Hudson days

18 November 2014
Ben Pentreath

I wonder if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been?

Instagram followers were one stage ahead. Needless to say….

photo 1 photo 1[1] photo 3 photo 4

A couple of short lovely days in New York…. staying with Valentina, for my birthday. A long-planned trip, because (in part) we hadn’t really made it to Italy this year. It was bliss. Being in New York always feels like being home; no-one makes it feel more like home than Val.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say we saw more than our fair share of hangovers. I’d be seriously lying if I didn’t admit to spending a disproportionate amount of time lying on Val’s deep comfortable sofa in the middle of the day watching movies. But that’s the lovely thing about going somewhere so familiar you don’t need to be a tourist. It was all about spending time together.

Well, so far so good. Early on Saturday morning, on a freezing, crystal clear day, we jumped in our rental car and headed upstate to Hudson. I’d never been and had been thinking for ever (okay, perhaps, in fact, since Val’s blog had whetted my appetite, although it’s probably true to say that every single one of Val’s blogs whets your appetite, don’t they?)… that it would be good to go. Nice to get out of the city.

We went via Storm King, where I didn’t know what to expect. We loved it.

P1060680 P1060681 P1060682 P1060685 P1060688 P1060690 P1060692 P1060694

Virginia Overton’s 500 foot long brass tube, which gently undulates across the landscape, was wonderful. With a childlike wonder you discover that you can whisper to each other down the tube and hear every word with complete clarity.P1060695 P1060700 P1060706

I adored Alyson Shotz’s Mirror Fence. Brilliant.P1060715


It was only upon getting closer that you realised why so many couples were sitting either side of the fence. P1060718 P1060732

And then to Hudson. We arrived in a brilliant glow of late afternoon sunshine.P1060735 P1060739 P1060743 P1060745

Everywhere on Warren Street are signs of restoration.P1060746

You guessed it. The gays have saved the town (well, who else was going to?). Twenty or thirty years ago Hudson had hit rock bottom. The slow decline of small towns is something that this blog has touched on from time to time (read here); not much excites me as much as the examples of reversal in the face of almost inexorable odds. I have a hunch that small towns have an incredible future, but it’s brilliant to see a place like Hudson today.P1060747 P1060752

Of course, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t let you know that my favourite thing of all in Hudson was their yellow and green painted hydrants. P1060754 P1060756

And the old signs still around the place:P1060762 P1060764 And station wagons with decals:

(well, other cool cars in general, but more on that tomorrow).  On Saturday afternoon at about 4pm Hudson presented an almost serene view of small-town America on the up.P1060778

This is the beautiful little house we stayed in… incredibly kindly lent to us by a friend of Zoe’s in the office who happened to be in London last weekend. It was stunningly beautiful. And my only sadness is that the recent World of Interiors ‘Black & White’ Issue had somehow failed to find Michael’s house? Mistake!!!P1060779

Well, okay, I’ll admit we spent the evening cooking some delicious duck and…. watching movies. Bliss. That sort of holiday,

The next morning we hit town. First stop was Finch; an incredible store. It’s brilliant. For a minute I was rather jealous of so much space.

How I long to have a wide trestle table to showcase our favourite books here in London!

Good old John Derian makes the final finishing touch.P1060792

I left Finch the proud owner of a dreamy Hudson Bay blanket, a little American present for Charlie. (Which was lucky because I got home to find the house filled with birthday presents, crazy, not just the pairs of socks I’d asked for).

Next stop, Red Chair. Also perfect:P1060799 P1060805

And Rural Residence. Also perfect. How do they manage it all? What’s going on here in Hudson?P1060818

Can we get back to reality?

So, you see what I mean about cool cars:

Slightly cooler cars:P1060820

….And, well, some seriously cool cars:P1060822

Hudson, I loved you. We had such a quiet happy time here. The weekend passed in a dream. Back to New York in a pouring rainstorm on Monday; back to London on Monday night, arriving in a pouring rainstorm this morning.

I don’t think I’ve been so excited to get home in years. I think it’s true: absence really does make the heart grow fonder.  It was wonderful being in New York, but London, it’s good to be home….. good night.


Before I sign off completely, a note that we’re looking for support staff in the shop right now… Christmas elves are needed. Please have a look at the news page here.

And in the new year, we’ll also be recruiting for someone to help on… STUFF… in the architecture and decoration office. More details will follow in a while, but if you think you might just have what it takes, please get in touch….!

18 comments on this post

was at storm king yesterday…

second to last day of season was rather serene: went last year a few weeks earlier when the leaves were full on, and it was as crowded as the high-line…



Thanks for the tour of the sculpture park and views of sundry buildings, cars,and the cute fire hydrant. Just as well you returned to Blighty before the almighty snow dump. Belated best from Nicola.


Ben ~ on your next trip to NY, I hope you make another trip up the Hudson to the beautiful, hidden gem of a town ~ Newburgh. At one point in the 1900’s 13 significant architects lived and worked in this river town ~ From AJ Davis to Calvert Vaux. It has the largest amount of historically significant buildings in NY State next to Manhattan. Although it is where Hudson and Beacon were 10-15 years ago, it is turning the corner and rehabilitating some of its beautiful factories and houses.


Thrilling to see that you were in Hudson! It is a fascinating place and a beautiful drive from my hometown of Boston. It also has some surprising connections to Nantucket island–was settled by a group of rogue islanders as, believe it or not, a whaling port and there are a lot of common threads in the architecture and feel of the town.


Awesome blog, Ben. As an American, I enjoyed seeing a part of my country that I have not visited.
Thanks so much.

Happy belated birthday Ben! Looks like you had a swell time.

I’m not sure what to make of some of those structures out in that beautiful landscape. Most look a little jarring to my eyes. I do like the mirrored fence however – what fun!

Hudson looks to be a beautiful little town and I love to hear stories of such places thriving and crawling out of decline. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photographs.


Your photos again just knocked my sock off. I have an idea for your next book. Do a “How to do” about photography for regular people (not professionals). I would love to know how you frame your photos, how you find focal points, what you look for when you are walking or touring about. Architecture never interested me so much as when I started reading you book. I love interior design, color, fabric and furniture but now I want to go around looking for great houses, landscapes, etc. Thanks so very much.


Dear Ben and VanFan, VanFan I’m glad you jumped on the Hudson Bay blanket asap. As one of THE cultural icons of Canada we are most protective! It’s a great drive from Toronto/Port Hope down the Hudson Valley to Manhattan. I did it last year, staying in Hudson and visiting Storm King. Fantastic. Add the Dia in Beacon if you are out that way again.

Nicola Lawrencesays:

All gorgeous Ben. I have just sent the link to this post to my daughter who arrived in Boston yesterday… Happy birthday!

Perhaps you will need Christmas elves next year.. when I hope to be in England at that time..???

The Kissing Booth at the Pentreath-Hall shopping night sounds like a great draw-card! I love that little ad/notice.

Kind regards, Nicola


Happy birthday from another scorp! Mine is today.
Love the trip pics.

Belated happy birthday, Ben. As soon as I saw the first photo on the blog, I new you had been to New York. My daughter is a resident of Brooklyn and her neighborhood looks like your pic. Have fun opening your presents!!


PS… just noticed the Carsick book. I am having dinner with John Waters tomorrow night!

LOVE LOVE LOVE Hudson! I have friends who live about 10 minutes outside of Hudson and when I went up to visit them, I fell in love! Although, winter might be a bit dire.

Looking forward to finally meeting you at the P&H Xmas party on the 4th!


So glad you enjoyed your New York jaunt – but do let’s be clear: the Hudson Bay point blanket must more properly be considered a Canadian, not US, icon, famously marketed by Hudson Bay Company department stores in Canada (true, now under American ownership, but the trading feats of the original HBC, set up in the 17th century & the original producers of the blanket, are a major part of Canada’s history …)

happy belated, ben!

so happy to see photos of hudson: have been obsessed with rural residence for a while now, so glad for the peek. (finch looks amazing, too.)

Edward T. Grodersays:

This morning I had to stop off at my church, First Presbyterian, at 12th Street and Fifth Avenue.
On the way I passed the beautifully restored brownstone which appeared on your blog a few
hours later. How remarkable to have your photographer’s eye light up my world of the here and
now. You do get around.

As a Yale trained architect I spent a year in London (1964-1965) at the Architectural Association,
living in the former home of Sir Raymond Unwin, with Nikolaus Pevsner as our next door neighbor
in Hampstead. Your blog has refreshed fond memories and now come full circle.

Southern Galsays:

oh another Scorpion? my bday was sunday… gray day but still november birthdays are special

glad you had a lovely time – you probably drove right thru my village – Irvington – on your way up the Hudson… too bad you could have stopped off for tea and cake!

next time!

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