied materials. Unlike earlier periods, most homes were frame construction.
On Warren Street, the predominantly residential area below Second Street contains a series of small attached houses built in this style that are perhaps the most unique of the period. The house at 128 Warren Street (c1890) is more typical of the Queen Anne taste in the city with its hooded side entry, second story oriel and an offset, decorated gable dormer above the cornice line. Its neighbor, 132 Warren Street (c1890) has a similar hooded side entrance offset by a gable dormer with an ornamental window but includes an overhanging second story and fanciful tower. The next house east, 134 Warren Street (c1890) is a brick variant of the type with distinctive patterning of that material.
Above Third Street on Warren, the houses become predominantly larger and more pretentious. The residence at 360 Warren Street is three stories rather than two and prominently detailed in brick and terra cotta. A freestanding example, neighboring the Cornelius Evans House at 416 Warren Street, has a roughly five-bay two-story facade with an irregular elevation, multiple dormers and canted corner tower. As in the previous example, terra cotta is utilized decoratively in the masonry work. A multiple-use building at 445 Warren Street (c1885) utilizes the asymmetry favored in the facade design to create an interesting house-like structure. Perhaps most conspicuous in the streetscape, however, is the four-unit row of houses at 512-518 Warren Street (c1890). Situated between the Corinthian portico of the city hall and the spires of a Romanesque style church, the row, with its second and third story rounded oriels, is a pronounced visual element in the district.
Development on Union Street during the Queen Anne period was consistent with that in earlier periods. A number of small frame rows were introduced into the streetscape west of Third Street maintaining the density but often altering the front wall plane by a siting set further back in the lot. Rows at 29-31, 105-109 and 220-224 Union Street best exemplify this trend. A row at 504-512 Union Street (c1890) is more substantial and architecturally distinguished reflecting the heightened design emphasis within the Fourth Street neighborhood, Small, detached frame houses, following the traditional plan but with ornamental gable treatment and distinctive oriels, vary little on Union Street. Examples below Third at 221 and 226 Union, or in the vicinity of Fourth Street at 428 and 439 Union, embody the same thoughtful but restrained design characteristics.
The prominent Queen Anne style houses are located on West Court Street, East Allen Street and Willard Place. The house located at 39 West Court Street is one of the most substantial turn-of-the-century residences in the city. While fairly square and regular in form, it incorporates a distinctive masonry first level and entranceway topped by a polygonal tower. Only houses on Willard Place, a street opened in this period, rival the scale and pretension of this house.
Aside from 251 Allen Street and the intersection of Willard Place, the streetscape of Allen Street between Third and Fourth reflects little of the taste of the Queen Anne period. Picturesque and Second Empire styles predominated as available space was consumed. Conversely, East Allen Street, which opened between Fourth and Fifth Streets in this period, is characterized by the Queen Anne and later housing styles. Double houses at 446-448 and 450-452 East Allen Street and single family homes at 455 East Allen and wrapping around on Fifth Street at numbers 35, 40, and 42, illustrate the interest in the style.
Schools and other public edifices were erected in this period and contribute to the record of Queen Anne period architecture in the city. Schools located at 361 State Street (at Fourth) and 610 State Street (at Sixth), built in 1893 and 1886, respectively, are notable as well as the Masonic Lodge at 30 Third Street (at Union) built in 1889.
A tenement row near the Harder Mill at Sixth and State Streets (556-562 State Street) is included in the district and is a distinctive representative example of the Queen Anne taste applied to speculative housing.
Twentieth-century buildings are rare in the lower residential sections of the district. The grid was essentially complete and, by this time, the waterfront of the city was highly industrialized and not an area favored for living. With land at a premium within the grid, the city had begun to look eastward for growth areas. The Fourth Street residential area maintained its preeminence, yet did not expand in any appreciable way in the period between 1900 and 1930. Aside from a random scattering of small-scale residences, the district can boast of two distinguished residences: a large Greek styled, Colonial Revival period house at 441 East Allen (c1910) and a large gambrel-roofed Colonial Revival style house at 8 Willard Place.
The survey revealed only one twentieth-century residence on Warren Street, at number 442. Union Street and East Allen contain only a handful of houses from the twentieth century, mostly infill and in a variety forms and styles including one "Foursquare House" (323 Union), two Bungalow types (249 and 330 Union), an Arts and Crafts style residence (414 Union), a two-story, two-family house (516 Union) and a few rowhouse types with Colonial Revival details (such as 247 and 327 Union and 33 Fifth Street). The brick house-like building formerly occupied by the YMCA at 521 Union Street is perhaps the most substantial and architectural building surviving from the period.
Commercial development on Warren Street constituted the bulk of architectural activity in the twentieth century. In addition, at least four churches. St. Mary's Catholic Church (1929) on Allen Street at East Court. Mr. Carmel Catholic Church (1926) at 206 Union Street, a former synagogue now the Shiloh Baptist Church (1909) at 14 Warren Street, and a church (1925) at 450 Warren Street, and one school, at 32 Allen Street (c1910), were built during the twentieth-century period.
One area within the historic district requires more particular description because it does not relate strictly to the progression of development along Warren, Union and Allen Streets but to the industrial and working-class development in the north end of the city. Sixth Street north of Warren and adjoining sections of Columbia and State Streets are included in the boundaries of the district because this axis became a major corridor between Warren Street and the northern industrial area and thus was distinguished with notable architecture. As such it illustrates community patterns and lifestyles in an area of the city with a focal point other than the river, the courthouse or Warren Street.
The original focal point of this area was the Gifford Iron Works, formerly located at the intersection of Columbia, Green and State Streets. This important industry developed dependent industries and businesses which contributed to the growth of the area and is best illustrated by the commercial row on Columbia Street east of Park Place. A railroad line, established in the 1840's, connected the area with inland supplies and river transportation and further solidified the physical and occupational nature of the neighborhood.
A workers' community developed radiating north and west within the grid, eventually stretching the grid between Fifth and Seventh Streets one or two blocks north.
Important buildings were concentrated along Sixth, Columbia and State Streets: St. John's Lutheran Church at 21 N. Sixth Street (1869), a railroad station at 728 State Street (c1865), an orphanage at 620-624 State Street (1846), a public school at 610 State Street (1886) and the Harder Knitting Mill at Sixth and Washington (outside the district but an individual component of the Hudson M.R.A.) Better residences were also located along this axis: a Greek Revival style row at 602-612 Columbia Street, attached Italianate houses wrapping around the southeast corner of Sixth and State Streets (46-48 Sixth Street and 609-611 State Street), a pair of Second Empire houses at 558-560 Columbia Street and a row of Queen Anne style tenements at 556-552 State Street. The district boundaries were drawn to include this significant architectural enclave and exclude less distinctive, altered housing of the same period located west on Columbia and State Streets and north on Sixth Street. A non-contributing industrial complex occupying the area once containing the Gifford Iron Works east of Seventh Street has also been excluded from the district.
The Front Street-Parade Hill-Lower Warren Street Historic District has been included in the larger Hudson Historic District. After the Front Street-Parade Hill-Lower Warren Street Historic District was listed on the National Register, the city of Hudson demolished major portions of it as part of its ongoing urban renewal program. The entire west side of Front Street and a small portion of the east side within the district was demolished except for a fire house located at Front and Warren and the park on Parade Hill. This demolished section, now rebuilt with modern housing, has been excluded from the Hudson Historic District. The firehouse and the park remain as contributing components of the new district. The south side of Warren Street between Front and First Streets was also demolished, except for the contributing building located at One Warren Street. Subsequently, a modern, one-story multi-unit commercial building was built on Warren Street that does not contribute to the significance of the district. However, because of the adjacent historic buildings, the south side of Warren Street has been included in the Hudson Historic District.
The Hudson Historic District is historically and architecturally significant as an intact concentration of historic buildings that embodies the unique characteristics of the formation and development of the City of Hudson from its establishment in 1783 to the conclusion of its rise to economic stature in the 1930's. Founded immediately following the Revolutionary War on a small Hudson River landing by New England investors seeking a safe location from which to conduct ocean trade, the city grew rapidly until, within ten years, it assumed a major position in the commerce of the state. The city was an economic enterprise without rival in New York. Strategically situated at the Hudson River's head of navigation for sea-going vessels and developed by shareholders according to a compact grid plan, Hudson was conceived and governed as a new American city, a democratic, capitalist venture without ties to a history or a tradition. Its fast growth, substantial wealth and spirited ambition contributed to create a city of tremendously expressive architecture. Series of booms and busts in the city's economy resulted in a succession of highly active building campaigns producing architecture of definite periods, conspicuous style and decided distinction. The grid plan controlled expansion and focused growth within acceptable zones. The historic district encompasses the significant portions of the commercial and residential zones of the grid as well as intact surviving areas related to the river trade and industry. Once fully developed, the grid plan directed expansion elsewhere within the city, thus contributing to continued use and preservation of historic portions of the city. A notable aspect of the Hudson Historic District is the extraordinary degree of integrity of its commercial core, Warren Street, which comprises the most intact and architecturally distinguished nineteenth-century commercial street in New York State. The residential section concentrated on Union and Allen Streets contains rare and outstanding examples of Federal and Greek Revival period urban residential architecture as well as a large and eclectic mix of pretentious designs from all the nineteenth-century stylistic periods. The district has the exceptional quality of vividly maintaining the pattern and visual character of life created over 150 years ago.
The specific significance of the city's grid plan, which has been preserved in the Hudson Historic District, as well as the quality and variety of the district's architecture are addressed below:
Hudson may have been the most successful of the multitude of planned cities that appeared in America following the Revolutionary War. Few of these cities developed to match the scale of the plan or the ideals devised for them. Most eventually revised their formative plans to fit new situations: many have been physically compromised by progressive planning and urban renewal programs in this century. Hudson, on the whole, survives with its eighteenth-century plan intact both physically and functionally. Although the Hudson Historic District excludes portions of the city within the grid due to deficiencies in architectural integrity and distinction, the grid plan, it its entirety, is an intact significant feature of the district that made a significant imprint on the landscape and had a profound and lasting influence on the historical growth and development of the city.
While typical communities grew in a radiating pattern from some initial settlement point, the proprietors of Hudson established an overall grid plan for the city first (1783) and then initiated development at a number of points. Therefore, the nineteenth-century growth of the city cannot be characterized in terms of expansion so much as in terms of increasing density. By 1800, Hudson contained 4000 persons and Warren Street was essentially developed from Front to Sixth Streets. The parallel streets were also well established by this point. Hudson continued to build in and build up, and it was not until the twentieth century, when there was no where to go, that the city expanded substantially beyond the grid.
The fact that the initial plan was well conceived and faithfully followed has benefited the visual quality of the city and district. Its survival promotes an understanding of the cultural forces that created it. Identifiable groupings of commercial buildings, public buildings, residences of affluent, middle and working classes, and industrial buildings provide a clear indication of the social, economic and cultural make-up of the community.
Street development established divisions within the community. Warren Street, the central east-west axis, was designated for commercial enterprise, but it also, eventually, served as a common ground separating the upper-class neighborhoods located south of it from the lower-class neighborhoods located north of it. Development on Fourth Street, the central north-south street, solidified the symmetry of the plan and the character of the divided residential communities. The power and prestige embodied in the courthouse, located at the south end of Fourth Street, was symbolic of the nature of the community that built it, as was the harsh reality of the almshouse, which anchored the northern end of the Fourth Street axis.
With residential patterns thus preordained, the grid developed from the initial settlement enclave at the river's edge on South Bay. Predictably, industry extended east through the section of the grid north of Warren Street, primarily along Columbia Street, with workers' housing following on State Street. Upper-class housing appeared on the grid as far east as Seventh Street. Many buildings were sited to enjoy the dramatic views over South Bay to Mount Merino and beyond to the Catskills.
The grid was largely developed by the close of the nineteenth century. The ability to expand into open space east and north of the grid effectively encouraged new development outside the grid for most of the twentieth century. Economic stagnation following the Depression also contributed to inactivity in the urban core. In the 1960's and 1970's the historic environment was disturbed by an urban renewal program that resulted in demolition of deteriorated buildings in the waterfront area. Aside from areas of Front, State, Columbia and lower Warren Street (some of which has been excluded from the district) the character of the grid has remained intact as an outstanding survival of early city planning and a dramatic representation of nineteenth-century governmental and cultural patterns.
Before the New English investors chose this location for the site of their enterprise in 1783, the area was only a small river landing for the ferrying of farm goods. Its sudden appearance as a city gives Hudson a unique stature in the Hudson Valley. An incongruous example of Yankee ingenuity in the context of the valley's otherwise lackadaisical development, the Hudson proprietors' vision was a harbinger of the commercial frenzy to be experienced by river communities in the coming decades. Hudson's presence in Columbia County, one of the Dutch agrarian strongholds in the upper Hudson Valley, presents a decided contrast to the materiel culture and life patterns of other historic New York populations. The boldness of the enterprise and its intimate association with the economic and cultural revolution taking place in the Hudson Valley contributed to the creation of one of New York State's most expressive architectural resources.
Hudson's long and distinguished architectural record has its origins in the New England maritime buildings known to its earliest settlers. The established Dutch architectural tradition of the Hudson Valley appears to have had no influence on the plan or design of the community. Having chosen a relatively undeveloped site to establish their city, the Hudson proprietors were at liberty to conceive their own plan and were left to their own devices for building design. Also, the nature of the sea-venturing enterprise would have been quite foreign to the parochial Dutch farm communities in the vicinity. As evidenced by the architecture that remains from the l780's and 1790's in Hudson, the New Englanders transplanted the building history common in Providence, Nantucket and the south shore of Massachusetts to Hudson. Although none survive, historical accounts indicate that many frame buildings were disassembled in New England and actually moved to Hudson in the 1780's.
These early houses were built of frame or brick and retain the broad eighteenth-century proportions of center-chimney frame New England houses. The two-story frame residence at 116 Union Street is a good example of the house forms introduced into the area by the settlers and the more horizontal qualities that distinguish them from Federal style houses, which appear a short time later. The house at 126 Union Street is an example of brick construction of the early period and the wide spacing of fenestration. This example also has a gambrel roof, a feature that survives on only two other eighteenth-century houses in the city and that was a popular roof form in New England. As the gambrel shape has become emblematic of Dutch architecture in America, it is important to note its appearance in this context. Since no conclusive study has been made to distinguish variations between the two ethnic applications, the otherwise New English nature of this group of gambrel roofed houses in Hudson would suggest that they were based on New English prototypes. Another feature in Hudson's history that warrants further study is the role that the Quaker taste played in the early architecture and planning of the city.
The exact number of settlement period houses has not been discerned due to their similarities to the many Federal period houses which appeared soon afterward and the extent of disguising alterations, particularly to Warren Street commercial properties. Nevertheless, those that do survive comprise a significant collection of New England buildings that, due to the unique circumstance of Hudson's origins, happen to be located in the Hudson Valley.
After 1800, the architecture in the district adopted the appearance of the Federal style. Again, the style had a decided New England character, yet with the enormous influx of Yankees into the region, the elegance and urbanity of the taste was no longer rare in the Hudson vicinity. The community's links with New England both directly, by trade and family affiliation, and indirectly maintained the influence of the maritime region on style. Many large two-story, five-bay brick houses with central entrances were built on lower Front, Union and Warren Streets during this period and reflect the overall development of the Federal style from the bulky, traditional forms with restrained delicate ornament to the tall, elongated forms with exaggerated verticality and attenuated details such as the Jenkins' houses at 113 and 115 Warren Street or the former Bank of Hudson at 116 Warren Street. In addition to this house form are a few surviving Federal period rowhouses on Union and Warren Streets and smaller single family residences with side entrances and gable ends oriented to the street. Commercial buildings survive, generally in altered form but suggestive of the style and brick construction methods of the period. This grouping, scattered throughout the western section of the grid plan and along the entire length of the Warren Street, also illustrates the growth patterns in the city. The elegance and pretension of these early nineteenth century houses reflect the prosperity and the status this city assumed in only twenty years of existence.
In the 1830's, following a depression which occurred when the ocean trade collapsed during the War of 1812 period, Hudson found new prosperity in the burgeoning Hudson River economy and in a whaling venture. Hudson built and renovated extensively in the Greek Revival taste. It is the visual image created by the bold proportions, the broad moldings, the Greek columns and ornamentation and the frieze level windows that has since characterized Hudson's architecture end perpetuated its New England maritime image. Certain exceptional house styles exist, such as the highly ornamented Curtis House at 32 Warren Street, the prototypical temple forms located at 51 Partition and 738 Warren Street and the enormous starkly rectilinear houses at 28 Union and 354 Allen Street, but the district and the city as a whole contains innumerable representative examples of houses and stores built in the Greek Revival taste.
It was during this period that the region emerged as a busy transportation corridor linking the Erie Canal with New York City; railroad routes were established in this period and the iron and textile industry blossomed. Hudson experienced its greatest growth and prosperity at this time and evolved from an economic venture to a full-fledged city in the regional economic network. The city also began to be absorbed into the regional culture and subsequent architectural development in the city reflects more of a Hudson Valley taste than a New England one.
A number of Gothic cottages and Italianate villas were erected in the district with a corresponding number of Picturesque styled country seats built at the city limits beyond the district boundaries. Also, during the years prior to the Civil War the character of many of the Federal and Greek Revival period commercial buildings on Warren Street were altered by raising their heights and/or adding ornamental bracketed cornices and window details. Many of the small houses filling in voids in the plan on Warren and Union Street are simple and urban, consistent with earlier patterns, but with florid embellishments, scroll-sawn or carved, applied to roof lines, porch friezes and window hoods. The addition of broad front porches, the staggering of facade bays and the removal of gables are distinctive alterations related to the picturesque movement and the regional taste. The informality of the new taste softened the hard edge of the Greek Revival both here and on Warren Street.
This trend continued through the Post-Civil War revival styles: few new buildings and increasing ornamentation. Economically, the city was still riding the crest of prosperity as the regional transportation, iron and textile industries maintained their strength. As a county seat, the city population was swelled by governmental, legal and other professionals, many of whom lived in the residential areas of the district.