December 31, 2014

The Best of Preservation Magazine's Transitions Department: 2014

  • By: David Weible

The beauty of the Treadwell Pump House rivaled that of any other Transitions submission in 2014.
The beauty of the Treadwell Pump House in Juneau, Alaska, rivaled that of any other Transitions submission in 2014.

2014 is sadly -- or mercifully, depending on how you view it -- over. New opportunities, new adventures, and new stories are on the doorstep.

But before we get too excited for our leap into 2015, and the stories that will shape our year in preservation, it doesn’t hurt to take a look back at 2014.

Below, I’ve included some of my favorite pieces from Preservation magazine’s 2014 Transitions department, which catalogues places lost, saved, threatened, or restored from around the country. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Treadwell Pump House
Location: Juneau, Alaska
Issue: Spring 2014
Status at Time of Publication: Saved

Finding Transitions candidates in Alaska is tough, mainly because the weather is tough. There just aren’t that many buildings that can survive up there for more than a few decades. The Treadwell Pump House made it 100 years though, and that was worth memorializing.

Even more impressive was the work of locals to repair its roof and walls, and raise $13,000 for a building that hadn’t been used since 1926. Though it used to supply salt water to one of the world’s largest gold mines, the building now stands as a fitting symbol of the area’s hard scrabble history.

During an October 2013 residency on the streets of New York, Banksy, the world’s most famous street artist, called for the preservation of 5Pointz.
During an October 2013 residency on the streets of New York, Banksy, the world’s most famous street artist, called for the preservation of 5Pointz.

5Pointz Warehouse
Location: Queens, New York
Issue: Spring 2014
Status at Time of Publication: Threatened

The coolest part of 5Pointz -- besides the fact that international artists had been traveling to the “United Nations of Graffiti” since the early ‘90s -- was that it was unlike anything the magazine traditionally covers.

Architectural significance? Zero.

Eligible for the National Register? Nope. (The building was only 30 years old.)

Historical importance -- at least in the traditional sense? None.

But 5Pointz was clearly dripping with cultural value, even if it was painted in aerosol. It represented an entire artistic community that preservation had rarely had anything to do with, but now kind of did. It was about saving a place that mattered to people.

[Ed. note: Read more about the loss of 5Pointz in our recent post, 10 Preservation Wins & Losses in 2014.]

Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital and its supporters have endured a long waiting game to find out the building’s fate.
Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital and its supporters have endured a long waiting game to find out the building’s fate.

Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital
Location: Parsippany, New Jersey
Issue: Winter 2014
Status at Time of Publication: Threatened

Kirkbride buildings were designed to encourage humane and moral treatment of mental patients. Their tiered construction maximized sunlight, fresh air, and privacy.

But this Kirkbride had more going for it than just intriguing design. It hosted a 1947 research project that effectively ended lobotomies. It was part of the setting of Alan Ginsburg’s Kaddish. And it was where Bob Dylan used to meet -- and maybe jam -- with then-patient Woody Guthrie.

Even though we struggled to pin down the future of Greystone before we went to print, the story was a joy -- in no small part because of our well-informed and enthusiastic source, Adam McGovern.

The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument suffers from a lack of adequate funding. The Bureau of Land Management has only been able to survey 8% of its 300,000 acres.
The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument suffers from a lack of adequate funding. The Bureau of Land Management has only been able to survey 8% of its 300,000 acres.

Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument
Location: Central Montana
Issue: Spring 2014
Status at Time of Publication: Threatened

It’s not often we get a chance to feature places that are significant as much for their natural history as for their man-made history. The Missouri Breaks monument contains 300,000 acres of unspoiled prairie and badlands wilderness and the photo we received from the Friends of the Missouri Breaks Monument was so beautiful, we made it a two-page spread.

The monument also includes the only fully preserved stretch of the Lewis and Clark Trail, homesteader cabins, ancient teepee circles, and the site of an 1877 skirmish between the Nez Perce American Indians and the U.S. Army.

The Tangier American Legation in Morocco is a long-standing symbol of American engagement with the Muslim world.
The Tangier American Legation in Morocco is a long-standing symbol of American engagement with the Muslim world.

Tangier American Legation in Morocco
Location: Tangier, Morocco
Issue: Summer 2014
Status at Time of Publication: Threatened

The Tangier American Legation is the only National Historic Landmark on foreign soil, which means it’s likely the only international location I’ll get to write about for the National Trust (the magazine focuses on the U.S. and its territories). At first, our editors weren’t completely sold on the idea, but the history was undeniable.

The building was gifted to the U.S. in 1821 by the Moroccan Sultan Moulay Suleiman, making it the first building the government owned abroad. It played a role in the Allied landing in North Africa in 1942, and helped more than 1,200 Jews escape occupied Europe. Originally an official consulate, it now provides education and recreation for residents of Tangier’s Old City.

David Weible is the content specialist at the National Trust, previously with Preservation and Outside magazines. His interest in historic preservation was inspired by the ‘20s-era architecture, streetcar neighborhoods, and bars of his hometown of Cleveland.

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