Restored, Saved, Lost, Threatened
By Elizabeth McNamara | From Preservation | March/April 2010
Lake Champlain: Bridge In December, crews detonated charges to demolish the historic Lake Champlain Bridge after officials from the New York State Department of Transportation and the Vermont Agency of Transportation declared it beyond rehabilitation. Designed by Charles Spofford, the 2,186-foot-long structure opened in 1929. Its loss forces thousands of travelers to rely upon limited ferry service or drive about 100 miles around the lake to reach the other side. A new bridge is not expected to open until 2011.
Friend Convalescent Home: Walter Gropius, the pioneering architect and founder of the Bauhaus School, helped design this convalescent home on the former Michael Reese Hospital campus in Chicago. Last October, the 1953 structure was demolished. Three other Gropius structures on the campus—the Laundry Building, Serum Center, and Power Plant—fell in November. As of press time, four of the architect's buildings still stand at Reese, and the Gropius in Chicago Coalition hopes to submit a revised nomination to the National Register to preserve them.
The Big Fish: Last May, the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota added The Big Fish in Bena to its mostendangered list. The 1958 roadside landmark once served as a hamburger and ice cream stand (and made a cameo appearance in the Chevy Chase comedy National Lampoon's Vacation). Bell Mortgage's president and CEO, Gary Kirt, who grew up nearby, donated nearly $25,000 to restore the 65-foot-long giant "muskie." Restoration was completed in November, and a restaurant serving burgers and beers reopened next door.
Byars Hall: Following a year-long, $7 million remodel, the oldest academic structure at Emory & Henry College reopened last May and was dedicated in September as the third LEED-certified building in southwestern Virginia. The renovation program included a three-story addition and restoration of the "literary society rooms." Built in the late 1880s, Byars Hall currently houses the Emory, Va., college's visual and performing arts division.
Jordan Park Elementary: When it opened in 1925, Jordan Park Elementary was the second school in St. Petersburg, Fla., built especially for black students. The two-story brick school closed in the 1970s after the Pinellas County courts declared segregation illegal, and was shuttered by the city in 1997 due to structural deterioration. Beginning in October 2008, the building underwent a 10-month, $4.7 million restoration, which removed a 1948 addition and lead paint, and introduced sustainable design features such as solar water heating and gray water systems—earning the project one of the city's first LEED certifications. A Head Start center has already moved into the building.
Grant Wood Stained-Glass Window: During a June 2008 flood, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was submerged to its rooftops, and a Grant Wood stained-glass window in the Veterans Memorial Building was heavily damaged. Water cracked the 20-by-24-foot window, valued at $3 million, in more than 100 places. In a $150,000 effort, glass restoration specialists in Davenport are disassembling the 1927 window's panels to clean, repair, and re-lead where necessary. The project should be completed by Memorial Day.
Roslyn Grist Mill: Nassau County, N.Y., and the Gerry Charitable Trust will spend $2.2 million to revive the Roslyn Grist Mill, believed to have been constructed between 1715 and 1741. The National Register-listed mill became a museum and tea room in 1919, and suffered from neglect and water damage before being acquired by the county in 1976. The architecture firm John G. Waite Associates plans to restore the mill, raising the structure four feet to protect it from flooding. Work will begin this year.
Western Federation of Miners Union Hall: In 1904, three years after it was built by the Western Federation of Miners in Victor, Colo., this brick structure became the site of the first government attack on organized labor. Troops fired on the building during the arrest of union leaders, who were later jailed and tortured. Bullet holes still scar the building's facade, and the structure is threatened by neglect, its roof near collapse. Because of the historical significance, the union hall is eligible for the National Register. Emergency stabilization alone would cost more than $500,000.
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