Lodgings: The Inn at Hudson, a One-Doily B & B
What do you do when it dawns on you, too late, that you may have bought more house than you can afford to maintain? That’s easy; turn it into a b & b. At least, it was easy for Dini Lamot and Windle Davis.
A little background: The couple met in 1974, and later with some friends formed a Boston-based rock band, Human Sexual Response. Still later, after they had lived in a lot of fun places (Key West, Cape Cod, Vermont, Hollywood) and had bought, fixed up, and sold a lot of fun houses, they settled in Hudson and took a stab at becoming impresarios. Dini, performing as Musty Chiffon*,
appeared occasionally at their cabaret, The Hudson River Theater, but mostly they booked out-of-town acts. As an economy measure, they usually would invite the traveling performers to stay with them for free. So it wasn’t much of a leap to dub their new fix-up project The Inn at Hudson and start taking in paying guests.
In fact, it would be kind of criminal not to share a house this great. The Dutch-Jacobean style-structure was designed in 1903 by the architect Marcus T. Reynolds** for the scion of a soap-manufacturing family. The interior, considered one of his finest achievements, has a soaring paneled central reception hall and a broad staircase leading to a three-sided balcony—all woodwork fashioned from solid chestnut. Throughout the 8 bedroom structure, there are 42 stained-glass windows, most done with rare finesse and restraint. Though they are unsigned, the present owners make a credible case for their having been the work of William Lightfoot Price, a prominent early 20th-century architect who took a year’s hiatus to make stained glass in a Utopian community he founded called Rose Valley. His work was so distinguished that one of his windows—its unusual style indistinguishable from the best ones in this house—is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of
Art. “I have not found paperwork to substantiate that Price is the artist,” says Windle, “although it seems obvious that he is.”
For a couple of decades between its heyday as a grand private residence and the day Windle and Dini rescued it, Reynold’s masterpiece served as a rather grim nursing home. The room that is once again a sun-filled solarium, a magnet for coffee-and-newspaper-bearing guests on Sunday
mornings, had been subsumed by a meanly utilitarian addition, now blessedly gone.
“This is a one-doily b and b,” says Dini, whose ranking system goes from 0 doilies to 10, and is not so much a measure of the quality of the decorating, as its weight. In fact, most rooms at The Inn at Hudson seem merely furnished, some with good antiques from Windle’s family, but most with things the couple have collected over the years. (But for some wild lamps in the library, this might even be a zero-doily b & b.) Because of this restraint, The Inn at Hudson is a great favorite with New York artists and other visual sophisticates, most of whom, according to the owners, arrive by train. “We’re just blocks from the station,” says Windle. “They are here to see Hudson, and to eat some good locally-grown food.” For dinner, according to the innkeepers, their guests invariably head for Swoon one night, and “someplace else” another. At breakfast Dini accommodates by serving such delicacies as a pair of perfectly poached local eggs on wholegrain toast with tomatilla (from their garden) salsa.
* Musty will be appearing on July 30 at the Spiegeltent at Bard Summerscape.
** Reynolds also designed the curious, castle-like structure in Albany that sits hard by southbound Route 787. Originally called the Delaware and Hudson and Albany Evening Journal Building, it now is part of SUNY Albany. The weathervane that sits atop one of its turrets is a replica of the Halfmoon, Henry Hudson’s ship.
The Inn at Hudson
317 Allen Street, Hudson; 518.822.9322