Author Archive

Post Office May Sell Historic Washington Branch

Posted on: January 24th, 2008 by Preservation magazine 1 Comment

 

Port Townsend, Wash.The appearance of the Port Townsend, Wash., Post Office has changed very little since it opened in 1893. While standing in line today, locals still enjoy the unevenly worn marble floors, carved sandstone exterior and an unobstructed view of Port Townsend Bay.

Now the U.S. Postal Service wants to sell the building, a popular gathering place, and buy or build a new facility.

The oldest federally constructed post office in Washington state, and the only example of Richardson Romanesque design in a federal building in Washington, it was constructed as the "Customs House" and intended to monitor shipping traffic. Today, the U.S. Customs Service still maintains an office there, even though the ports of Seattle and Tacoma have long since eclipsed Port Townsend, population 8,500.

The post office has undergone several modifications in its 115 years, but it has never been made accessible to people with disabilities. ... Read More →

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.

11 Most Endangered Update: H. H. Richardson House Has a New Owner

Posted on: January 18th, 2008 by Preservation magazine

 

H.H. Richardson HouseMore New Orleans than New England, a 204-year-old house with a two-story veranda stands out in suburban Boston. The house at 25 Cottage Street in Brookline, Mass., is not one that a casual observer might link with the work of Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886), one of America's most important 19th-century architects. It was in this Federal-style house that Richardson spent the most productive years of his career, from 1874 to his death in 1886, designing masterpieces such as Boston's Trinity Church, which he could see from the house.

After being on the market for seven years, the house found a new owner last month. "I don't like to think what damage the house would incur if it were left unprotected another year," says Allan Galper, chair of the three-year-old Committee to Save the H.H. Richardson House. "We're glad a buyer has been found."

On Dec. 5, the H. H. Richardson Trust bought the property for $2.2 million. "It is an honor to have this opportunity to restore a precious piece of American history," said Michael Minkoff, a spokesman for that trust and owner of Washington, D.C.-based National Development Corp., in a statement. Minkoff has restored historic buildings in New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C., according to the Jan. 10 statement.... Read More →

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.

Copper Boom Takes its Toll on Historic Buildings

Posted on: January 11th, 2008 by Preservation magazine 1 Comment

 

Waterbury City HallIt's an all-too-common predicament for historic structures: widespread vandalism, which can derail an already-tenuous preservation plan. In Camden, N.J., an 80-year-old Greek revival Sears, Roebuck & Co. building is facing demolition this year. Abandoned for several years, the building has been broken into several times, much of its copper piping stripped away and many of its rooms now pockmarked, exposed to the elements.

Likewise, the city hall of Waterbury, Conn., has long been at the receiving-end of theft and trespassing. Three years ago, vandals entered the 90,000-square-foot building—designed by Cass Gilbert, the architect behind the Supreme Court headquarters in Washington, D.C.—and opened a water valve on its fourth floor, flooding the structure thoroughly and rendering it uninhabitable. Last year thieves removed a six-foot-long piece of copper pipe, causing significant water damage to the basement and complicating the city's proposed renovation.

It's a disturbing trend, one that thwarts the aims of preservation: Uninhabited historic structures, caught in a limbo-like state amid the preservation vs. demolition debate, are increasingly vulnerable to disrepair and theft, particularly in the light of a booming metal-scrap market.

Money Talks

In recent years, the demand for copper has substantially increased, largely from tech-centric importers like China and India, and scrap metal is now one of America's most lucrative exports. While copper is neither a precious metal nor an energy source, its conductivity makes it ideal for myriad technological and industrial uses. Smelted-down copper fixtures can be formed into wires and rods, key components of most electrical items. Scrap dealers typically pay between $3.30 and $3.80 per pound, or more than $8,000 per metric ton for the metal. The large, heavy copper pipes found in public buildings, such as civic or commercial structures, draw a high price from both legitimate and black-market metal dealers.... Read More →

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.

Best & Worst of 2007

Posted on: December 28th, 2007 by Preservation magazine 1 Comment

 

Is Brooklyn Under Siege?Is preservation becoming more hip? This year, celebrities like Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and Darryl Hannah showed their support of historic architecture and wide open spaces. Longtime building buffs like Diane Keaton, who likes to restore Los Angeles houses, were joined by fellow showbiz types like director Michael Moore, who has promised to rehab a historic Michigan theater.

Here's the best and worst in the world of historic preservation news of 2007, compiled by our magazine editors.

Best

Floodwaters Spare Farnsworth House

A few weeks after Brad Pitt's August visit to the iconic Farnsworth House, floodwaters reached the front steps of the Plano, Ill., house designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1951. Miraculously, only the landscape suffered damage.... Read More →

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.

Oregon Railroad Tries to Get Back on Track

Posted on: December 7th, 2007 by Preservation magazine

 

Mt. Hood RailroadFor a century, the sturdy little Mount Hood Railroad carried lumber, fruit, and passengers through Oregon's Hood River valley, 60 miles east of Portland. But a year ago, disaster struck. November rainfall, surpassing 15 inches, broke records. Part of Mount Hood's Eliot Glacier broke away, releasing torrents that poured off the mountain and damaged local trails, roads, and bridges—and the railroad. The force of the floodwaters literally changed the course of the Hood River at milepost 15, leaving 150 feet of track hanging in the air.

"The track is in place, but there's no land under it. It looks like a suspension bridge," says the railroad's general manager Michelle Marquart. For the past year, the railroad company has been working with an engineering firm to get planning and permitting in place to restore the tracks. "We have a very solid plan, but it is a very expensive plan," says Marquart.... Read More →

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.