Restored, Saved, Threatened
By Elizabeth McNamara | From Preservation | July/August 2010
Chatham County Courthouse In March, as this Pittsboro, N.C., courthouse was undergoing a $415,000 restoration, a construction worker accidentally ignited a fire that significantly damaged the landmark. Built in 1881, the brick structure with pine timber framing contained offices for judges and lawyers, as well as the Chatham County Historical Museum. The courthouse will now be rebuilt.
Warner & Swasey Observatory In 1919, Cleveland's foremost architectural firm, Walker & Weeks, teamed up with the area's leading manufacturer of machine tools and precision instruments, Warner & Swasey. The result: a state-of-the-art observatory that the Case School of Applied Science, now Case Western University, used to conduct research. In 1983, the university sold the site, which features Art Deco woodwork and mosaic floor tiling. After a subsequent owner was indicted for mortgage fraud in 2007, the courts seized the property. The observatory may be sold at a sheriff's sale in the coming months.
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Following an extensive restoration and seismic retrofit, the main building of this grand repository of more than 35 million specimens shines once again. Designed by Hudson & Munsell and opened in 1913, the T-shaped structure blends Spanish Renaissance, Romanesque, and Beaux-Arts elements. CO Architects studied original drawings, photos, and blueprints in reviving the rotunda and three 1920s additions. Workers repaired the ceramic-tiled exterior dome and copper parapet, repointed bricks, and refurbished marble walls and mosaics.
Wilde Building (CIGNA Campus) Designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill for a site in Bloomfield, Conn., this striking, early example of suburban office park architecture was threatened with demolition a decade ago. The news that CIGNA HealthCare planned to flatten the structure sparked public outrage. The National Trust for Historic Preservation included the International-style building, constructed in 1957, on its 2001 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, and CIGNA ultimately enlisted MacRostie Historic Advisors to lead a restoration. Workers completed the project last fall.
Paramount Theatre Added to the National Trust's 1995 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, this Boston theater stood neglected for decades, until Emerson College purchased it in 2005. In partnership with the City of Boston, the college commissioned Elkus Manfredi Architects and embarked on a $92 million restoration, transforming the 1932 Art Deco structure into a 596-seat performance space. The project included the addition of a new restaurant and student housing in an adjacent building. The theater, its marquee aglow once again, has helped spur other revitalization projects in the neighborhood.
Casa Loma Hotel This Spanish Colonial Revival structure in Tulsa was built in 1927 along what would become Route 66, and featured both lodging and retail stores that attracted travelers and locals alike. By the late 1990s, though, the building had started to deteriorate, and it languished until Group M Investment, a local real estate development firm, purchased the property in 2008 for $840,000. The firm has started restoring the two-story structure to its original use, with workers concentrating on the vintage terrazzo flooring, parapet walls, and exterior brickwork. The hotel's grand reopening is scheduled for next February.
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