Transitions

Restored, Saved, Threatened, Lost

Threatened

Harbor View  In 1909, Frederick William Wakefield, an inventor who helped revolutionize electric lighting fixtures, built this grand, three-story manor on the southern shore of Lake Erie in Vermilion, Ohio. Wakefield's family lived at Harbor View for nearly a half-century; the Great Lakes Historical Society then converted the house into its headquarters and a marine museum. Now that the society plans to move to Toledo, the community fears that developers will purchase the estate and raze the manor. Residents hope to find a new owner committed to preserving the National Historic Landmark.

Lowell Thomas Building  Built in 1912 for Stephen C. Clark, heir to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune, this brick structure on Manhattan's Upper East Side now serves as the headquarters for the Explorers Club, a society dedicated to the advancement of international field research. An estimated $5 million is needed to repair crumbling masonry and refurbish 113 stained-glass windows, among other projects. The club has launched a capital campaign to raise the necessary funds.

Saved

Brenske Plumbing, Heating & Supply Co. Sign  When the Brenske Building in Saginaw, Mich., was razed more than a decade ago, workers salvaged its 20-foot-high neon sign, an advertisement depicting a water faucet. Last summer, the Saginaw Valley Historic Preservation Society raised nearly $5,000 to have the 1958 sign removed from storage and restored. The society installed it in a parking lot near other salvaged signs, creating an outdoor museum. 

Restored

Building 330  Soldiers and civilians assigned to Fort Shafter in Honolulu reported for duty at this 1940s structure, known as the Aloha Center. In recent years, Building 330 stood on the verge of collapse because of deferred maintenance and extensive termite damage. In September, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a two-year, $7 million effort to restore the exterior and repair structural damage.

Standard Life Building  The largest reinforced concrete building in the world when it was constructed in 1929, this Art Deco landmark in Jackson, Miss., recently underwent a $33.5 million restoration. The structure, which formerly housed offices, now contains 76 apartments, a business center, and retail space. Workers restored original light fixtures, copper moldings, and transoms in the lobby. A New Orleans developer, HRI Properties, led the project, which is part of a larger redevelopment plan that included restoration of the adjacent King Edward Hotel.

Trenton Bath House  "I discovered myself after designing that little concrete block bathhouse in Trenton." So said the renowned Modernist architect Louis Kahn about the structure he designed for the Trenton Jewish Community Center in 1955, a commission that influenced and inspired almost all of his later work. But the Bath House—which offered changing rooms and showers—had fallen into disrepair by the time the site was sold in 2007. The new owner, Ewing Township, hired Farewell Mills Gatsch Architects to conduct a restoration that cost more than $1.5 million. The project was completed in October, and the site now serves as the township's community and senior center.

Lost

Shusett House  This Beverly Hills residence, designed by the architect John Lautner and featuring a curved glass facade, was razed in September. One of Lautner's first major commissions, the 1951 house had deteriorated, and the longtime owners decided to build a new home on the site. The John Lautner Foundation and other groups failed to persuade the owners to sell Shusett House or allow it to be moved to another location.  

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