Seven to Save: 2001

City of Hudson | Hudson, Columbia County

Threat: inappropriate industrial development (St. Lawrence Cement Plant)

The City of Hudson lies within the proposed shadow of the proposed St. Lawrence cement plant, designed as one of the largest coal fired cement plants in North America. This massive 1,800-acre facility would include a 1,200-acre open pit mine, a two-mile conveyor belt, and 40 acres of buildings. In addition, a rarely used docking facility on historic South Bay would be revamped for almost constant use as a docking, loading and storage area for finished cement and various materials used in its production, including coal and heavy metal-laden fly ash. The resulting traffic, blasting, noise and air pollution from the cement plant would irreversibly despoil the historic and scenic resources of not only the City of Hudson, but also the surrounding region including the Town of Greenport and the Village of Claverack.

Amongst strong opposition to the plant, a group called the Hudson Valley Preservation Coalition now includes thirteen local, regional and national environmental, community action, business, and historic preservation organizations. The group is participating in the ongoing DEC review process. The Preservation League of New York State and the National Trust for Historic Preservation were recently granted amicus status for the hearings, allowing the state and national preservation organizations to contribute legal expertise to the permit review proceedings. Permit review is expected to last throughout 2002.

Jackson Sanatorium, “Castle on the Hill” | Dansville, Livingston County

Threat: deterioration, possible demolition

Built in 1883 on a hillside, the brick Victorian building, designed by a leading Rochester architectural firm, is visible throughout the town. Its monumental size and prominent location, combined with its important role in the region’s history and economy, make it a beloved local landmark. The health spa and hotel, which operated in this building for nearly 100 years under the ownership of several notable figures, was the area’s major employer and attracted an international clientele.

At the turn of the 20th century, the Jackson Sanatorium was operated as a mineral spring spa with an emphasis on healthy activities and food. The owner, Dr. James Caleb Jackson, is credited with creating the first cold, ready-to-eat breakfast cereal. It is said that a member of the Kellogg family came to Dansville and soon after, a variation of Jackson’s “Granula” appeared at the rival Battle Creek Sanatorium in Michigan.

The property was purchased for $45,000 by Buffalo developer Peter Krog, a Dansville native. Krog has not announced his plans for the historic Castle on the Hill. Its future, and prospects for any funding, still remain uncertain.

Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood | Rochester, Monroe County

Threat: disinvestment, demolition

Although officially the “Madison Square/West Main Street Historic District,” the six-block area located about one mile from downtown Rochester, is better known as the Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood. Here, at 17 Madison Street, the renowned suffrage leader made her home between 1866 and 1906. The neighborhood is centered on what is now Susan B. Anthony Square but was laid out in 1839 as “Mechanic’s Square.” This public green space is surrounded by modest wood frame and brick homes built between c. 1830 and 1926. The north edge is Canal Street, the former route of the Erie Canal. The neighborhood’s southern boundary is a three-block long section of West Main Street, the former Buffalo Road and now NYS Route 33. And at the eastern edge are nine brick and concrete industrial buildings.

This 101- building historic district—always a working class neighborhood—is considered to be Rochester’s most fragile. Despite the presence of the Susan B. Anthony House museum (a National Historic Landmark), the neighborhood is in decline. Previously executed housing rehabilitation and public investment projects are jeopardized by the area’s loss of residents and growing social problems. Innovative financial incentives, most especially a [state neighborhood preservation act], are called for, and could be used as a new investment tool with existing housing and social service programs. The Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood could become a model of preservation without displacement by retaining an identity true to the times and the legacy of its famous former resident.

The High Line | 34th Street to Gansevoort Street Manhattan, New York County

Threat: demolition

The High Line was built in the 1930s as an elevated steel railway structure for freight trains to safely bring goods into congested Manhattan. Until the High Line was constructed, freight trains ran perilously down the middle of Tenth Avenue, or “Death Avenue” as the treacherous stretch of road was dubbed due to the number of fatal accidents caused by the mix of rail traffic, vehicles and pedestrians. As trucking gained popularity, the High Line was abandoned; its last train made a delivery in 1980. Today, the 1.45-mile line stands above Manhattan’s West Side, from 34th Street, along the edge of the Hudson River, through the West Chelsea neighborhood and into the heart of the Gansevoort Market Meat Packing District.

The High Line is a remarkable piece of transportation-related infrastructure; unique to its period of construction and evocative of the transportation and manufacturing history of the West Side. A group called the Friends of the High Line is working to save the historic elevated railway from demolition. As a public open space, the line would add much-needed parkland to Manhattan, and connect three vibrant communities. It could also provide arts-related uses and strengthen the area’s international reputation as a center of the art world. If the High Line is demolished, these possibilities vanish forever.

Oswego Public Library | Oswego, Oswego County

Threat: disinvestment, abandonment

The Oswego Public Library occupies a prominent corner location in the east side of downtown Oswego. Its Romanesque design combined with more Gothic inspired corbels, turrets and crenellated parapets distinguish this building, designed by Syracuse architect Hughs and Rhodes, from other public buildings in the city and region. Famed abolitionist and Congressman Gerritt Smith donated the land and $25,000 for its construction. Completed in 1855, the Oswego Public Library is the oldest surviving library in continuous use in New York State. And it’s in trouble.

Among the issues faced by Oswego’s and other library boards across the state is how to provide services with shrinking budgets and a declining staff size. One solution is a trend toward one-story, open plan buildings that can operate with a small staff while providing room for a growing number of computer terminals. Older, multi-story libraries present challenges when there is a need to meet technological, safety, and accessibility demands. Residents fear that if financial support cannot be identified to maintain and improve the facility, the landmark Oswego Public Library will be abandoned.

The TWA Terminal John F Kennedy Airport | Queens, Queens County

Threat: demolition; inappropriate development

Built 1956-1961 for what was then Idlewild (now JFK) Airport in Queens, the TWA terminal was one of famed designer Eero Saarinen’s last works—he died in 1960. The building’s undulating shape was meant to evoke the excitement of high speed flight. Its curvilinear forms were used inside and out—and even the terminal’s smallest interior details, lounges, chairs, signs, and telephone booths were designed to harmonize with the curving “gull winged” shell so often depicted as an emblem of the modern 1960s. When opened, the TWA Terminal was heralded as a remarkable design achievement, and 40 years later it continues to be cited by the national and international architectural community for its importance in the modern design movement. The terminal building, which is largely intact, is a designated New York City landmark, a designated City interior landmark, and is eligible for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

In 2000, the property owner, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, announced its intention to carry out a project that poses serious threats to the architectural integrity of Saarinen’s modern movement icon. The Port Authority is now seeking the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration to surround the airside of the TWA terminal with an enormous, semi-circular new terminal building; demolish the innovative satellite gates and an unspecified portion of the tubular jetways; and strip the TWA terminal of its airline terminal use. With no immediate plans for a new way to utilize the building, the Port has said it will conduct marketing studies to determine a new use and hopefully redevelop it

Old French Portage Road - New York State Route 394 | Multiple Counties, Western New York

Threat: inappropriately designed road improvement project

The Old French Portage Road is an important part of the history and beauty of the Chautauqua region in Western New York. Originally a Native American trail, by 1615 French explorers had begun to use the route as a link between the Great Lakes and the Ohio River Valley. The nine miles of hilly terrain between Chautauqua Lake and Lake Erie was a critical section in this larger transportation network. Much of the present road between the villages of Mayville and Westfield was built in 1753 by French military engineer Hugh Peon and a work force of 200 men when the French had control of lands between Canada and Louisiana.

Today the historic and scenic qualities of the Old French Portage Route and its continuation along the south shore of Chautauqua Lake are at risk due to state highway projects planned for NYS Route 394, which serves as a connector between I-86 and the New York State Thruway. As one of the main corridors to the Chautauqua region, which is famed for its history and architecture, how NYS Route 394 is treated could have a profound impact on the area’s tourist economy. Residents note that some of the planned highway work does indeed represent an improvement but fear that overbuilding the road, straightening its course, and removing trees will stress an already busy route, reducing the livability of the historic villages and farms along its course.

Seven to SavePLNYS Staff