Restored, Saved, Threatened
By Krista Walton | From Preservation | September/October 2009
Milwaukee City Hall Upon its completion in 1895, Milwaukee City Hall was the second-tallest building in the country. By the turn of the following century, hundreds of thousands of bricks had deteriorated, and the National Historic Landmark required immediate attention. Workers encased the 393-foot-tall structure in 75 miles of scaffolding and began a comprehensive restoration program. Last December, after a three-year, $76 million effort led by architects Engberg Anderson, Inc. and the city of Milwaukee, the restored City Hall was unveiled. It now boasts exterior adornments modeled on terra-cotta originals and a fully restored clock tower.
Memorial Hall Constructed for the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, Memorial Hall housed the Philadelphia Museum of Art until 1928. Later, a series of tenants used the building for everything from a recreation center and police station to a recording studio. But by 2000 the massive Beaux-Arts structure stood empty. Following an elaborate, $88 million restoration that took six years, Memorial Hall reopened last fall as the new home of the Please Touch Museum, an interactive learning center for children. The transformation was recognized with a 2009 Honor Award in October.
Aquidneck Mill Building The 1831 Aquidneck Mill in Newport, R.I., was originally used for the manufacturing and exporting of textiles. In 2007, the International Yacht Restoration School embarked upon a $6.8 million program that included repairing the stone-and-brick exterior, and refinishing interior wood beams and floors. The restored mill building, occupied since February, now provides space for a maritime library and visitors center, as well as 10 commercial tenants.
First Church of Christ, Scientist When two neighboring congregations in New York City found themselves with fewer members and limited funds, they joined forces. The consolidated congregation sold one landmark church to an organization that agreed to preserve the exterior, then used proceeds from the sale to repair the remaining 1901 sanctuary. New York-based Sydness Architects restored the church's copper dome and cleaned the marble-and-granite facade. Then crews moved to the interior, restoring a stained-glass dome atop the main auditorium. Restoration was completed last year.
Hulihe'e Palace Constructed out of lava rocks set in coral-based mortar, this 1838 building in Kona was built by Gov. John Adams Kuakini. In the late 1800s, King Kalakaua enlarged and stuccoed the exterior of the palace, transforming it into a comfortable royal getaway. In late 2006, the building was closed to visitors because of severe structural damage caused by an earthquake. Thanks to a $1.8 million fundraising effort led by the nonprofit Daughters of Hawaii, the building was restored and repainted, and is now open to the public.
Memorial Coliseum Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Ore., is considered a midcentury modern masterpiece. Since opening in 1960, the 17,000-seat arena has hosted Elvis, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan, and was home to professional basketball's Trail Blazers. Earlier this year, a master plan for the city's Rose Quarter marked the coliseum for demolition. But after substantial public outcry at multiple city council meetings, the arena was saved. Now, local preservation groups are working on an application to list the building on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bartow County Courthouse This 1869 treasure is one of only two Italianate-style courthouses in Georgia. Unused since the mid-1990s, the National Register-listed courthouse suffered from severe neglect: The bricks and chimney were crumbling, termites had eaten through floorboards, and exterior walls were buckling. Last year the city of Cartersville began emergency stabilization efforts. Workers repointed the brick exterior, replaced floors and parts of the exterior walls, and rebuilt a staircase. The Bartow History Museum will move into the courthouse next year.
Sellers Hall In 1682, Upper Darby, Pa., was so remote that Samuel Sellers lived in a cave while constructing his house. The farmhouse (pictured above in 1906) survived the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War, and provided shelter for slaves fleeing north. Today the deteriorating structure is owned by St. Alice Church. Parish officials once planned to raze the building, but now say they will leave it standing, though no reuse plan has been proposed. Local preservationists have formed a group called Save Sellers Hall; their first initiative is to list the building on the National Register of Historic Places.
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