Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hudson, an old whaling town on the Hudson River?

Having heard many diverse comments on the small town of Hudson on the Hudson River, two hours north of New York City by Amtrak, across from Catskill, New York, it was time to experience the place for myself.

I made a reservation at Country Squire B & B on Allen Street near the hub of the town's activities. The amiable inn keeper, Paul Barrett, welcomed me to his Victorian establishment. He explained the lay-out of this small town and I was off for a wonderful adventure.

Lunchtime encouraged me to try Verdigris on Third Street. A bustling tea room with many delicious looking desserts and an array of luncheon quiche and salads tempted me to indulge to the fullest. It was one of the best lunches I can remember. The apple/cranberry crumble was a superb finish to an amusing meal. I say amusing because the local garden club was there in force. Three women independently approached me with obvious ploys: "What is that book you are reading," etc. Yes, I was being hit on, and at my age that is a compliment! (My attire of a Nehru jacket clearly labelled me a visitor open for investigation.

Next on my agenda was a visit to the Opera House. Originally built as a City Hall in the 19th century, it later became a music hall for various entertainments. The top floor is a large space with stage but needing a complete overhaul. What interested me was the diverse use of space on the ground floor. There were art exhibitions, a room for music lessons or rehearsals, administration offices and the potential for diverse arts disciplines.

The greatest surprise for me about Hudson is that it was a thriving whaling town in the mid-18th century through the mid-19th century! Imagine whalers sailing their cargos of slaughtered whales from Nantucket, Cape Cod and Rhode Island down around New York City to the deep harbor of Hudson where the whales were dissected and oils extracted for shipment to the west!

Later a huge cement factory and other industries replaced the whaling business. However, the town sank into lean times. A depressed town along the majestic Hudson River resulted.

In the '80's this industrial town turned itself around with the influx of antique dealers who attracted trade from both Boston and New York, creating an unexpected gaiety and pizzazz. The main street of Warren is replete with interesting shops, purveyors of antiques and other quality goods. Much restoration of Victorian and Federal buildings have been undertaken giving the town a revitalized appearance.

There are excellent restaurants (my favorite being Ca Mea, and a choice of guest houses for the visitors. I mentioned the Victorian pleasant atmosphere of Country Squire earlier; in delightful contrast is the charm of Warren Street B&B with the chatelaine Carolyn Lawrence to make visitors comfy.

Just five miles south of Hudson on Route 9G is Olana State Historic Site. This is the Persian style home created by Hudson River School artist Frederic Edwin Church. The original furnishings and house are on view from April through November. Church and his mentor Thomas Cole immortalized these spectacular views during the 19th century, leaving for posterity magnificent works of art.

This is a highly recommended over-night jaunt from New York City or environs.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! You are a resourceful fellow - the blog looks terrific! And now I must figure out when I can visit Hudson...