Preservation Magazine


Brooklyn’s view (Municipal Art Society of New York)"To get a true feeling of New York's industrial, 19th-century waterfront, you really have to go out to Brooklyn —specifically, Red Hook. … One is privileged to see the little canal, the fishing boats, the warehouses, all as it must have been forever, or at least the past hundred years. The factories and warehouses on the canal have that brilliantly additive, piece-by-piece, higgledy-piggledy look of tropical green stucco alongside corrugated aluminum that Frank Gehry works so hard to achieve." —Phillip Lopate, Waterfront


It wasn't long ago that Brooklyn's East River coastline, from the Newtown Creek on the Queens border to Red Hook, was considered no-man's land, with aging infrastructure and unsightly power stations marring its shores. After their heyday during the early 20th century as the nucleus of the manufacturing and shipping industries in New York City, these riverside areas were largely ignored by developers and city officials. The seven-mile sliver, just a stone's throw from Manhattan, became home to artists and a handful of intrepid, out-of-the-box thinkers.


Then, in the 1990s, real-estate prices in the borough climbed to mesmerizing heights and a debate ensued, no longer over whether the area had potential, but how to extract the most bang for the buck. All along the waterfront, it now feels as if a ship is setting sail and no one wants to be left behind.


"We're headed toward a rapid takeover by everyone who wants a piece [of land] for themselves," says David Sharps, owner of the Waterfront Museum since 1994, housed on a historic barge docked in Red Hook.


Should the historic warehouses and docks, many of which date back to the Civil War, make way for big-box stores (a relatively new trend in Brooklyn), high-rise housing or parks? Should they be repurposed or preserved? The city's answer is a complicated balancing act between the needs for jobs, housing, and preservation.


"There has been a failure to protect the maritime infrastructure," says Lisa Kersavage, historic preservation fellow at the Municipal Art Society of New York. "So much development is happening; historic resources need to be considered." Because of these changes, the National Trust for Historic Preservation in June named Brooklyn's industrial waterfront one of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in America.... 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.

Volunteers Help Restore 18th-Century House

Posted on: September 13th, 2007 by Margaret Foster


The Hasbrouck House, built by Huguenots in 1721.The bulging wall of a 1721 house in New Paltz, N.Y., has been repaired with the help of preservation-minded volunteers.

Last month, volunteers from a French group and two U.S. nonprofits re-plastered the repaired wall of the Jean Hasbrouck House, which has been open as a public museum since 1899.

The wall repair project won a $250,000 matching grant from Save America's Treasures, a partnership between the National Park Service and the National Trust, in 2003. Two years later, workers began shoring up the wall as part of a complete restoration.

The Hasbrouck House is one of a collection of stone houses built by 12 French Huguenot families who founded New Paltz in 1678, now part of a National Historic Landmark district.

The seven volunteers found their way to the house through the Heritage Conservation Network, based in Boulder, Colo., New York-based Preservation Volunteers and the 100-year-old French organization REMPART.

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.

Omaha Goes to the Mattresses

Posted on: September 12th, 2007 by Margaret Foster 1 Comment


Omaha’s Old Mattress Factory Bar and GrillWhen the artists moved out of a 124-year-old warehouse in Omaha, a restaurant moved in. The Old Mattress Factory Bar and Grill, under restoration now, will open in the two-story building in November.

“Watching it transform into the bar and grill has been fascinating, and it will hopefully be a popular destination for Omaha residents and visitors as well,” Jenny Peters, spokesperson for the investors, said in an e-mail.

The 16,000-square-foot building began as a 3,500-square-foot grocery store in 1883, when Omaha was still a growing railroad town. Stabrie Grocery closed in 1894, and several bars and saloons inhabited the building until 1915, when the building became a wholesale grocer's warehouse. The Central Mattress Co. occupied the building from 1945 to 2001, when it housed an art studio.

Its new owners, local investors, hope to get the building listed on the National Register, which would help finance the $1.8 million project with tax credits. A hearing with the state historic preservation office is scheduled for Sept. 21.

"There is a surge of redevelopment in urban areas across the nation that have been neglected since the 1960s, especially in the Midwest," says architect Chris Jansen of Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture, which is overseeing the project.

The restaurant will have a warehouse look. "The building will keep its heavy timber framing and masonry, and even the original signage will remain," Jansen says. - Leah Webster

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.

Demolition Process Begins on Ohio Codebreaker Building 26

Posted on: September 11th, 2007 by Margaret Foster


NCR Building 26The Ohio building that was the headquarters for codebreakers during World War II is coming down.

The University of Dayton is moving forward with its plans to redevelop the 11-acre riverfront site. Workers began removing crown moulding, limestone art deco details, and bricks from Building 26 last week; the university will donate them to Dayton History for a future exhibit in a nearby park. Building 26 will be gone by early 2008, according to university spokeswoman Teri Rizvi.

"When it became clear that the building was coming down, our board wanted to make sure that the story wasn't lost," said Brady Kress, CEO and president of Dayton History, in a statement. "We want people to understand, remember, and get excited about the kind of world-changing events that happened in Dayton, Ohio."

In 1943, National Cash Register Company engineers led by Joseph Desch invented the machine that broke the Enigma code.

The state office of historic preservation ruled in May that a steel facade added to the sandstone building made it ineligible for the National Register of Historic Places, paving the way for the university to move forward with demolition.

Because the National Cash Register Company's 50-acre parcel is considered a brownfield, a Clean Ohio Revitalization fund grant is funding the $2.5 million project.

According to a university-commissioned study by Martin-Beachler Architects, it would cost $3 million to demolish the three additions to Building 26 and restore its original art deco facade.

"I respect the passion of those who wanted to save the building," Daniel Curran, University of Dayton president, said in a statement. "I also appreciate the support of others who recognized that this building lost its historical integrity decades ago and know that as a tuition-driven university, UD cannot justify spending millions of dollars to save it."

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.

Developer Damages Pennsylvania Farmhouse

Posted on: September 11th, 2007 by Margaret Foster


East Brandywine’s 200-year-old farmhouseA 200-year-old Pennsylvania farmhouse that was supposed to be incorporated into a new housing development is gone, despite a developer's promise to save the William Moore House.

Pulte Homes used a track hoe to remove part of the stone house last month, severely damaging it in the process.

Now the planning commission of East Brandywine may require Pulte to rebuild the damaged farmhouse.

Pulte's signed agreement with the township, a settlement to approve the 1,029-house development, stated that the farmhouse would have become part of a clubhouse for the Applecross golf course. In the agreement, the company said it would preserve the foundation and 35 percent of the first and second floors of the building, and the township approved the partial demolition plan.

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.

Winging It in Buffalo: The city unveils a plan to take down its white elephants

Posted on: September 7th, 2007 by Preservation magazine


Downtown Buffalo’s gemsThere is no denying that Buffalo has seen better days. In the past 50 years, the city has lost some of its key industries, and, consequently, nearly half of its population. The result: tens of thousands of abandoned buildings.

Last July, Barbara Reed, the mother of a firefighter who was seriously injured while putting out an arson fire, wrote a letter to the Buffalo News offering a "mother's cure" for the problem: Take Down a House. She challenged the citizens of Buffalo to donate their own money to tear down the houses that the city could not afford to demolish. "I'm angry as to why this had to happen," she writes. "The equation is simple. Old houses plus fire (arson) equals potential danger and tragedy."

Reed's letter gives a voice to some residents' overwhelming sense of frustration as the city has grappled to find a solution to the problem. Since 1995, the city has demolished nearly 5,000 abandoned structures in an effort to curb blight and arson, but it estimates that there are as many as 10,000 more that need to be demolished.

Last month, the city announced a "Five by Five" program it hopes will bring its vacancy rate closer to five percent within five years by demolishing 1,000 buildings a year, a rate close to three demolitions a day.

... 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.