Restored, Saved, Threatened
By Elizabeth McNamara | From Preservation | September/October 2010
La Laguna de San Gabriel The concrete sculptures at the San Gabriel, Calif., playground nicknamed Monster Park were threatened with demolition in 2006, when the city proposed replacing the park with soccer fields. Local residents formed a friends' group, helped persuade the city to preserve the playground, and in April secured a $250,000 grant from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment to begin rehabilitating the sculptures. The whale, octopus, and dragon, among other creatures, were designed in the 1960s by the Mexican-born concrete artist Benjamin Dominguez.
Hudson & Manhattan Railroad Powerhouse This Romanesque Revival building in Jersey City, N.J., designed in 1908 by architect John Oakman, powered the first subway line connecting the Garden State and New York City. Closed in 1929 and long used for storage, the powerhouse slowly deteriorated and was named to the 2000 list of New Jersey's most endangered historic places. Last summer, Jersey City officials commissioned Beyer Blinder Belle to undertake a $3.4 million stabilization project. Crews initiated emergency structural repairs, removed hazardous debris, and installed a temporary roof. The city hopes to secure funding next summer for a full-scale restoration.
Steam Tug Baltimore This 1906 tug, once the city's official launch for visiting dignitaries, sank in 1979 and remained under water for two years. The last hand-fired, coal-burning vessel of its kind in the country, she was salvaged in 1981 and donated to the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Though the museum has secured a $250,000 Save America's Treasures grant for restoration, another $3 million is still needed to stabilize and preserve the National Historic Landmark.
Arlington Building Designed by William Gibbons Rantoul in 1904, this Beaux-Arts building with a street-level Art Deco facade housed Shreve, Crump & Low, New England's oldest jeweler, for 75 years. Upon acquiring the Boston structure in 2005, Druker Co. Ltd. submitted a proposal to demolish it, but the recession helped stall that plan. Recently, the Boston Landmarks Commission denied two petitions to list the building, leading local residents to fear that demolition may again be imminent.
Cal Neva Lodge When Frank Sinatra owned this Lake Tahoe casino-hotel in Crystal Bay, Nev., regulars included his fellow Rat Packers, not to mention Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. Last April, however, the roulette wheels stopped spinning when the property went into foreclosure and Canyon Capital Realty Advisors took control. The Los Angeles-based financial institution hopes to reopen the storied casino, built in 1937, but analysts question whether the gaming industry in the region has suffered too sharp a decline for the casino to operate profitably.
Umbrella House In 1953, the acclaimed Modernist architect Paul Rudolph designed this 2,000-square-foot structure in Sarasota, Fla., named for the enormous wood trellis that extends across the house's roof and pool. But this product of the Sarasota School of Architecture badly needed repair by the late 1960s and was only rescued when museum designers Julie and Vincent Ciulla purchased it in 2005. After an extensive restoration, which included rebuilding much of the trellis, the house is now open for private tours.
Adlai E. Stevenson Historic Home Illinois governor and two-time Democratic presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson lived much of his life in this 1938 structure in Libertyville, Ill. In recent years, the historic site had fallen into disrepair, with a ceiling caving, railings rotting, and the landscape becoming overgrown. A $2 million state grant funded restoration of the house, which reopened to the public in the spring. Now on display: an exhibition about Stevenson's life, supported by a $98,000 Save America's Treasures grant.
Oakland Museum of California This museum, a striking Midcentury Modern building designed by Kevin Roche with roof gardens and a central courtyard by landscape architect Dan Kiley, reopened in May following a $62.2 million renovation. Mark Cavagnero Associates led the restoration of the 1969 poured-concrete structure, which showcases art, artifacts, and other collections reflecting different periods of California history. Workers modernized gallery spaces and installed new mechanical systems. The natural sciences gallery remains closed, pending renovations scheduled to be completed by 2012.
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