Best and Worst of 2001

At year's end, Preservation editors selected 10 American happenings, trends, and losses that made news in 2001.

The renovated U.S. Botanic Garden reopened after four years

Credit: USBG

U.S. Botanic Garden, Washington, D.C. Anchored by the reconstructed Palm House, a grand 1930s conservatory, the U.S. Botanic Garden reopened in December after a four-year, $33.5 million renovation. The structure now features a computerized climate-control system to help its 4,000 plants thrive. Established in 1820, the garden was relocated several times before coming to its current site in 1933 at the foot of Capitol Hill.

Mission San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The church ruins and seven other buildings at the Mission San Juan Capistrano are being conserved after years of neglect. Historic Mission San Juan Capistrano is caring for the 225-year-old Orange County complex, deemed the crown jewel of the state's 21 such Spanish colonial compounds. The $20 million project is inspiring statewide efforts to preserve the entire string of these Pacific coast sites.

1957 CIGNA headquarters

Modern Buildings Threatened, including Gordon Bunshaft's Connecticut General Life Insurance Company campus, Bloomfield, Ill.; Ralph Rapson's Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis; Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal at JFK Airport. "No other group of buildings produced in this country has better claim than these monuments of postwar modernism to an exalted place in the history of world architecture," says Professor Robert Bruegmann of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Philadelphia Mass Demolition. An old method of urban renewal—widespread demolition—became new again when Mayor John Street announced his intent to bulldoze some 4,000 deteriorated buildings throughout the city. The Neighborhood Transformation Initiative, which would also stabilize 2,500 properties, aims at netting 16,000 new housing units. With abandonment an enormous problem in this city, even some preservationists support the plan.

St. Charles mosaic

Credit: John Shiflet

Star Hotel, St. Joseph, Mo. Not only had it played a prominent role since 1881 in the city's streetscape, but the St. Charles Hotel also enjoyed a part in the 1973 hit movie, Paper Moon. That distinction was not enough, however, to save the deteriorated building from being razed in June. Closed since 1988, the structure was salvageable, but the funds for renovation were not to be found.

World War II Memorial, Washington, D.C. Lawsuits resolved and court delays exhausted, the sponsors of a memorial to WWII proceeded Aug. 27 with groundwork on the National Mall between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. Opponents attacked the memorial for its design, placement, procedure (compliance with rules for preservation review), and even the German ownership of the memorial's builder. Completion is expected in spring 2004.

Farnsworth House, Plano, Ill. The Illinois legislature appropriated $7-million in June to purchase the vacation villa on the Fox River that Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed for Edith Farnsworth. State ownership means that Mies' world-famous, 2,150-square-foot glass-and-steel raised box will be open to the general public for the first time in its 50-year history.

Kirk Middle School, built in 1930

Kirk Middle School, East Cleveland, Ohio. Preservationists both local and national, along with the National Trust, fought all year to stave off demolition of the Kirk Middle School, a symbol of endangered landmark schools nationwide. The future of the 1930 Georgian revival building looks grim, however. With the local population divided on the issue and the state of Ohio ready to fund a replacement, razing, now in litigation, seems likely.

Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville. The Music City's Depression-era neoclassical post office reopened in April as a place to see traveling exhibits. The new Frist Center fills the neoclassical downtown landmark, bringing together Tennesseeans and art from around the world to a former mail-sorting floor. Tuck-Hinton Architects led the $45 million adaptation/restoration.

Price Tower, Bartlesville, Okla. The 19-story skyscraper, completed in 1956, reopened for tours in February after an 18-month restoration. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the tower as an office building/apartment house for the H.C. Price International Pipeline Co. Phillips Petroleum paid for the project and then donated the building to the Price Tower Arts Center to use for classrooms and galleries.

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