Letters to the Editor

Winter 2014 CoverRead on for a sampling of responses to our Winter 2014 issue.
Please note that letters may be edited for length and/or clarity.

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Dear Mr. Hockman,

My 11-year-old son and I both look forward to receiving our issue of Preservation, and with the winter issue came a special interest in the excellent "Reinvention Revisted" article. In the mid-'80s, I was an undergraduate at St. Louis University, and one year I lived in an apartment complex next door to the "spaceship" building which is mentioned in this article. I have fond memories of midnight burrito runs to the Mexican restaurant which occupied that space in those days, and was pleased to learn of the preservation efforts associated with the building

However, I take issue with the statement that the building "was in a rundown part of town." This may have been true in the '70s and '80s, but over the last 20 years the neighborhood around the SLU campus has undergone a major rejuvenation! SLU has purchased many of the historic buildings which encircled the campus, and has renovated or restored numerous locations which were either abandoned or in disrepair during my days on campus. This continuous effort has been detailed in many issues of the alumni magazine, archived copies of which can be found here: http://www.slu.edu/universitas/universitas-archive. The SLU campus area is now a vibrant neighborhood which boasts an eclectic mix of contemporary and preserved historical buildings, worthy of note from your magazine.

Thank you for continuing your efforts in this important area, and I look forward to continuing our family's support of Preservation.

Best regards,

Steven
St. Louis

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To the Editor:

I read the article in the Winter edition and was a bit surprised that there was no mention of the funding that allowed Columbus, Ind. to have so much incredible architecture. I drove from Washington, D.C. to Columbus just to see the wonderful buildings. It did not disappoint. The family deserves some recognition for the program they initiated to allow all this beautiful architecture in small-town America.

Jon
Fort Myers, Fla.

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Dear Mr. Hockman,

I always look forward to receiving my copy of Preservation. I read your article, "Are You Selling Yourself Short?" with great interest today. In 2012, a beloved project I was working on, with my committee, was highlighted in your magazine (see attached). Since then, a great deal of work has been accomplished, funds raised, and volunteer hours expended to complete our renovation of the Mable Ringling Memorial Fountain in Luke Wood Park (Sarasota, Fla.).

This past Sunday, we held a dedication ceremony to celebrate this community endeavor. We had a great turnout, and prepared a video to capture the 2+ year timeline of all the work that was done to make this a reality. I hope you can take a few minutes to view the efforts that took place in bringing back some of our history. Here is the link: http://youtu.be/q0xQDGPNIFs

Thank you and your organization for continuing the quest of historic preservation in America.

Kindest regards,

Larry, Media Specialist
Sarasota County Historical Resources
Sarasota, Fla.

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Dennis,

I read with interest "Reinvention Reinvented" in the Winter 2014 issue of Preservation. I was disappointed, however, that no mention of how the remarkable assemblage of modern architecture in Columbus, Ind. came to be.

It would have been nice to mention and give credit to J. Irwin Miller and the Cummins Engine Company for providing architectural fees if noteworthy architects were selected for the various projects. It was not accidental or as if by magic ... it occurred because of Mr. Miller's foresight, encouragement, and generosity.

Sincerely,

Fred, Architect
Cos Cob, Conn.

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Dear Mr. Hockman,

I do consider myself to be a "preservationist." No, I am not an architect, structural engineer or a construction contractor, just a passionate advocate for saving our historic buildings and homes where I live. My first effort was in 2005 when I heard that the historic 1828 Singletary House in Streetsboro, Ohio, the city just north of my home in Kent, was being threatened with demolition for a Wal-Mart. I'd read of this home in a book called "Early Homes of Ohio" by I.T. Frary. Its front doorway is particularly unusual enough to be noteworthy enough to have been included in this book. I sprang into action and began calling people in the city government to see what could be done to save it. With the help of the Streetsboro Planning Director, we were able to gather some like-minded folks to find some way to save this house. Thank goodness, someone was able to talk to the Wal-Mart folks, who generously kicked in enough money to save the house. It is now fittingly the home of the Streetsboro Heritage Society.

My next effort is an ongoing one still in progress. Nearly two years ago, I learned of the impending demolition of houses on a soon-to-be vacated street near where I lived for a joint City of Kent-Kent State University project. One house in particular had always caught my eye. Sitting in among obviously early- to mid-20th century homes was a Greek Revival home that seemed downright out of place. I sprang into action and went to the County Recorder's office to do some research that yielded pay dirt -- the house was built in 1858 by and for our city's namesake Kent family and later owned by one of our town's leading citizens of the 19th century who also served in the State legislature. I had my proof, so I took all of my documentation to the City Council and presented it to them. They were suitably impressed enough to consider saving it, but it would mean a huge uphill climb.

In the meantime, I'd been contacted by a historic preservationist architect who was interested in working on the project. The big uphill climb would be finding a suitable reuse for the house and a piece of property to which we could move the house and then securing the funding for all of this. Fortunately, the local bank CEO is also on the Historical Society board and is an avid preservationist himself, so he was able to secure a loan for us to move ahead with the project. A three-month search yielded the right piece of property and the University offered to pay for the move since they were a part of the reason for the house needing to be saved. Once we secured the land and the permits needed, we thought that we had a green light to proceed, but ran into a snag in that a citizens activist group who objected to the property that we bought being used to move the house on to sued us. We were able to move the house temporarily to a small plot of land near where it sat originally and stored it there for a year while we prosecuted the lawsuit, which was finally dismissed this summer. In late September, we moved the house to our land, got it on its foundation and are finishing demolition of modern interior additions to prepare for its restoration. The second floor will be an attorney's office, the ground floor will be public meeting space and art gallery space (and a little section devoted to the house's history) and the basement is probably going to be rented out for commercial space as well.

This morning, the local paper had tragic news on the front page: The historic 1829 Federal style Poe House located between my home town of Kent and the next town over, Ravenna, suffered a devastating fire yesterday. I am wondering if there's any chance to save it at all. It would need to be looked at by a structural engineer and/or an architect, but it's one of the last Federal style houses still standing in the area. Its loss would be devastating to us preservationists. I'm trying to find out what, if anything, can be done.

In the meantime, work continues on the historic 1858 Kent Wells-Sherman House. We hope to have the house completed later this year. Saving this and the Singletary House has been extremely gratifying, and now if I can do something to help save the historic 1829 Poe House after its devastating fire yesterday, then I can chalk up another success story. I'm quite passionate about saving our architectural treasures, and having just retired last month from my 30-year career in a library, now I have time to devote to my efforts.

So I guess that you could say that I come from a family of avid preservationists. You can thank my mom -- she took us to many historic places that were museum villages of restored homes in our area. Living in northeast Ohio's unique Western Reserve afforded us an opportunity to learn a great deal about our architectural heritage. Retirement will afford me so many more opportunities to become more involved in preservation efforts. It's all a matter of choosing your battles and knowing which ones that you can win. Thanks for helping us to save more places in this country. We could not do it without you!

Sally,
Kent, Ohio

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To the Editor:

Joe Nick Patoski's article on south central Texas was a joy to read. Having grown up there, I would like to point out the Town of Castroville, which is on the banks of the Medina River just west of San Antonio. Interstate 90 passes through the center of town.

The earliest homes were built in the 1840s by settlers from the Alsace-Lorraine region of France.

The National Trust of Historical Preservation is a participant in a developing project referred to as the Castro Colonies Living History Center. I have yet to make some sort of contribution (shame on me!).

Forgive me if Mr. Patoski is familiar with the town of Castroville, but was simply constrained from including it in his article. Feel free to forward this email to him. At any rate, I encourage a look into this part of Texas history.

Thank you for your time,

John


 

Dennis Hockman, Editor in Chief
Preservation magazine

National Trust for Historic Preservation
The Watergate Office Building
2600 Virginia Avenue NW
Suite 1000
Washington, D.C. 20037
Preservation_Editor@savingplaces.org