GAR Conditions Assessment

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					Grand Army of the Republic
Hudson City Cemetery



Existing conditions assessment with recommendations for historically appropriate
treatments for the stone masonry and wrought iron fencing elements of the site
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                               Grand Army of the Republic
                                       Hudson City Cemetery
                           Conditions assessment and recommendations

Introduction

Overview
The purpose of this document is to make historically appropriate recommendations for the
preservation of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) section of the Hudson City Cemetery.
The genesis of this initiative was a meeting on May 17, 2013, with Vincent Wallace, caretaker
of the GAR section, Robert Perry, Superintendent of the Hudson DPW, Alderman David
Marston, local preservation activist Carole Osterink, and Ward Hamilton of Olde Mohawk
Historic Preservation. As the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Battle of Port Hudson
approached, a need to address structural deficiencies in the GAR section was recognized. This
conditions assessment will assist involved parties in properly planning for the preservation and
rehabilitation of the stone masonry elements and wrought iron fencing of the GAR section.

Historical Context
On June 10th, 1863, at a special meeting of the City Council in Hudson, the Mayor and
Aldermen took up the matter of setting aside a lot for soldiers and officers killed in the
ongoing conflict, as requested by the late Colonel Cowles of the 128 th Regiment. The recent
death of Col. Cowles, some thirteen days earlier, may have created a sense of urgency among
the leadership in Hudson who, no doubt, knew Col. Cowles on a personal level. 1

David Smith Cowles was born in Canaan, Connecticut, in 1817. The son of a Congregationalist
preacher and educated at Yale, he entered the practice of law and eventually established his
own practice. Cowles served as the district attorney of Columbia County for three terms and,
when war erupted in 1861, he felt compelled to volunteer and served as a Colonel in the 128th
Regiment. On May 27, 1863, at the Battle of Port Hudson, he was killed after leading his
troops against a rebel surge, preventing the lines from being overrun.

“Colonel Cowles, with a loud, clear voice heard above the roar and whine of bullets, took
command of the men of the 128th. He urged many of them on by their names and others by
their villages and towns—‘Come on Kinderhook! Let’s go Hillsdale! Forward Spencertown!’ The
128th moved forward, reeled back and then moved forward again. After nearly an hour they
reached the summit of the earthworks at Port Hudson and engaged in a brutal struggle that
turned to fighting with bare fists after their powder was depleted. Still conspicuously ahead of
the lead elements, Colonel Cowles suddenly staggered backward, spun and fell to the ground
when he was pierced by a piece of shrapnel shell. Asked by Captain Keese if he wanted to go
to the rear, Cowles responded, ‘No! Go forward and take care of the regiment.’ Held in the
arms of Sergeant Charles M. Bell and Allen Sheldon, Cowles died in half an hour. Suffering
intensely and conscious to the end, his last words were an appeal to his faithful men: ‘Boys!
Have I not done my duty? Tell my mother I died with my face to the enemy.’”2

1
    City of Hudson, Common Council Resolutions, 1863
2
    Fenoff, Patricia. “Hudson’s 128th Regiment, ‘Old Steady,’ Fought for One Nation”
On December 17th, 1867, Alderman Ham brought to the City Council’s attention the interest of
Col. Cowles’ relatives in bringing the deceased remains to a place in the center of the soldier’s
lot of the cemetery and the intent to erect a monument above them. The Burying Ground
Committee was empowered to take whatever means were necessary to do so. 3 A single shaft
of granite, weighing 11 tons and costing $15,000, was erected. “It is simple and substantial
and will stand to mark the grave of a noble gentleman and Christian soldier for generations.” 4
Some years later, the cannons and chain that surround the site were gifted by the Hon.
Joseph B. Carr, Maj. Gen. of the 3rd Division of the N.Y.N.G., Secretary of State, and President
of the American Chain Works in Troy.5

Description
The walls are composed of native limestone, reportedly quarried locally, and laid in a coursed
running bond pattern. The stones that comprise the field of the walls are uniform in size and
dressed with point-ruled margins. In limited locations, evidence of raise bead mortar joints is
still visible. The majority appear to have been repointed at least once, the joints struck flush,
with a very hard mortar containing portland cement. The original bedding mortar, where
examined, is also hard, but appears to be consistent with natural cements (i.e., Rosendale)
commonly used in the Hudson River Valley throughout the nineteenth century. The limestone
of the piers is set in ashlar bond. While the lack of drainage has caused the middle section of
the wall to bow out, the condition of the limestone is very good. The walls are crested with a
wrought iron fencing that is presently well-kept and painted after what appears to be a long-
ago period of deterioration. Cannons are set on dry-laid slabs of bluestone.

Conditions Assessment

Evaluation
During conditions assessments, the various systems of a site or structure are examined for
present condition and performance. Each is evaluated in context relative to its importance as
a component of the envelope, or as it contributes to a structure’s integrity, assessed based on
known, acceptable standards, and described according to subjective terminology. Loosely
defined, these terms are:

         Excellent         the brief moment that a system is brand new or completely restored;
                           this condition descriptor is symbolic only
         Very good         the next moment, after the new or restored system is completed;
                           regular inspections will suffice until maintenance is required
         Good              a system that is functioning properly and routine maintenance is
                           needed; painting and repointing are maintenance tasks
         Fair              a system that is functioning adequately but work is needed, beyond
                           routine maintenance, to improve system performance
         Poor              a system that is not functioning adequately; significant work will be
                           needed to restore the system to an acceptable condition
         Very Poor         a system that is not functioning or absent; wholesale replacement of
                           some or all of the components of the system are necessary

Using the above-described criteria for evaluating condition, the various tasks necessary to
bring all systems to a ‘good’ or better condition are described in detail. All practices and
methodologies recommended are in strict compliance with guidelines set forth by the
Secretary of the Interior.6 The proper approach to preservation work is one of minimalism;
walls should not be repointed in their entirety because 20% of the joints have failed.

Repointing of Stone Walls, Steps and Piers
Empty or failing mortar joints should be repointed as needed. The mortar could be tested for
composition and an appropriate recipe specified for repointing according to ASTM C-1324-03

3
  City of Hudson, Common Council Resolutions, 1867
4
  Hudson Gazette, January 14, 1869
5
  Hudson Gazette, August 30, 1883, and September 6, 1883
6
  Weeks, Kay D., and Grimmer, Anne E. The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of
Historic Properties with Illustrated Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring, and Reconstructing
Historic Buildings, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1995
Standard Test Method for Examination & Analysis of Hardened Masonry Mortar by a qualified
materials conservator. The material must also be sympathetic in texture, color, strength and
appearance to that in adjoining areas.

If natural cements are not going to be used as the binder for the repointing mortar, the
recommendation is for an ASTM type “O” mix. The mason will mix one part portland cement
with two parts lime and nine parts sand. The compressive strength needs of the application at
hand do not warrant a mix, such as type “N,” with more portland cement.

Prior to wholesale use of the new replacement mortar, a mock-up sample should be installed
by a qualified craftsperson who understands the curing and application details of restoration
masonry work. Once the mock-up sample is installed, appropriate precautions should be taken
to ensure that the mortar is protected from wind, sun, rain and frost to enable slow curing to
take place. The sample should be allowed to cure in the wall for a minimum of seven but
preferably fourteen days before final color match is approved.

The failing and deteriorated mortar joints should be cleared by skilled masons with hand
tools—not grinders and powered chisels. Joints should be cleared to a depth of roughly twice
the height or width of the opening (i.e., a 3/8” joint should be ¾” deep before repointing takes
place.) The mortar should be tooled into the joints in ¼” lifts and allowed to set up until
pressing with force is required to leave a fingerprint.

Joints should be struck flat, revealing slightly the edge of the facing stone. Any mortar or
residue left behind should be cleaned with a brush or sponge and clean, warm water. The new
work should be protected from direct sunlight as it cures. Dampened burlap works well to
shade the surfaces, and should be wetted regularly to prevent drying out.

Rebuilding of Bowed Wall and Installation of Drainage
The fencing, stone caps and wall stone should be carefully removed and set aside for reuse.
Only that which is necessary to bring the wall back to plumb (or range with adjoining sides)
should be removed. The stone should be re-laid in an ASTM type “O” mortar, as described in
the section above. The new drain tile should be installed so as to channel water away from
the wall or to drywells below the footings. The new drainage plan should not include any
element, detail or feature which affects or alters the appearance of the stone wall.

Wrought Iron Wall Cresting
The fencing should be removed and reset in the cap stones, as needed. The mounts should be
sealed flush in the stone with lead or, at a minimum, a commercial-grade mastic sealant.
Fencing will be primed and painted black with an appropriate paint and rust inhibitor. The
fencing can be mechanically reconnected to the cavities in the limestone pier caps in a similar
manner, but sealed with mortar. This is not recommended, however, unless this design
element will be closely monitored and maintained. A failure to do so could cause serious
damage to the caps if the wrought iron rusts and expands, possibly causing the caps to spall.

Canon Base
One bluestone base, approximately 6’ x 6’ x 3” has failed. The slab should be replaced with a
new dry-laid, bluestone slab. The slab should receive a thermal finish on top and on the four
sides. At 167 lbs/cu’ the slab will weigh about 1500 pounds and cost approximately $800 if
purchased from the Heldeberg Bluestone Company in East Berne. This work can likely be
accomplished with equipment possessed by the City that is used to move cast concrete
sarcophagi within the cemetery.


Preservation Planning

Maintenance
The most important preservation treatment for extending the life of an historic property is
maintenance. It will slow the natural process of deterioration and prolong the natural service
lives of the historic fabric of the structure or building envelope. Indeed, obtaining certain grant
money is contingent on the owner establishing a long-term maintenance fund. When
considered in the long term, the cost to maintain historic structures is significantly less than
the restoration of historic systems and materials, and it creates far less disruption. When
creating a maintenance program for a historic building and sites, it is strongly recommended
that the counsel of a preservation consultant, and/or experienced contractor is sought. The
maintenance program should clearly identify and describe courses of action that are specific to
the building, structure or historic site:

        • Lists and schedules for periodic inspections of each system. These should be set-up
        in a ‘checklist’ format, to ensure uniformity of procedures over time;
        • Blank elevations of the building to be marked up during inspections and after any
        work takes place;
        • A full set of actual photographs that comprehensively document the conditions of the
        entire structure as well as a digital copy of each. This album will grow over time;
        • An emergency list of contractors who can be called upon in an emergency, especially
        HVAC, electrician, plumber, and other tradesmen;
        • Individualized procedures for the historically appropriate handling of the individual
        systems and materials of the building; and,
        • Hard copies of completed reports that document all work and inspections. Include
        copies of estimates, contracts, warranty cards, paint colors, mortar recipes, materials
        sources, and any other information that will be needed by future stewards.

The most important component of any plan to preserve a historic structure or site is
maintenance. As soon as a system is constructed or rehabilitated, the natural process of
deterioration begins. Preservation has been defined as "the act or process of applying
measures necessary to sustain the existing form, integrity, and materials of an historic
property. Work, including preliminary measures to protect and stabilize the property, generally
focuses upon the on-going maintenance and repair of historic materials and features rather
than extensive replacement and new construction."7

Sources of Funding
The cemetery is owned by the City of Hudson and, as such, largely ineligible for most privately
funded grant sources. However, a new non-profit preservation advocacy group, or an existing
entity like Historic Hudson, could spearhead an initiative to obtain such funding independent of
the City. This doesn’t require that the City give up control over the site; the model suggested
creates a partnership. A sample of funding sources, beyond the State of New York, follows:

NEA Our Town Grants … Of particular interest for historic preservation projects, the National
Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has a program called “Our Town Grants,” which “support
creative place making projects that contribute toward the livability of communities and help
transform them into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core”. Find
information about this program online at: http://arts.gov/grants/apply/OurTown/index.html

National Trust for Historic Preservation … The National Trust for Historic Preservation has
several grant programs, which offer two types of assistance to nonprofit organizations and
public agencies: 1) matching grants from $500 to $5,000 for preservation planning and
educational efforts, and 2) intervention funds for preservation emergencies. Matching grant
funds may be used to obtain professional expertise in areas such as architecture, archeology,
engineering, preservation planning, land-use planning, fund raising, organizational
development and law as well as to provide preservation education activities to educate the
public.

1772 Foundation … Successful grant applications in the past have demonstrated positive
community impact, multiple partners, a solid financial and management structure, creative
programming, modern relevancy, and a willingness to support a network of historic sites in the
geographic and/or thematic area. The Foundation selects several different thematic and
geographic areas to fund each year; these themes and areas keep changing, so check this site
periodically for updates.




7
   National Park Service, Nationwide Programmatic Agreement Toolkit for Section 106 of the National
Historic Preservation Act, glossary of terms
American Express Historic Preservation and Conservation Grants … Supported projects
embrace the preservation, restoration or sustainability of historic places and demonstrate their
significance to the community through one or more of the following:
• Restoring historic places to ensure ongoing public access and interaction with the sites.
• Preserving historic places for future or innovative use.
• Sustaining historic places by creating systems to manage increased visitor activities and
environmental impacts.

Felicia Fund … Funds projects primarily on the northeastern seaboard of the US which relate to
architecture, art, decorative arts, historic preservation, conservation, and related educational
pursuits. Initial requests for funding should be submitted with a concise statement of the
proposed project and an estimate of the amount of funds to be requested. Ordinarily, Felicia
Fund, Inc. will not make grants in excess of $10,000. They not fund operating expenses.

Maxwell House Drops of Good Program … Maxwell House partners with Rebuilding Together to
provide grants from $1,000 to $50,000 for community center projects. Supporters can vote for
projects online and nominate projects via Facebook.

National Grid Foundation … The National Grid Foundation endeavors to improve the quality of
life within its grant making area (focusing on the New York Metropolitan area, upstate New
York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island) National Grid’s Corporate
Citizenship, National Grid Foundation, and Schools and Education programs all have potential
for funding historic preservation projects. National Grid also has a housing and business rehab
program called “Cinderella/Green Cinderella.”

Orton Family Foundation … They are committed to helping towns steer and embrace growth
and change while enhancing the cultural, social, environmental and economic qualities that are
the essence of what makes a place a valued home to its citizens. The Foundation promotes
inclusive, proactive decision-making and land use planning by offering guidance, tools,
research, capital and other support to citizens and leaders. To achieve its Mission, the Orton
Family Foundation partners with communities and organizations across the country to learn
about and explore new models for citizen engagement, community visioning, implementation
and stewardship.

Cathay Bank Foundation … The Cathay Bank Foundation serves the community needs in seven
states, California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Texas and Washington. The
Foundation's ultimate objective is to create opportunities in the areas of affordable housing,
community and economic development, and education. The Foundation will also consider
supporting cultural and arts, health and welfare, environmental and human services and
programs that benefit the communities at large.

Harriet Ford Dickenson Foundation … The Harriet Ford Dickenson Foundation makes grants for
conservation and other purposes, primarily in New York and New England. Groups seeking
funding should send a letter request at any time stating the amount of funding sought and the
purposes for which it will be used. Send the letter to: Mr. James Largey, V.P., Harriet Ford
Dickenson Foundation, c/o J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., 270 Park Ave., New York, NY 10006.
Telephone: (212) 464-1937.

Easter Foundation … The EASTER Foundation was created in the spring of 2006 by Fred and
Anne Osborn of Garrison NY, with proceeds from the purchase by Colgate Palmolive of Tom's
of Maine. The Osborn children decided to use the letters of the word EASTER to clarify the
areas of focus for the foundation: Education, Arts, Sustainability, Technology, Environment
and Rights. There is no formal application form or deadlines, but organizations seeking funding
should write the Easter Foundation c/o Fred Osborn III, P O Box 347, Garrison, NY 10524-
0347; no telephone calls please. http://easterfoundation.org/
Undated photo of the GAR Section courtesy of Historic Hudson
Col. David Smith Cowles. Photo source: Hudson Area Library Association
The 23rd Separate Company “Cowles Guards” of the N.Y.N.G. Photo source: Hudson Area Library Association (Unknown author,
“Souvenir Edition Dedicated to the 23rd Separate Company: Cowles Guards,” Hudson Register. June 1898: 1-8)
Photo from postcard held by the Hudson Area Library Association.
“D. S. Cowles Grave and GAR Plot. Postcard showing the David S. Cowles Memorial Grave marker and GAR plot which includes several
members of the 128th Regiment. Postcard was mailed from Schenectady NY in November 1921.” Source: http://www.dean-
thomas.info/128th_Photo_Gallery/viewphoto.aspx?photoID=114

				
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