Restored, Saved, Threatened, Lost
By Elizabeth McNamara | From Preservation | May/June 2011
North Carolina State University Bookstore Dramatic poured-concrete canopies distinguish this 1960 Modernist landmark, designed by Milton Small, a student of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, for N.C. State’s Raleigh campus. The university plans to expand an adjacent student center and demolish the bookstore. N.C. State administrators rejected an adaptive use proposal because of high costs and the deteriorating condition of the structure.
Thompson & Company Cigar Factory From its opening in 1925 until the early 1960s, when mechanization transformed the industry, more than 120,000 cigars a day were rolled at this Mission Revival building in the central Florida town of Bartow. After Thompson & Company closed the factory, the building changed hands several times, with Polk County taking possession in the early 1970s. The county commission has considered razing the structure, which is compromised by asbestos, termite damage, and the effects of a series of hurricanes in 2004. But with several developers interested in adapting the National Register-listed building, the city set a May deadline for an environmental assessment—the first step toward possible restoration.
West Side Tennis Stadium The greatest tennis players of the 20th century—Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, Rod Laver, Margaret Court, and Jimmy Connors among them—served, volleyed, and stroked backhands at this 14,000-seat stadium in the Forest Hills section of Queens, N.Y. After the U.S. Open moved to Flushing Meadows in 1977, the West Side Tennis Stadium hosted various professional tournaments but was eventually abandoned. The club that owns the badly deteriorated stadium discussed demolition with a developer interested in building condos. But in October, the club voted to retain the stadium and solicit ideas for reuse. About $12 million is needed just to repair the crumbling 1923 landmark.
Ridglea Theater For 40 years, residents of Fort Worth, Texas, packed this single-screen movie house designed by architect A.C. Luther. As glitzy multiplex theaters came into vogue, however, attendance at the Ridglea steadily declined, leading to a period in the mid-1990s when the historic theater stood vacant. Bank of America planned to buy the building and demolish a portion of it, then backed away, allowing local entrepreneur Jerry Shults to purchase the property last December. Working with Historic Fort Worth, Shults plans to restore the balcony, stage, murals, and terrazzo tile floor and reopen the theater later this year.
Palace of Fine Arts Bernard Maybeck's contribution to the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco—a wondrous assemblage of colonnades, arches, and columns dominated by a massive rotunda—was never meant to last: It was constructed of plaster and chicken wire. The structure nevertheless won a permanent place in the hearts of Bay Area residents, who clamored for its preservation long after the exposition ended. Though the palace was restored in the 1930s and reconstructed in the 1960s, the rotunda's dome leaked and remained vulnerable to earthquakes. The nonprofit Maybeck Foundation worked with the city and other organizations to complete a seven-year, $21 million restoration.
Given Institute Designed in the early 1970s by architect Harry Weese, the University of Colorado Medical Center's Given Institute gave the then-sleepy ski town of Aspen some instant intellectual heft, hosting conferences and retreats for top doctors and medical professionals. The 12,000-square-foot structure sits on desirable lakefront property (valued at about $14 million). In the face of severe budget problems, the university had given a developer the option of purchasing the land to build luxury housing. That deal fell through. But in March, published reports stated that another developer planned to purchase the property and immediately demolish the institute. As of press time, the prospects for preservation appeared dim.
Provo Tabernacle During the early morning hours of Dec. 17, 2010, fire ravaged this 1898 cultural icon in the heart of Provo, Utah. Flames tore through the building, soon overwhelming fire crews and forcing them to retreat. At 6 a.m., the roof collapsed, reducing the historic landmark of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to a brick shell. Designed in the shape of a cross by William Harrison Folsom, a son-in-law of Brigham Young, the Provo Tabernacle took 15 years to complete and featured stained-glass Gothic windows, twin turrets, and a hand-carved rostrum.
Pennington House Built in the 1840s, this Victorian residence in London, Ky., was recently demolished, despite efforts by local preservationists and the National Trust's Southern Office to save it. Construction of the massive Laurel County Judicial Center, dedicated last August, had increased the demand for parking in London's downtown. The county purchased the Pennington House from a local attorney, stipulating that he demolish the residence before the sale went through. Advocates for the historic house lobbied for more time to raise funds for relocation, but demolition proceeded late last year.
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