ELIZABETHTOWN - Hubbard Hall on Court Street was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, four years after it was almost demolished by Essex County to be used as a parking lot. Now, fire has wiped this landmark off the map, surprising the entire community, especially those who tried to save it from the wrecking ball.
In 1995, the Essex County Board of Supervisors gave the historic structure to the town of Elizabethtown. Two years later, it was turned over to a developer and refurbished. On Jan. 11, 2011, Hubbard Hall was destroyed by an early-morning fire.
Adirondack Architectural Heritage Executive Director Steven Engelhart was shocked to hear of Hubbard Hall's destruction. In a phone interview conducted as the fire was still burning, Engelhart described the turn of events as "a huge loss."
"Wow," Engelhart said, still trying to recover from the shock of the news. "It's hard to imagine that street without it. It's a beautiful building. It was well loved by the community."
The county's decision in 1995 to save Hubbard Hall was a turning point for Elizabethtown.
"It seemed like it would have been a rash decision (to tear down Hubbard Hall) without going to the private marketplace and give someone time to recover and restore it," Engelhart said. "It was a successful project, from an economic and restoration/preservation point of view, and the county did the right thing."
Hubbard Hall gets its name from the days when it was used by North Country Community College (NCCC), yet the building's history spans 170 years.
The year was 1840. Martin Van Buren was president of the United States. Elizabethtown lawyer Augustus C. Hand was one of New York's 41 Congressmen serving in the U.S. House of Representatives (1839-1841) alongside future President Millard Fillmore. Orlando Kellogg (1809-1865) was a young lawyer in Elizabethtown and had just built a house a short distance away from the Essex County Courthouse. That house, the Kellogg House, would eventually become known as Hubbard Hall.