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Antiques have been the impetus for the upstate town of Hudson’s renaissance from dereliction to flourishing weekend destination. Located just two hours north of Manhattan, it is home to shops that cater to weekend browsers and serious collectors. The 60 storefronts on Hudson’s Warren Street sell everything from Americana to Biedermeier, Edwardian to Eames — in just seven blocks.
When dealer Alain Pioton — who specializes in French antiques — arrived in 1982, he opened Hudson Antiques Center, (536 Warren Street, 518-828-9920) to a largely empty street. Dealer Jennifer Arenskjold of Arenskjold Antiques (623 Warren Street, 518-828-2800), which focuses on mid-20th century Danish modern furniture, joined him in 1985. “There were big, beautiful, cheap spaces to rent or buy. At first they called us fly-by-night people from New York! Now many of us have been here 25 years,” she said.
The years have seen change not only on the street but in tastes, as well. “When I opened my own shop I began with chintz and Staffordshire. The cluttered English look was popular then,” she said.
The first five years were slow, but soon Hudson was attracting decorators and interior designers. By the late 1990s, it had become the unofficial antiques capital of the Northeast. Visitors soon spotted the architecturally varied real estate at low prices, and so began to buy and restore houses. As the town built its reputation for antiques, tourists followed. Restaurants and shops sprang up. There are now more than 25 antiques galleries, plus clothing boutiques, bookstores, and wine merchants.
One factor that helped the progression was Hudson’s topography. Warren Street, the main thoroughfare, runs straight down to the train station and Hudson River. The biggest concentration of antique dealers is in the 500 and 600 blocks at the top. It is the best place to start for a downhill stroll.
Along the way, you will find Keystone Antiques (746 Warren Street, 518-822-1019), where the focus is large-scale architectural items such as garden urns and cast iron gates. Owner Jim Godman has a sideline in ceramics from Guatemala. “We keep prices fair and move volume. My roots are in Americana, and I’m gradually going back to that,” he said. “You diversify, or turn into a dinosaur.”
Hudson has numerous high-end establishments, such as Sutter Antiques, Noonan Antiques, and Vincent Mulford. But reasonably priced collectibles can be found at places such as Carousel Antiques (611 Warren, 518-828-9127), where a Knoll chair with original upholstery goes for $95 and tin mirrors sell for $120. At the Armory (5th and State streets, 518-822-1477), dozens of dealers gather under one roof, and there is an outdoor flea market that sells everything from birdbaths to door knobs and vintage records.
For Asian antiquities, there is Cummings Antiques (306 Warren Street, 518-822-1432), which specializes in rare Asian sculpture of the Tang and Han dynasties. Now operating by appointment only, Jim Cummings attracts collectors in person from as far afield as Hong Kong.
Like Mr. Cummings, the most interesting dealers have a singular point of view. Angelika Westerhoff (606 Warren, 518-828-3606), likes enormous banquet or conference tables (up to $50,000), but an exquisite 1850 Napoleon III rosewood boudoir table complete with tiny inlaid mother of pearl and brass stars is $6,200.
Chandeliers can be found at Ad Lib (522 Warren, 518-822-6522), where prices range between $1,350 and 28,500. Hudson Supermarket (310 Warren, 518-822-0028), shows Moroccan and Indian wares. David Drew Design (621 Warren, 914-466-4857) is known for witty window displays. Jeff Snider of Art & Object (610 Warren, 518-392-5312) moves quirky scrap yard finds. Kendon Antiques (508 Warren, 518-822-8627) has a reputation for country and folk art.
“For an object lover, it’s thrilling that such different visions are present on one street,” dealer Nancy Shaver said. Her distinctive shop Henry (348 Warren, 518-828-2354) has an eclectic mix of hook rugs coupled with strange sculptural objects recycled from ancient agricultural or industrial machinery.
In tune with current tastes, many shops deal in mid-20th century modernism, a trend pioneered by Mark McDonald in New York in 1981. “We were first, fast, and smart,” he said. “Designers like Noguchi or Eames were still alive so we could visit, ask questions.”
In 2002, Mr. McDonald quit New York City and now owns Mark McDonald Ltd (555 Warren, 518-828-6320), where he sells jewelry together with furniture by Droog Collective — and a set of Frank Lloyd Wright windows for $250,000. Frank Rosa of 20th Century Gallery (605 Warren, 518-822-8907) started selling modernism in 1996 as a way of standing out. “At that time there was a gap in the Hudson market. I love the patina of wood, simple shapes and clean lines, but am less keen on shiny chrome,” he said.
Hudson also boasts an auction house: Stair Auctioneers, which opened at 549 Warren Street in 2001, (518-751-1000). Their next sale is on September 26 and will have many bargains. The auction house was welcomed by dealers, as auctions bring buyers into town — which after quarter of a century is what Hudson is all about.
Stores are closed Tuesday and Wednesdays. For more information, www.hudsonantiques.net