On my very first visit to Howard Hall, we spent the majority of the evening on the porch that spans the entire width of the back of the house. The view was incredible. The Hudson, framed by acres and acres of trees, lolled by in the distance. The feeling of it all being so close you could touch it was amplified by the fact that the railing had yet to be installed. The scene felt like a Hudson River School painting that I could walk right into, Mary Poppins style.
The view from the roof
The only thing distracting from this view was a tree. A large tree, a pine tree, shooting into the air not five yards from the porch. In an otherwise tree-less expanse of field and meadow, this lone pine, snuggled up to the house, made its home. But in doing so, it broke up the perfect view to the east of the town of Hudson and the river that was its namesake.
Sad, scraggly tree
Despite its height, which is formidable, it looked sad. Sick. Its branches scraggly.
Appearances aside, I liked the tree. I didn’t mind that it blotted out some of that perfect view. It had character. And something else… Tenants!
Various sparrows, wrens, chickadees and robins flitted in and out of its bedraggled, Charlie Brown branches on the regular. When the season is right, there’s no doubt several nests hidden in the needles full of fluffy chicks of various species, and I’m sure a few squirrels keep their stores there as well.
No pine here…
Now, if you look at the many images we’ve managed to find of the house in its earliest days, you’ll see that this tree has not always been there. In fact, it looks like it only started to sprout sometime in the latter half of the 20th century. When it comes to restoration, accuracy is key, and if we’re bringing this Federal mansion back to its 1700s roots, then technically, the tree should go… Right?
Could that be our same tree sprouting in the center of this postcard from the ’60s?
But the birds! And the squirrels! And whatever other little creatures!
This exact debate was had that first night when I came to Howard Hall, took in the view, and witnessed the dozens of chattering birds zipping in and around that eyesore (I wouldn’t call it that, but some certainly do!) of a conifer.
Nothing could really spoil this view!
What do you think? Should we chop this behemoth down in favor of historical accuracy, or let the birds (and whatever other creatures reside here) keep their high rise?