Preservation Round-Up: Grab Bag Edition

Posted on: June 2nd, 2011 by David Garber

The Golden Building in Dorchester, Boston, as it looked last December. (Photo: Historic Boston, Inc.)

Today's preservation round-up is all about ... wait, scratch that, it's completely all over the place. And that's the beauty of a round-up, right? So, rather than conniving a theme out of a pleasantly diverse set of preservation-related stories, I'm embracing the junk drawer, er, grab bag nature of the following links and splaying them out in no particular order for your casual perusal.

And now, for those patient readers who have - dare I say - deigned to read on, please enjoy the following:

The Golden Building, after its façade restoration. (Photo: Historic Boston, Inc.)

A crowd of nearly one hundred residents, business owners, and activists gathered last Friday to celebrate Historic Boston, Inc.'s completed façade restoration at the Golden Building in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. Located in the Field’s Corner commercial district, the 116-year old building is home to a school and a collection of local businesses.

In New York City, the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) released its final plans for an emergency ventilation plant on a prominent corner right at the heart of the Greenwich Village historic district. Now home to a barbed-wire fenced parking lot, the site is notable for being the home to a makeshift 9/11 memorial of ceramic tiles that hang from the fence, and was also – until recently - widely thought to be the original diner location of Edward Hopper’s famous "Nighthawks" painting. Designs for the subway vent building have taken four years to complete, and the final product will appear as a federal-style brick façade with space at its base for the tile memorial.

Across the East River in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard, advocates for the long-threatened (and crumbling from neglect) Admiral’s Row buildings haven’t been as fortunate. The National Guard Bureau, now in charge of the site, decided last month to not require preservation of two of the buildings – the Timber Shed and Quarters B, claiming they are beyond repair. This decision sparked a flurry of letters from New York senators and congressional representatives asking for preservation. Another letter, from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, noted the importance of preservation for boosting the long-term value and significance of the site:

“The preservation of the Timber Shed and Quarters B will significantly improve the urban design and place-making aspects of the Navy Yard’s proposed development,” wrote the MAS. “The beauty and uniqueness of these historic buildings will make the development a destination, instead of just another mundane big-box development.”

For background on the story, watch this great video about Admiral's Row and its proposed redevelopment.

Down in Washington, DC, researchers at the Imaging Research Center have been meticulously recreating the visual landscape of Washington as it would have looked in its early years. See the video below, and check out their blog, Visualizing Early Washington DC for more great interactive, graphic, and video features.

Over the course of just four weekends, volunteers in San Antonio have done restoration work at 25 homes in the Dignowity Hill historic district. The program, dubbed S.T.A.R. (Students Together Achieving Revitalization), is a new effort by the city’s Office of Historic Preservation to engage architecture students from the University of Texas San Antonio and local contractors to help bring up the historic neighborhoods and homes that need the most help.

While each of the homes may have had a different rehabilitation focus, the before-and-after difference has had a significant impact on the neighborhood. The volunteer group at each house worked on stripping paint and repainting, removing and reconstructing windows, repairing siding and cleaning up the site of overgrown foliage.

Kudos to San Antonio for this great idea!

Last up is a great little blog post called “Five Tips for Designing a Great Grant Facade Program.” One of my favorites:

If funding is limited, consider micro-loan programs for signage only. For $2,500 - $5,000, you can fund attractive signs that make a significant difference to the overall look and feel of the district.

Seriously. It really is the little things like signs that make a huge difference.

David Garber is a member of the Digital and New Media Team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The thought of grab bags reminds him of the prize box his dentist used to let him sift through after a fluoride treatment. Anyone else? Bueller?

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

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