Hudson, New York: Harry!!! Is that Bette Midlah Antique-ing????

New York Times: November 1, 2002 By KATHRYN MATTHEWS

HUDSON is a diamond in the rough that’s midway through polishing. You can find a lovely old house for well under $75,000, but the neighbors will expect you to plunge into a restoration that’s likely to cost you more. The major commercial street has some of the best antiques shopping in the Northeast, but you’ll have to drive out of town to get to the supermarket, and while some of the neighbors concentrate on new parks and paths, others are supporting an 1,800-acre cement plant proposed for the next town over.

Hudson, an old port town on the Hudson River, has fewer than 8,000 people, but it is the only city in Columbia County, as well as the county seat. Two decades ago, with many shipping and industrial jobs lost, its fine old houses in a variety of styles — Federal, Greek Revival, Victorian, Italianate, Queen Anne — were in disrepair, and downtown stores were boarded up. But then outsiders discovered Hudson’s architecture and low prices and began moving in, setting up artists’ studios and starting small businesses, including dozens of antiques shops, and fixing up the houses.

“The idea of owning one of these old houses and restoring it to its former glory is tremendously appealing,” said Carole Osterink, president of Historic Hudson, a nonprofit preservation group. The renovation goes on: scaffolding, ladders and work crews are as much a part of the local landscape as a Hudson River sunset.

On weekends antiques hunters converge on Warren Street, which now has more than 70 antiques shops as well as art galleries and restaurants. Celebrities, accompanied by their interior decorators, are sometimes in the crowds: Whoopi Goldberg, Meg Ryan, Richard Gere and Bette Midler have all been spotted, according to Tim Dunleavy, owner of Rural Residence, a home-furnishings store on Warren Street.

Many longtime residents remain in Hudson, and there is a rich ethnic mix. Most of the newcomers who are transforming the downtown live in Hudson year round, sometimes telecommuting with the help of Mid-Hudson Cable, a high-speed cable service. But the second-home market is growing.

The Scene

Hudson is bounded on three sides by Greenport and on the fourth by the Hudson River. Entering from the south, Route 9G passes rolling hills, woodlands and marshes, and the Hudson Correctional Facility. On the east side of town is Kaz, a maker of vaporizers and humidifiers and a prominent Hudson employer. Across the city line, in Greenport, is a sprawl of car dealerships, gas stations and fast-food outlets.

Hudson proper was founded by settlers who arrived from Nantucket in 1784 and laid out the city grid: numbered streets — First through Seventh — run north to south and are bisected east to west by Allen, Union, Warren, Columbia and State Streets. In its early days the city was a bawdy whaling town (despite being on the river rather than directly on the ocean). The street signs have tiny whales imprinted on them as a tribute to the past.

At the riverside, the just-opened Hudson Waterfront Park offers an expansive view, and in warm weather, boats and Jet Skis cruise to and from the busy adjacent marina. Nearby, the restored Victorian railroad station, now used by Amtrak, deposits commuters and visitors on Front Street. Plans include the renovation of Promenade Hill, a public walkway overlooking the Hudson.


If you want to own a second home in a place where you can make a difference, Hudson may be your town. A strong sense of civic activism runs through its core. People have an opportunity to get involved here, and many do, whether raising money for the public library or joining a committee to restore a historic building. Weekenders are more than welcome to participate.

Cultural activities are abundant. You can attend plays at the Hudson River Theater; films at Time & Space Limited, a performing arts center; poetry readings at the Hudson Opera House; and classical music performances at the Pleshakov Music Center, a former bank building converted to a concert hall.

Escaping to the country takes just minutes by car. Skiing is nearby, and Saratoga Springs, Tanglewood and the Berkshire foothills are all an hour or less away.

The Hudson Power Boat Association, a private club along the river, has 100 members, mostly local motorboat enthusiasts, but weekenders can also join.

The city has several good restaurants, including the vegetarian-friendly Earth Foods; Red Dot, a funky neighborhood bistro that serves globally accented comfort fare; and Paramount Grill, with a creative menu including cornmeal-crusted pan-fried catfish and Caribbean jerk chicken.


Don’t consider Hudson if you are not willing to invest time and money in restoration. Virtually all houses require some degree of work, and the cost in some cases runs into six figures.

New York Yimes

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