Preservation Magazine

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.

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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.

Houston Shopping Center Partially Demolished

Posted on: September 5th, 2007 by Margaret Foster

 

River Oaks Shopping CenterIt's a city landmark, but it was partially demolished yesterday. Despite an appeal from National Trust President Richard Moe, the owner of Houston's River Oaks shopping center, Weingarten Realty, bulldozed part of the art deco structure yesterday to make way for a Barnes & Noble.

"Once the demolition started, they didn't waste any time. It was basically finished overnight," says David Bush, director of programs and information at the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance.

Read the back story on Preservation Online >>

Read more about the River Oaks Center >>

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.

 

An online extra: Q & A With Wayne Curtis, author of "Block by Block: wo years after Katrina, a new New Orleans is finally taking shape," in the September/October issue of Preservation magazine.

Q: How have you seen New Orleans change since you moved there last October?

It's been slow. When we were first looking for a house, there were commercial strips where they had boarded up stores like Taco Bell and Rite Aid. They're still pretty bleak, but it doesn't look like a disaster zone anymore; it looks like any other rundown American city. For post-Katrina New Orleans, that's an improvement.

The second anniversary was interesting. People who fly in and don't really know it say it's a mess, but there were a lot of parts that were a mess before the flood. There's the upbeat reporting and the doom-and-gloom reporting. The perception when you talk to people who just read the AP stories is that things are still in horrible shape.

I'm more optimistic, and I think that was reflected in the story. There's a lot happening on the street level, bit by bit. My perception is that it'll take 10 years. If you look at it that way, we're 20 percent through a rebuild, and we're in good shape. There are a lot of [journalists] who are always incensed that the city hasn't rebuilt yet. That's sort of disingenuous because it's only been two years. If you look at it as a 10-to-15-year rebuild arc, things are in pretty good shape.

Read more on Preservation Online >>

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.

"Hawaii's Westminster Abbey" To Add New Building

Posted on: September 5th, 2007 by Preservation magazine 1 Comment

 

Kawaiaha’o ChurchAt the 1842 church known as the Westminster Abbey of Hawaii last month, workers broke ground for a new building beside the National Register-listed church in Oahu.

Kawaiaha'o Church, the first Christian church in Hawaii, will use the new facility in part to expand its homeless outreach program.

"Our membership is largely Hawaiian, and we recognize the needs [for greater homeless services] in some Hawaiian communities," Valerie Lota Trotter, Kawaiaha'o Church treasurer, told the Honolulu Star Bulletin.

Established by New England Protestant missionairies, Kawaiaha'o Church's "bricks" are actually giant slabs of coral hewn from Hawaii's reefs. The church is famous for hosting many Hawaiian alii, or royalty, throughout the 19th century and for holding services in the Hawaiian language.

The $12.7 million project won a $500,000 grant from Save America's Treasures, a public-private partnership between the National Park Service and the National Trust. is scheduled to be completed in October 2008. The two-story building will serve as a  house a bookstore, church archives, meeting rooms, a kitchen, and a mini-museum for the church's historical artifacts.

- Krista Walton

(Updated April 16, 2008 to delete incorrect Save America's Treasures grant information, remove Save America's Treasures tag, and revise planned site use details.)

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 to Raze Estate

Posted on: August 30th, 2007 by Margaret Foster 1 Comment

 

Dunminning Estate’s contents were sold last weekend, and no laws prevent its imminent demolition. (Chris Driscoll)A Pennsylvania developer is preparing to demolish a c. 1897 mansion in Newtown Square, Pa., outside Philadelphia.

At a so-called "pre-demolition sale" last weekend, many of the Dunminning Mansion's interior features, including several of its six mantels, were marked "sold," according to Chris Driscoll, vice president of the Newtown Square Historical Preservation Society, so the 15,000-square-foot mansion's days are numbered. A spokesman for Bentley Homes says it will be razed within 30 days.

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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.