The Village Hall, 85 South Main Street
The Village Hall, located at the northeast corner of South Main Street and Stimpson Avenue in Castleton-on-Hudson, was built in 1866 as a public school and now houses the Village Office and Castleton Public Library on the first floor. The second floor is used for meeting space, and has seen relatively few changs from its former life in the early 20th Century as four Common School classrooms.
The Castleton Union Free School was built in 1866, on the site of a prior school building. The land for the original school had been donated by Catherine Van Buren in 1837. In early 1866, additional property in front of the school was donated by Samuel and Elizabeth Campbell (Landmark Consulting). It served as a school until 1923, when the present Castleton Elementary School was built at Scott and Campbell Avenues (“A Village Walk,” 1977). In the mid 1800's, a well-known architect, Frank Jesup Scott (1828-1918), contributed to the architectural and landscape beauty in Castleton-on-Hudson. He designed the Scott mansion for his father Jesup Scott, and it has been stated that he also designed the Village Hall which originally housed the public school (Village History, castleton-on-hudson.org). Although there is evidence that Jesup Scott lived in Castleton-on-Hudson from at least 1866-69, his son’s contribution to 85 South Main is undocumented. The entire Scott family (father Jesup, brothers Maurice, Frank and William) were from Connecticut, and are important to the history of Toledo, Ohio, where Frank J. may have been the first architect. Frank J. Scott is best known today for his book, The Art of Beautifying Suburban Home Grounds of Small Extent (1870). Martin J. Smith and Patrick J. Kiger (2004) wrote in Poplorica: A Popular History of the Fads, Mavericks, Inventions, and Lore That Shaped Modern America, "Perhaps Scott’s most significant contribution — one which continues to thrive in American lawn culture — is the sense that each lawn should be a patch in a great green quilt that united a community and ultimately becomes part of the collective national landscape."
The Village Hall building is brick, two-story and in the Italianate/Second Empire style. It has a Mansard roof, articulated engaged brick pilasters, brick corbelling, pocketed cornice and elongated window openings. When first constructed, it was five bays wide on the front facade and two bays deep on the side, half the depth of the present building. In 1902, the building was doubled in size with a large rear addition added that matched the existing building in detailing and materials.
It had a centered tower that rose above the height of the Mansard roof and included an open frame belfry. The original floor plan was two classrooms on each floor with the second floor reached by a central staircase located a short distance from the front door. The earliest known photographic documentation of the building show the first story windows having a 12 over 12 double-hung sash with the upper sash arched to fit the segmental arched lintels. The windows also had exterior louvered shutters with arched tops. The second floor dormer windows contained 2/2 segmental arched double-hung sash. The recessed rectangular plaque over the front door displayed the words “Free School No. 10.” Today, the recessed panel remains, but the plaque is missing (it was present in 1989).
Historic images of the building also suggest that the brickwork was always painted one color until the early 1900s, when two colors can be seen. The front entry included a multi-panel fanlight transom above a pair of in-swinging double wood doors. These doors were replaced with a single door around 1915. The building was also constructed originally with a wood shingle roof, that was likely initially replaced with pressed metal shingles in the 1930s, which in turn were replaced in 1994 with modern pressed metal shingles. Originally, the roof design included a built-in cornice gutter at the base of the Mansard roof that is now covered over by sheet metal flashing. The first floor windows were replaced in the 1910s, and then further retrofitted in 1994 with double panel glazing units. The bell tower was removed by the 1950s.
It continued its original use as a school until 1923, when a larger school was constructed on Campbell and Scott Avenues. Soon thereafter the building began to be used by the town and Village for offices. In 1926, Castleton on Hudson purchased it from the school district for a sum of $6,000. Between 1926 and 1933, the Village added a small masonry ell to the north side for the vault. The town of Schodack maintained offices in the building until 1969, after which it has been used exclusively for the Village government, the public library, and meeting space for community groups.
Landmark Consulting has compiled a list of recent studies conducted or alterations made to the building: 1902, building doubled in size and original center stair removed; circa 1900, louvered first floor shutters removed and brickwork painted with two colors; circa 1910, original 12 over 12 first floor windows replaced with 1/1 windows; 1912, a small gable entry canopy added to first entry covering the fan light transom; 1912 wood entry steps replaced with concrete; 1915 double entry doors replaced with single door; circa 1930, original wood shingle roof on mansard removed and replaced with pressed metal shingles; circa 1950 bell tower mansard roof removed and capped with plywood fascia; 1989, existing conditions survey conducted by Pierpont Nelson Architects; 1994, small gabled entry canopy removed and brickworks repainted with two color scheme; 1996, first floor structural investigation conducted by Klepper, Hahn & Hyatt Engineers; 1997 structural floor framing repairs under corridor and library; 2006, project manual developed for new elevator installation project produced by Sacco and McKinney Architects and Clark Engineering; 2012, installation of two new boilers and related piping by Bourque Mechanical Systems.
The upstairs is virtually the same as it was in 1902, aside from a water fountain in the hallway and electric lighting throughout. It consists of four classrooms and an office. The stairs have been carpeted. Downstairs has seen many changes, and more than one renovation. There is the Village Office, the Castleton Public Library, a bathroom and an annex room that used to be a judge’s office. The corridor has paneling from the 1970s, and it and the library are carpeted. A rear entrance ramp was installed to make the downstairs accessible. The most recent changes were in 2016, when a window was added in the hallway for the Village Clerk and a security system was implemented. Prior to that, the library was updated in 2014.