AOA's summer tour is headed to Hudson this weekend, so we thought it'd be fun to have Hudson Week on AOA. Each day we'll be featuring posts about things to do, see, and sample in this city on the river.
One of the interesting things about Hudson is the architecture. It's filled with fascinating old spaces in a wide variety of architectural styles.
After the jump, a few interesting Hudson buildings that have found new lives...
359-361 Columbia Street
This fabulous 1800s former cannon factory was renovated by Etsy a couple of years ago. Since we last wrote about Etsy Hudson, the number of employees has risen from 25 to about 70 and the space has changed a bit to accommodate that growth.
Here's what Etsy Hudson looks like today:
405 Columbia Street
Just a few buildings down from Etsy, you'll find Helsinki Hudson. This restaurant and nightclub hosts all kinds of performers, from rock to jazz to Broadway. Owner Marc Schafler is a lifelong Columbia County resident. He purchased the building, which was originally the Travers Sash and Blind Factory, in 2004. It had a few lives in between, one as a garage and taxi stand in which, it's rumored, you could make connections to taxis and... other services (ahem) that were plentiful around Hudson's once active red light district.
"It was a mammoth repurposing," says Schafler, who designed the space. "A small group of local crafters handcrafted ever square inch," he says proudly.
The building is constructed with a lot of repurposed items. Old lampposts, purchased in Springfield, Massachusetts, support the dance floor. The chairs were constructed from parts and pieces leftover from when a local chair factory went out of business. And the terra cotta "CH" came from the old Casey Hotel in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
110 S Front St
If you didn't know what you were looking for, Basilica Hudson would be easy to miss. About a mile from Warren Street, past the Amtrak station, down near the tracks where the freight trains cross, is a building that was originally a forge and foundry for railway wheels. Later it became a glue factory, which was in business through the 1980s. Eventually it was purchased by Patrick Doyle, who tore out the mechanicals for the glue factory.
What was left behind, says current Basilica owner and creative director Melissa Auf der Maur, was "church like and awe inspiring."
Auf der Maur -- a musician, artist and actress -- along with her partner, filmmaker Tony Stone, presented some ideas for arts programming for the building. Doyle offered to sell them the building.
"We were absolutely not looking to buy a 17,000-square-foot factory with no plumbing," says Auf de Maur, "but he made us an offer we couldn't refuse."
And Basilica Hudson was born. They made use of repurposed materials to help renovate the building. "We're so proud of it," Auf de Maur says. "Even the bathrooms, which used to be old shacks, are beautiful."
"The building -- the space -- is the muse of this entire project ... This couldn't be happening in just a random warehouse. There is a reason why it was called The Basilica," says Auf de Maur. "When Patrick revealed and gutted it, an architect friend went to the building and saw it and said 'It's a basilica,' and in a way, it was -- brick and steel with beautiful terra cotta tiles on the ceilings and that alley of windows near the top. It was built in an era where America was employing its own people and it seemed like everything was possible."
Today the Basilica hosts a carefully-curated program of avant garde and up-and-coming music, visual arts presentations, and films. "We're focused on work that wouldn't otherwise be seen," Auf de Maur says. "We're introducing this work to people in Hudson and introducing Hudson to the world."
Basilica has also become popular as a wedding venue, which is helping to fund the arts programming.
"I think it's such a dramatic location," says Auf der Maur. "It's totally breathtaking."
Hudson Opera House
327 Warren St.
On Warren Street, among the shops and restaurants, is the Hudson Opera House. The building was originally constructed in 1855 as City Hall when the town had grown large enough from whaling products and merchants to need a proper place to deal with its politics. According to Joe Herwick, the deputy director of the Hudson Opera House, it was also a place for social gatherings. "You would come here for boxing matches and poultry shows," says Herwick. "There were also professional touring shows."
The stage, says Herwick, was built in 1880.
"Vaudeville type shows would come in, and international performers. An italian mezzo soprano who Verdi had written roles for performed."
Other notable visitors included Teddy Roosevelt and Susan B. Anthony, who gave talks there, and Ralph Waldo Emerson who read his poetry and short stories.
"Before 1880," says Herwick, "what happened here is people would be propped up on a soapbox and they would talk about their travels out west, suffrage, the gold rush, Egypt, China -- and share information with the less well traveled or share information about what was going on other places. So you would pay 25 cents and hear Susan B Anthony.
Later the building had many other lives -- a pharmacy, a police station, a library. It was used for youth basketball and rollerskating. But from the 1960s to the 1990s it was vacant. Since then a group of Hudson citizens started a non profit, which has restored much of the building.
The building is now used for arts shows, readings, performances, and can also be used for weddings. Restorations are underway on the theater and should be complete in the next couple of years. But for now, it looks pretty cool just the way it is.
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