For the last four-years, the Hudson Heritage Association (HHA) has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to save the 1927 Hudson High School Building, located on Oviatt Street at the eastern edge of Hudson’s Historic District.

Beginning in late-fall of 2016, the Hudson Board of Education’s approval of a Master Facilities Plan for the Hudson City School District and the proposed demolition of the 1927 Hudson High School Building prompted HHA to become actively involved to save the historic school and streetscape along Oviatt Street.

As a result of early advocacy and public outcry to save the building, the “1927 Building Study Committee” was formed by the HCSD in February 2018. Its sole purpose was to bring together Hudson City Schools administrators, City of Hudson leaders, and leading community organizations (including HHA) to determine the path forward. In collaboration with Hudson City School District (HCSD) administrators the group helped brainstorm options for the preservation and adaptive reuse of this significant building–recognizing the important role it has played in Hudson’s history and the community. The work of this committee culminated in the HCSD’s issuance of a request for proposal (RFP) to developers on January 9, 2020.

On March 20, 2020, on behalf of Hudson community organizations, institutions, and the community at large, the Hudson Heritage Association submitted a comprehensive 25-page proposal to the HCSD for the adaptive reuse of the historic 1927 Hudson High School building, as a community cultural arts center. Hudson Heritage Association still believes this is an option that could succeed with broad community and governmental support and are ready to pursue this option if needed.

As HHA’s past-president, Don Husat, expressively once stated:

“We think it’s critical that Hudson take a very thoughtful approach as it considers the future of Hudson Middle School. The decisions affecting this building will be permanent and will have significant ramifications for our historic neighborhood. This is the last building standing with any link to the legacy of Hudson’s school district. Thousands of current and past Hudson residents have passed through its doors. Its grand façade and solid structure testify to our community’s commitment to educational excellence.”

Looking back in the years following the 1927 Hudson High School’s dedication, the building was a source of pride and a center of our community, serving as a symbol of unification. The building was constructed to be both inspiring and solid. Its original wide-ranging amenities – gymnasium, large auditorium, spacious hallways, airy classrooms, and high ceilings – welcomed the students and the community that surrounded it.

The school was built to last and was the focal point of our community. Because of this, the building features a level of detail, craftsmanship and materials we rarely see today. And for many who passed through its doors, the building is engraved in Hudson’s collective consciousness.

Now, over 90 years later, the idea of preserving the building, restoring it to its former grandeur and renovating it for the 21st century is an extremely exciting and viable proposition!

Housing Proposal
Most recently in August 2020, the HCSD was approached by Liberty Development Company, who expressed interest in repurposing the 1927 Building. Their proposal is to develop a range of “For Sale” condominiums inside the existing building (18-23 units), add eight (8) separate “Carriage House” type townhouses on the east side of the property, and two (2) new single-family homes in front of the original main west entrance facing Oviatt Street.

Liberty Development presented its conceptual plans to HHA board members at a special meeting in late October. This past Monday, November 16, Liberty also presented to the HCSD Board of Education. A resolution was unanimously passed to support a “letter of intent” allowing Liberty to proceed with a study to determine the viability of their conceptual plan. This is not a binding contract, but indicates that the HCSD would like to move forward to have Liberty further develop their proposal.

HHA Support & Goals
HHA board members strongly support the adaptive reuse of the 1927 High School to prevent it from demolition. However, the board believes that any development plan should respect the historic architectural elements of the original design as well as the historic oak allée and streetscape on the west side of the building. The HHA Board of Directors voted to support the development initiative with the following conditions:

1. Development plans should maintain the aesthetic of the historic streetscape (Oak allée, lawn) without additional construction of two (2) new single-family houses on Oviatt Street. Preserving the streetscape along Oviatt Street, the four (4) large mature 93-year old Oak trees, the large open space/lawn, and “view corridor” of the historic building, will be important.

2. Development plans should preserve the historic exterior of the school building, including massing, architectural features, details, fenestration (windows and doors), restoration of the east façade, and the preservation of the south “curved” wall of the auditorium.

3. The developer should commit to pursuing a preservation easement of the site and building that will ensure that goals #1 and #2 are preserved for generations to come. A historic preservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement, typically in the form of a deed, which permanently protects a significant historic property. Since it is a perpetual easement, an owner is assured that the property’s historic character will be preserved.

Main façade of 1927 School Building flanked by oak allée (view looking east from Oviatt Street).

 

View looking west to Oviatt Street from front façade of 1927 School Building. Proposed housing in front of the main entry would compromise original sight lines to the street and would require removal of four mature oak trees.

 

Community Meetings & Input Planned
The HCSD sent out an invitation letter on 11/16, from Superintendent Phil Herman, to approximately 174 neighborhood residents surrounding the 1927 Building, inviting them to join an on-line webinar to hear Liberty Development Company present an overview of the proposal for the adaptive reuse of the historic building and property.

Additional meetings for the community, beyond the adjacent residents and neighborhood, are being planned. We will keep you informed of any further developments. In the meantime, if you have any questions, concerns or recommendations and would like to email Hudson Heritage Association, please send comments to info@hudsonheritage.org

Additional Links / Information:
The HCSD Board of Education presentation video can be seen below, or at the following link (click on Agenda item #5, and go to the 38:00-minute mark): https://hudson.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=3117

Additionally, you can read the Hudson Hub-Times article, “Housing Proposed for former Hudson Middle School”, dated 11/22, at the following link: https://www.mytownneo.com/story/news/2020/11/21/former-hudson-middle-school-could-repurposed-housing-development/6326071002/