Restored, Saved, Threatened, Lost
By Elizabeth McNamara | From Preservation | July/August 2011
Boston Waterworks Designed by Arthur Vinal and Edmund Wheelwright, this 1887 Richardsonian Romanesque building houses three massive steam pumps and an intricate system of pipes that supplied the greater Boston area with drinking water for nearly a century. After the city adopted a gravity-based supply system in the 1970s, the structure was threatened with demolition. Over the last 20 years, a group of local residents have helped spearhead a restoration costing more than $5 million. The building now houses four condos and a waterworks museum, which opened in March.
Ybor Square In 1886, a Spanish immigrant, Don Vicente Martinez Ybor, built the largest cigar factory in the world in Tampa. The four-building complex, later named Ybor Square, helped inspire the rise of Tampa's cigar industry and the construction of more than 200 factories. Handmade cigars were manufactured inside the National Register-listed complex until 1936. Subsequently, it housed a shopping center and office space. Last year, the Church of Scientology purchased three buildings on the the property for $7 million and embarked on a nearly $6 million restoration of the 88,000-square-foot facility.
James Watson House A colonial merchant named James Watson built this mansion on the southern tip of Manhattan in 1793 and hosted such dignitaries as George Washington and Alexander Hamilton in the grand ballroom. In 1883, Our Lady of the Rosary church purchased the property and established a mission to aid Irish immigrants, later converting the house to a rectory. Today, the structure, the last remaining Federal row house in Lower Manhattan, shines anew following a 10-year, $930,000 restoration. The project was funded in part by grants from the National Trust and the New York Landmarks Conservancy.
Scott Street Elementary School Built in 1922, Scott Street Elementary in Baton Rouge, La., thrived as one of the first public schools in the state to educate African American children. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. But the structure was abandoned and it languished until the Gulf Coast Housing Partnership, a nonprofit formed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, purchased the property at auction in 2007. The partnership led an $8.5 million project that has transformed the site into an affordable-housing complex, with 20 units inside the historic school.
Chelsea House Livery Stable/Longworth Complex The flat-roofed, rusticated concrete block structure was built between 1905 and 1906 near the train depot in Chelsea, Mich., so that travelers had a place to hitch horses. The building was later converted into an automobile repair shop and storage facility for the larger showroom next door. In 2008, after the structures had sat vacant for six years, the city’s Downtown Development Authority purchased them and proposed demolition in order to create a parking lot. But the stable and showroom stand in a historic district recently added to the National Register, offering some hope that the structures may be saved.
Sahara Hotel and Casino Built in 1952 by Del Webb and operated by Milton Prell, this Moroccan-themed destination on the Las Vegas Strip fast became a favorite of the Rat Pack, which often dined at the hotel’s House of Lords steakhouse and filmed scenes on site for the movie Ocean's 11. In 2007, Los Angeles-based SBE entertainment group purchased the building, intending to restore it. But the company shuttered the Sahara in May, citing economic hardship. Company officials say they are still exploring uses for the structure, but preservationists fear it may ultimately be razed.
Chicago Motor Club Designed by the architecture firm Holabird & Root, the Art Deco building at 68 E. Wacker Pl. housed the Chicago Motor Club for more than 50 years. But the 1928 structure, featuring a stunning limestone facade, has been vacant since developer Sam Roti purchased the property in the 1990s. After his proposal to transform the tower into a boutique hotel fell through, he declared bankruptcy late last year. A judge recently ordered that the historic building be sold at auction this summer, with a suggested starting bid of $500,000.
Czecho-Slovak Protective Society Hall When a 2008 flood wiped out entire neighborhoods in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, this 1891 building, a former social hall for Czech and Slovak immigrants, suffered extensive damage. The nonprofit owner, Legion Arts, embarked on a project to repair the damaged facade and update the building and an adjacent firehouse in order to accommodate a modern theater, space for galleries, and an artist-in-residence program. The $7 million rehabilitation is scheduled to be completed in September. Read more >>
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