March 4, 2016

Heart Bombs 2016: Feeling the Love for Historic Places

  • By: Filip Mazurczak
Heart Bombing the Ballard Bell Tower in Seattle, Washington.

photo by: Brooke Best

Heart bombing the Ballard Bell Tower in Seattle.

In what has quickly become an annual tradition, we at the National Trust for Historic Preservation invited readers of to tangibly show their love for historic places by making valentines for them.

As a result, we received many submissions from our readers who used their artistic talents to show that they care about historic places, both threatened and not. From a century-old castle in Pennsylvania fashioned after European models to an abandoned retro 1950s gas station in Indiana, our submissions encompass all regions and architectural styles. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite examples.

Heart bombing the Cuneo Hospital.

photo by: Melanie Eckner

Making valentines for Cuneo Hospital in Chicago.

Cuneo Hospital–Chicago, Illinois

Cuneo Hospital was a place of devotion and service donated to the Uptown community during the Great Depression. The founder's deed required that 20% of beds be reserved for charity cases. The buildings that stand today were created during other times of urgent urban need—the crystalline modernist hospital originally conceived as a children's hospital during the 1950s postwar era and the innovative long-term care facilities were added when Uptown was Chicago's most aged community in the 1970s.

The architecture of Edo Belli and his firm Belli & Belli did everything it could to integrate with neighboring Clarendon Park. Cuneo Hospital's day-lit design and giant roof decks promoted the same goals of health and happiness through private philanthropy that had once heralded the creation of that municipal neighbor and presaged the arrival of the sustainable, participatory design we seek in community projects today. The best part is that even if people do not know the unique history of Cuneo Hospital or even anything about architecture at all, they somehow feel that Cuneo Hospital and Clarendon Park are wonderful places worth their love!”

Heart bombing the Polk Community Building in Greenwood, Indiana.

photo by: Jennifer Hollingshead

At present, the Polk Community Building in Indiana is looking for a new owner.

Polk Community Building–Greenwood, Indiana

“Supporters of Restore Old Town Greenwood, Inc., came out to heart bomb the Polk Community Building in Greenwood, Indiana, on February 21st. This building was built by the family of James T. Polk and opened in 1920 to serve the community. It held the Greenwood library, kindergarten classes, a 500-seat auditorium, a gym, and a swimming pool. In 1986, the building was renovated, after which it was used as a city hall until 2015 when city offices were relocated. Currently, this building sits empty while the City of Greenwood is looking for a buyer."
Heart bombing a historic gas station in Muncie, Indiana.

photo by: Raina Regan

This abandoned retro gas station is the last of its kind in downtown Muncie.

Historic Gas Station–Muncie, Indiana

“A coalition of young preservationists from Preserve Greater Indy, Muncie’s Historic Preservation and Rehabilitation Commission, and students from Ball State’s Historic Preservation Program heart bombed four sites in Muncie ideal for adaptive use, including the darling mid-century modern gas station on South Madison Street, the last of its kind in downtown Muncie. At the modest size of 1,400 square feet, this gem, which is currently for sale, could have many new uses. With remarkable integrity, this historic gas station is a major asset for downtown Muncie. Other heart bomb sites included the Kitselman Mansion, former Rainbow Cathedral, and an endangered section of brick pavers on Powers Street. We hope all of these sites will be preserved and repurposed as part of revitalization efforts in Muncie.”
Basila Frocks

photo by: Rachel Delgado

Basila Frocks was a garment factory. One of the heart bombers in the photo worked there six decades ago.

Basila Frocks–San Antonio, Texas

"Built in 1929, Basila Frocks was a garment factory in San Antonio's Westside. The first floor was retail. Businesses ranged from a Chinese grocery, shoe store, VFW post, nightclub, restaurant, and more. This building is especially dear to me because my mom worked at Jay Ann Mtg. My sister and I had the prettiest dresses. The income from that job helped our parents build our home.

Our Valentine is from Mary Elizabeth Martinez, Juanita Delgado, and Rachel Delgado. Juanita is 100 years young and worked there in the mid-1950s."

Heart bombing the Conrad-Caldwell House Museum.

photo by: Kate Meador

The Conrad-Caldwell house includes many Revivalist features, from gargoyles to stained glass.

Conrad-Caldwell House Museum–Old Louisville, Kentucky

“The Conrad-Caldwell House Museum is located in the heart of Old Louisville, Kentucky, in a beautiful courtyard neighborhood at the center of one of the largest collections of Victorian architecture in the United States. One of the finest examples of a residential Richardsonian Romanesque building, it is a masterpiece of Louisville architect Arthur Loomis. Completed in 1895, it is known for its beautiful woodwork, parquet floors, stained glass, and limestone exterior; it is covered with gargoyles, massive archways, and intricate architectural designs. The staff, board members, and volunteers love this structure because it is a beautiful family home. Everyone who walks in the door feels as if the family just left. It is a warm and inviting place to be not only because of its beauty and history, but also because of the myriad people who lovingly care for it and give it life.”
Heart bombing the Huntridge Theatre in Las Vegas, Nevada.

photo by: Melissa Clary

Although the Huntridge Theatre has been vacant for a decade, local preservationists are fighting for its restoration.

Huntridge Theater–Las Vegas, Nevada

“We are proud to have participated in the historic preservation movement #iheartsavingplaces this year as part of our work for the historic Huntridge Theatre in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. Built in 1943-44 and opened on October 10, 1944, this historic theater has sat vacant for more than a decade. Our nonprofit has been advocating for the theater's preservation and is actively working to restore it to its former glory. We worked with various classes from the Discovery Charter School and Crestwood Elementary School to craft Valentine hearts for the theater's 2016 Heart Bomb.”

The church atop the Buckingham Mountain Preserve.

photo by: Katelyn Haggar

A church stands at the top of the hill at the Buckingham Mountain Preserve.

Buckingham Mountain Preserve–Buckingham, Pennsylvania

“Buckingham Mountain Preserve is an 87-acre Heritage Conservancy property in Buckingham, Pennsylvania, that provides wooded habitat to abundant wildlife. Atop the hill sits a Methodist Episcopal church built in 1835, teeming with urban legends and anomalies. As a home to wildlife and wild stories, what's not to love?

Heritage Conservancy [also] ‘hearts’ Hart's Woods Preserve in Doylestown, Pennsylvania! Hart's Woods is a 20-acre preserve that features a tree-lined trail abundant with gigantic tulip poplar trees. These woods are home to trees that have stood tall for 200 years old, and continue to stand for the community to love and appreciate.

We at Heritage Conservancy love our headquarters at Aldie Mansion in Doylestown, Pennsylvania

[too]. Built in 1927, Aldie has been host to many interesting and important people over the years, including a performance by the Von Trapp family. At Aldie Mansion, Heritage Conservancy spreads the love through continuing the preservation and protection of significant open spaces, natural resources, and the historic heritage of Bucks County, Pennsylvania.”

A second photo of Fonthill Castle heart bombed.

photo by: Eryn Boyce

Fonthill Castle was designed by Henry Chapman Mercer, a non-architect influenced by the castles he had seen during travels to Europe.

Fonthill Castle–Doylestown, Pennsylvania

“Built between 1908 and 1912 for the noted archaeologist, historian, and tile maker Henry Chapman Mercer, Fonthill Castle is one of the oldest reinforced concrete houses constructed in the United States. At its heart, Fonthill Castle is about creativity and inspiration. Mercer, who had designed Fonthill Castle himself despite lacking formal architectural training, followed an unusual path when he created the house.

For inspiration, he drew on his memories of the medieval castles he had seen while traveling through Europe; eighteenth and nineteenth-century prints from his extensive collection; and his own imagination. He adorned the house with tiles manufactured at his Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, recycled doors repurposed as paneling, a collection of 6,000 books, and an eclectic collection of tools and artifacts.

The end result was a highly personal building that reflected Mercer's enduring love of history and his desire to connect the past with the present. Today, visitors marvel at its maze-like interior; the rich tapestry of Moravian and foreign tiles that adorn its walls; floors, ceilings, and columns; and Mercer's artistic vision. After all, who doesn't want to live in their own castle?”

A heart bomb at the Chong Wa Hall in Seattle.

photo by: Brooke Best

The heart bombed sites in Seattle included Chong Wa Hall.

Multiple Sites–Seattle, Washington

“Over 50 people enjoyed local libations, behind-the-scenes tours, and live music while crafting homemade valentines for historic places that matter! Click here to see our Facebook post, which includes lots of cool pictures of folks getting crafty with construction paper and glitter glue.

Attendees professed their love for places throughout the city including Georgetown's City Hall, Panama Hotel, Chong Wa Hall, Lincoln Park’s Coleman Pool, Queen Anne High School, Ballard Bell Tower, the Seattle Space Needle, and Pacific Science Center. One Valentine incorporated pistachio shells, with the message ‘I'm nuts for preservation,’ and another proclaimed: ‘Columbia City is the bomb!’

Members of the Ballard Historical Society made valentines for the Ballard Bell Tower, choosing it as a ‘symbol of what can come from a space that did not actually manage to get wholly saved. In this case, it is the Ballard Town Hall, which originally housed the bell and was razed after two earthquakes left it unstable.’ They ‘wanted to underscore how important it is to take care of our past’ due to the fast-paced changes in their neighborhood!

Cara Bertron professed her love of Chong Wa Hall, located in Seattle’s ID/Chinatown neighborhood: ‘I *heart* Chong Wa Hall because it helps preserve Chinatown ID culture with language classes, Chinese Girls Drill Team, dragon dance, opera, citizenship classes, and more! It's a tremendous community resource in a beautiful building.’”

Keep an eye out next week for some of our favorite #iheartsavingplaces shots from Instagram!


Filip Mazurczak was an editorial intern at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He previously worked as a freelance journalist, translator, and editor. He is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

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