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Demolition begins on former city Orphan Asylum

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    Demolition began Thursday on the former Hudson Orphan and Relief Association at 620 State St. The building is owned by the Galvan Foundation.
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    Workers begin preparing the former Hudson Orphan and Relief Association building for demolition this week.
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    Melanie Lekocevic/Columbia-Greene Media The front door of the former Hudson Orphan and Relief Association that is being demolished, with a warning posted that the structure has been condemned.
March 7, 2019 04:21 pm

HUDSON — Demolition of the long-vacant and boarded-up former Hudson Orphan and Relief Association on State Street began Thursday.

Traffic was stopped near the two-and-a-half-story red brick Greek Revival structure at 620 State St. as crews set up concrete barricades and metal fencing around the building’s perimeter through most of the morning.

“We are saddened to announce the need to deconstruct our building at 620 State Street in Hudson because of public safety concerns,” Dan Kent, vice president of initiatives at the Galvan Foundation, said in a statement Thursday.

Demolition is expected to take three weeks and there is no timetable for the start of construction on the new building, Kent said.

The State Street property is located opposite the vacant 147-year-old Hudson Upper Railroad Depot on the east side of the street.

“I have had several conversations with City Code Enforcement Officer Craig Haigh regarding this historic building,” Mayor Rick Rector said. “It is very unfortunate that it has become a safety issue requiring demolition.”

The building was constructed in 1847 and served as the city’s orphan asylum, known as the Hudson Orphan Relief Association, until 1881, when that function was moved to what is the former Hudson Area Library at 400 State St. The building served at different times as a residence and retail establishment for many years thereafter.

It is unclear how long the building has been vacant. The old Orphan’s Asylum at 620 State St., was first deemed an unsafe building in 1976 by then-Code Enforcement Officer John Ravene, who found several structural flaws, according to Register-Star archives.

Galvan developed plans and identified financing to rehabilitate the building and incorporate the mostly wooden garage behind it as part of a housing initiative known as Galvan Quarters in 2012. The plan called for transitional and supportive housing for homeless adults and called for more than 30 units. But, as a result of local opposition, Galvan did not move forward with the plans.

On Jan. 8, 2014, the foundation announced it would convert the former asylum into 10 studio apartments, and expanding the neighboring former garage for educational and community use, according to Register-Star archives. But, after a few more iterations, the plan was abandoned.

Five years later, the building was deemed too structurally damaged to rehabilitate.

Kent called the decision to demolish the building difficult. The decision was reached after several extensive reviews from engineers who confirmed the building could not be saved.

“The engineers concluded that the building is unable to be rehabilitated without posing extensive risks to construction workers and the general public,” Kent said. “Unfortunately, the structural issues are beyond repair despite our significant investments in stabilizing the building.

But while the building cannot be repaired, its bricks and other materials will be reused in the construction of a new building, Kent said.

“We are committed to constructing a new building paying homage to the old building in the same location, using the bricks and materials recovered from the original,” Kent said. “This project honors the legacy of this important historic orphanage building while ensuring public safety.”

The 2,720-square-foot building was last assessed at $57,000 in 2018.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.