A typical house in Hudson
I could describe this street to you in detail though you know it already; you have seen it in those films. The white and pink clapboard houses, the squeaky screen doors, the stars and stripes on every cane chaired porch. The crickets chirping the church bells chiming and somewhere there is a baseball game on a radio though you cannot quite pin down from which house the commentary and cheers are coming from.
At the top of the street was the guest house, like all the others it came complete with clapboard frontage decorated with the shiniest of stars and stripes. There was a ladder leaning against the porch, at its summit was a man in ironed new blue jeans and a lamb’s wool sweater. He was clearing leaves out of the guttering. I took this to be the owner and announced. ‘Hi, I think I have a room booked at your Guesthouse?’ Deftly leaning around he chimed ‘Ah yes, I have been expecting you, I’m Paul.’
Paul the landlord nimbly descended the ladder, vigorously rubbed the dry leaves from his palms, and cemented his greeting with a firm handshake; smiling all the while. We exchanged a few words and entered the house. Inside was all shiny wood and steeped with polish. Yes I bet Paul was always rooting out leaves from those gutters. I have a tree growing in mine. A Buddleia so the neighbours tell me.
Paul led the way upstairs with my suitcase chatting as he went about this and that and not much at all as one does to put a stranger at ease ‘What brings you to Hudson?’ he said at one point. ‘To paint, to write’ I replied. This amused Paul. We finally came to the room and it was excellently appointed with an en suite bath room, a gleaming white bath placed at its centre. Delicious.
Although of course I was jealous of Paul’s clear skills with ladders and generally being efficient though somehow never looking busy he was as it turned out excellent company, and it didn’t take long to get a potted history of Hudson, and a good steer on where to go for a bite to eat and places to see and the place to start was Warren Street.
Warren Street This is I would say Hudson’s Main street. A long straight road with shops on either side, in many ways it was exactly as I expected of a small town main street, wide and quiet by European standards with brick and clap board shop frontages punctuated half way down a small church with a precipitous spire. Looking again however there were a few things very much unexpected.
Warren Street in Hudson is full of colour
The frontages of the shops were not the normal white or pink wash with red brick as in the residential areas. They were every colour imaginable and immaculately maintained. It could easily look clumsy and gaudy though it has to be said Warren Street looks delightful and inviting. On closer inspection the shops too have a few surprises as many of them are rather upmarket antique shops, in fact Warren Street cannot be much more than a mile long although it boasts well over 70 antique shops jammed into that small stretch.
I chatted to someone in a bar about how this all came about and after I told him what brought be to Hudson he explained that Hudson right up to the 1950’s was a den of prostitution and gambling until a big state clear out. Then after a 20 year decline a few antique dealers saw the potential in this small town and set up shop and along with that came the art galleries and eateries. Much of this revival was led by the Gay community (Hudson now has a gay pride parade) and more moved in, bought up the shops and houses and renovated them to their current pristine standard, and in the State and National Registers of historic places, Hudson has been called “a finest dictionary of American architecture in New York State.” And I bet it is too.
I decided to sample some of places to eat and have listed two notables.
American Glory BBQ
342 Warren Street Hudson, NY 12534
Meat, Meat and more meat! (with a nod to vegetarians). This is American food at its best. The eatery is in a converted fire station and still has the spacious brick interior to cater for the many diners, art shows and the bands that play each night.
The menu was varied and large featuring local foods as well as cuisine more familiar on the Mexican border and it appeared everything in between.
I couldn’t decide so I asked the girl who ran the place, she being typically local, a mixed strong Nordic stock with the same long straight hair as Mary from Little House on the Prairie. ‘Sure il help ya choose, what brings you to Hudson?’ We finally chose a giant Texas Beef Brisket that had been smoked for 14 hours accompanied by a locally brewed beer. Both were delicious. American Glory BBQ is a must for a hungry traveller and the staff are excellent.
If you would like a painting for yourself, see more of my work here.