Slideshows

Restoration Efforts Continue at New Jersey's Squan Beach Lifesaving Station

Posted on: July 25th, 2012 by David Robert Weible

 

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but 12 years after being purchased by the Borough of Manasquan, New Jersey, the Squan Beach Lifesaving Station is getting closer to being rescued.

 
Beginning in 1848 the newly formed U.S. Lifesaving Service, a precursor to the Coast Guard, began constructing lifesaving stations along the East Coast, West Coast, and Great Lakes to house volunteers, and later, paid employees, along with boats and equipment to aid in the rescue of seamen from sinking vessels. The 1902 Duluth-style structure -- at the time, one of 41 in New Jersey and hundreds nationwide -- represents the third generation of Lifesaving Stations on Squan Beach.

In 1915, the Lifesaving Service became part of the newly formed U.S. Coast Guard. As navigation systems, maritime engineering, and technology improved throughout the 20th century, the beach-launched skiffs of the Lifesaving Service were replaced with long-range Coast Guard vessels and the station transitioned into a Coast Guard communications hub.

 
The structure was decommissioned from service in 1996 and remained vacant until 2000 when efforts by local preservationists and over 2,000 signatures on a petition to save the structure prompted the Borough of Manasquan to purchase it for $1 and set a bond to raise an initial $300,000 for its restoration.

Efforts by the Squan Beach Lifesaving Station Preservation Committee ginned up additional funding for the project, including a $450,000 matching grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust.

 
Restoration work began in December of 2006 with the removal of asbestos. Since then, efforts have focused on the first floor and included reviving the original paint schemes, refurbishing the hardwood floors, and replacing the windows.

The floor of the boat room was also raised and leveled to match the rest of the house and its bay doors were either restored or replaced. Finally, cedar shakes were installed on the exterior.

 
Still, there is plenty of work left to be done. The next step in the process is the removal of the lead-based paint that covers the porches and trim of the entire structure. After that, the roof is in dire need of replacement and the second floor remains gutted.

In the meantime, the community is making use of the structure as a community meeting place and office for the Manasquan Borough historian. The structure also houses a small museum demonstrating the area’s connection with the sea and displaying photos, prints, and objects recovered from local waters by divers. Plans are in the works to expand the museum to include a tribute to the Coast Guard and Lifesaving Service veterans who were stationed there.

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.

David Robert Weible

David Robert Weible

David Robert Weible is an assistant editor at Preservation magazine. He came to DC from Cleveland, Ohio, where he wrote for Sailing World and Outside magazines.

[Slideshow] Detroit's Valentine Distilling Co.

Posted on: July 6th, 2012 by David Garber 6 Comments

 

Last week I spent a few days in the preservationist mecca of Detroit, Michigan. I'll touch on some of my other preservation-related visits on the blog next week, but first -- a photo tour of Valentine Distilling Co., a company we highlighted last year because of owner Rifino Valentine's decision to locate his business in an old building.


The exterior of the Valentine Distilling Co., which has had a number of auto and industrial uses over the past 80 years.

So, like any good reporter, I figured I should stop in for a follow-up -- mostly, I'll admit, because I thought it was a cool company in a cool building, and I wanted to learn more about the distilling process. When I got there, I was greeted by Rifino and his dog, Sherbet, both of whom led me on a tour of the building.

The last user of the c. 1928 one-story brick building was a pool table manufacturing company, so turning it into a distillery was kind of keeping it in the family. And although records of previous tenants are thin, there's evidence that the building was used as an automobile repair shop before that.

 
The building's industrial feel is carried into the interior decor. Even where walls didn't exist previously, Rifino was careful to use bricks, blocks, and windows salvaged from demolished Detroit buildings.

Check out the above slideshow for more of my tour through Valentine Distilling Co., and if they don't already, ask your local bars to consider stocking the preservation-friendly Valentine Vodka. Remember, preservation is just as much about keeping sustainable uses in old and historic buildings as much as it is the process of saving those places in the first place. Cheers!

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.

 

It's the week of the Fourth of July, which means that we're dreaming in red, white, and blue, and thinking about flags, fireworks, and freedom. And maybe it's the fire engine red, or their symbol of civic heroism, but there's just something about fire houses that screams America. Add in a "rising from the ashes" story line and it's kind of the American preservation/restoration/rebuilding dream. Enter Fire Station No. 6 in Houston, Texas.

 
Built in 1903 (see "before" pictures above), No. 6 is located on Washington Avenue in Houston's Sixth Ward neighborhood -- a story of regeneration in itself, but still dotted with auto lots, empty storefronts, and untended buildings. When Tom Hair, founder of communications and marketing firm Axiom, was looking to buy a property to house his growing company, he wanted a space that reflected Axiom's creativity and energy. He found it in the then-dilapidated Fire Station No. 6.

Although the brick exterior was still in decent shape and structurally sound, the windows were rotten and the building needed a full roof replacement, as well as restoration work on the metal shingles and cornices.

 
Today, Fire Station No. 6 is a beacon for historic adaptation done right. The exterior gleams, and the interior feels fresh but still retains elements of the historic building -- like a brass fire pole that's available for use by the firm's employees. The building has marks of of the past -- exposed bricks, restored columns, and old photos splashed across the walls -- while still accommodating the needs and styles of a modern work space.

Owner Tom Hair is rightfully proud of his work: "We have one of the few buildings that has been restored to its original presence on Washington Avenue." Kudos on a job well done, and let's hope that as the neighborhood develops, the number of restorations only continues to grow.

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.

 

As a social network, Twitter is a celebration of real-time human experience. It's ephemeral: Messages come and go as the Twitter feed updates, and news and messages sink to the bottom of the screen -- and the reader's consciousness -- within a matter of seconds. The social media network seems to be built on the idea that what's happening is valued above what happened, and that new is more important and relevant than old.


The planted roof deck of Twitter's new headquarters inside the 1939 Merchandise Mart building.

Which is why Twitter's real-life move to the 1939 Art Deco San Francisco Merchandise Mart building in the city's up-and-coming Mid-Market neighborhood, instead of something more UFO-like in the middle of Silicon Valley (see Apple's proposed new headquarters), is a pleasant surprise. With the move, Twitter is helping to prove that being on the cutting edge doesn't have to mean "out with the old," and that where we've been -- architecturally, historically -- is as relevant as where we're going.

According to Ed Axelsen, Twitter's Director of Facilities:

"A revitalized building like SF Mart offered Twitter several key advantages: it's centrally located for public transportation; the building has lots of light, it has huge floor plates, it offered the possibility of outdoor space; and perhaps most appealing, it's an historic building that is being revitalized for modern use."

Check out their new old building in the slideshow below. As you can see, they've adapted the interior to fit their brand -- dynamic, fun, and innovative -- while acknowledging the critical importance of urban and historic context for moving modern communication, their company, and this corner of San Francisco forward.

(All photos by Troy Holden / @Twitter on Flickr)

Editor's note: This seems as good a time as ever to remind you that, yes, the National Trust is on Twitter! Follow us at @PresNation.

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.

DC Celebrates 25 Years of the 11 Most List

Posted on: June 7th, 2012 by David Garber

 

Yesterday evening -- just a few hours after announcing our 2012 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places -- a crowd of about 150 people gathered at the Fathom Gallery on 14th Street, NW (just across from our Restoration Diary project) to celebrate the past 25 years of saving places using our 11 Most list as a platform. It was also the coming out party for our new brand, and a time to hear from people in a variety of fields about the ways they are working to "save places" across DC. There was a hashtag, National Trust swag, music, and refreshments. In short, it was a party for preservation.


Left to right: A guest fills in one of her favorite places in DC; National Trust all-stars Jason and Jessica pose for the cameras; Living Social's Aaron Rinaca chats it up after his talk.

One of the coolest elements of the party was the program. National Trust President Stephanie Meeks spoke briefly about the 11 Most program and premiered our new video that celebrates its last 25 years. Then a lineup of five speakers spoke for only a few minutes each.

There were representatives from Popularise -- the online tool for communities to crowdsource ideas for old buildings, Living Social -- which chooses to locate their offices in older buildings across the world, ARCH Development -- a non-profit using arts and events to draw people into DC's Anacostia neighborhood, Capital Pixel -- a rendering company that uses imagery to inspire restorations of old houses, the Rainbow History Project -- which produces maps and walking tours of historic LGBT sites around the city, PGN Architects -- a firm that is working on a number of adaptive reuse projects, and Dupont Underground -- a team of people collaborating to bring new life to an abandoned streetcar tunnel.

 
Nikki Peele, the speaker from ARCH Development, communicated the room's common passion well when she noted that "historic places are the bookmarks of our story." Considering the young and diverse audience at the party, it appears the book on preservation in America is still very much being written.

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.