HUDSON–A waterfront landmark will soon change hands. Known for the last decade or so as Basilica Industria, the brick building at 110 South Front Street was built in 1884 as a foundry and forge for making steel railway wheels, used into the 1980s for rendering hide glue, and refashioned nine years ago into a 13,700 square foot avant garde art and performance space by Patrick Doyle and Catherine Smith. It soon be owned and operated by Livingston residents Bill Stone and Nancy Barber, with their son Tony Stone of Hudson, and his partner musician Melissa Auf der Maur.
Mr. Stone, an artist influenced by the Fluxus movement often associated with Yoko Ono, has also developed loft buildings in New York City. He will have a show of his art in Manhattan later this year at the James Fuentes Gallery. Filmmaker Tony Stone’s feature, “Severed Ways,” which depicts the Norse discovery of North America in the 11th century, was screened at the Angelika Film Center in Manhattan. Ms. Auf der Maur, a base player who is now on tour with her band in Vienna, recently released a new album, “Ooom.” She played with Courtney Love’s band Hole for five years and with Smashing Pumpkins for one year.
“We are very proud to have pioneered and to have prevailed, and we are happy that the Stones are coming in,” said Mr. Doyle in a phone conversation Sunday. According to Mr. Doyle, the Stones have agreed to purchase the historic property for $450,000, which the Doyle’s bought ten years before for $110,000. A closing is scheduled for September 1.
“The Stones are going to be able to do the next phase, they’ll put in the bathrooms and do some improvements and bring it up to what I wanted all along.”
And they plan to keep the name, which Mr. Stone agrees is perfect for a structure that reminds some of an Italian cathedral and can hold up to 1,200 people. Programming, which Mr. Doyle planned for this fall, includes Walking the Dog Theater’s “Bon Appetit!” an opera about Julia Child’s Paris years, September 10 to 24. A sculpture exhibit opens in the adjacent gallery space this Saturday.
People are inquiring about having their weddings in the space, and film shoots may also be scheduled. “We’re open to suggestion,” said Mr. Stone in an interview on Tuesday. He plans to install a movie screen in the theatre space.
The building, classified as a warehouse by the city, requires temporary certificates of occupancy for events. That it still lacks plumbing remains a sore subject with Mr. Doyle. The space also lacks heating. These problems were solved by hiring portable toilets and forgoing most wintertime events.
Cleaning up the space after he bought it was, in Mr. Doyle’s words, “a real work of love.”
“It stunk like death itself,” he said. The cleanup required the removal of a second story loft, and 400 cubic yards of metal, glue rendering vessels, followed by 6 months of pressure washing of the glue-covered walls. All the doors and windows needed to be replaced.
For seven years Mr. Doyle said that he was told by Charlie Butterworth, then the superintendent of the Hudson Department of Public Works that a sewer hookup was not possible. He later discovered that sewer pipes ran only 75 feet from his property, a line the city provided for the former LB Furniture plant next door. He purchased a strip of property that runs along the northern perimeter of LB in order to run his own sewer line but never completed the project. Lack of plumbing stymied Mr. Doyle’s dream of bringing in a microbrewery.
During the past nine years operating Basillica, the culture of Hudson has changed, he said, becoming “more vibrant, more culturally alive, and one of the finest places to live anywhere.” It came to stand for freedom of expression and the right to assemble, he said. “What we need more than anything else is to be with each other face to face.”
He believes that in the future, “Basilica can be an economic engine for the city, and on the next level of development, it can be a regional economic force that will feed into every bar, restaurant, hotel, bed and breakfast in town.”
The Basilica was the site of the Opera House ball in 2002, a Patti Smith concert in 2003 that attracted 1,000, and many other operas, plays, political rallies, circus events and art shows.
On Saturday, a special bittersweet event was held at Basilica Industria, a going-away party for Patrick and Catherine, who are moving to Chester County, Penn., in September so that their daughter, who will start 3rd grade this fall, can attend a Rudolph Steiner school for children with special needs there. The party, attended by between 250 and 400, gave performers and friends a chance to pay tribute to and thank the Doyles for their friendship and their many contributions to Hudson.
Common Council President Don Moore thanked Mr. Doyle for his considerable work on the Local Waterfront Redevelopment Plan.
The party ended with Mr. Doyle using a broom to sweep away the “demons of the past” and to light a torch held by Mr. Stone. He then ran outside followed by everyone there and lit a huge bonfire in front of the warehouse. Within minutes the police arrived to put the fire out and hand Mr. Doyle a summons to appear in court September 8. Prior to the party, he had tried unsuccessfully to obtain a permit for the fire, he said.