By ROBERT MARCHANT
The Journal News
(Original publication: April 11, 2006)
OSSINING ? An old fishing shack that has stood on the banks of the Hudson River since 1927 will be torn down next week to make way for upscale condos.
The little wooden shanty was used by Henry Gourdine and his crew mates to set out from in the early morning to take striped bass, shad, carp, crabs and smelt from the river with lines, nets and buckets.
Gourdine, who died in 1997 at the age of 94, had followed generations of Hudson rivermen who harvested the vast protein factory below the river's surface, a trade now practiced by only a handful.
Now, as part of its deal with developers to bring new housing and business to the waterfront, the Ossining village administration has given the go-ahead to its public-works staff to take down the shack on Monday and clear out its contents for future display in a museum. The shanty lies on public land just north of the Ossining train station that the village is planning to turn over to developers for construction of 150 homes and 10,000 square feet of retail space.
"We'll catalog everything, store it away, and see where we go from here," said Marlene Cheatham, a member of the village board.
The little shack, just big enough to fit two of Gourdine's hand-built boats inside, will not be be saved.
"It's not salvageable," Cheatham said. "We considered saving it, but it couldn't even last being put on the back of a truck."
The village's decision to remove the old shack has troubled the Gourdine family, who would like a learning center or small, standalone museum built there.
"I want to see if we can't get a museum up ? maybe not a big one, but something for young people to know there's a river down there," said Norman Gourdine, the fisherman's son.
He said it was painful to contemplate the loss of the shanty, part of family history and the history of the Hudson.
"It's been there so long," he said, adding that he was looking into legal possibilities to preserve it.
Village officials say they have the legal right to clear the land, but that preservation and education were their goals, too.
"We'll certainly preserve the artifacts and recognize the Gourdine family and their contributions to the river," Mayor Eugene Napolitano said.
The village has held preliminary discussions with the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers about taking the material, which includes nets, boats and other fishing tools. The Ossining Historical Society has also been a party to the discussions, but its small exhibit space on Croton Avenue would make any display unlikely.
Cheatham said an educational display about Gourdine and the river would be part of the new construction there. She said a proposed kayak shack would be a good place for a small display, and it could be used for school groups to learn about Gourdine and the river.
"People need to see what went on down there," she said.
What the village does with the material from Gourdine's shack will be closely followed by naturalists and friends of the river.
"It's not going to do anyone any good in a closet," said Ken Sargeant, a documentary filmmaker from Croton-on-Hudson who interviewed Gourdine. "Where's does one put 100 years of history? The real story is what's going to happen to it now. It's such a great resource of maritime artifacts that tell the story of the river. The closing of that shanty, it's the closing of a chapter."