Places Restored, Saved, Threatened, and Lost in Preservation Magazine's Fall 2019 Issue
In each Transitions section of Preservation magazine, we highlight places of local and national importance that have recently been restored, are currently threatened, have been saved from demolition or neglect, or have been lost. Here are five from Fall 2019.
Saved: Foster-Thomason-Miller House
The Foster-Thomason-Miller House in Madison, Georgia, has new owners after 18 years of vacancy. The 1883 house’s design, with ornate frescoed ceilings and hand-carved wood detailing, was likely influenced by Oscar Wilde’s “House Beautiful” lecture. A 2001 fire in the rear kitchen addition caused smoke and water damage throughout the historic interior. Because of this damage and a proposed residential development plan for the property, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation named it one of its 2018 “Places in Peril.” The nonprofit Madison-Morgan Conservancy established an Endangered Properties Revolving Fund in late 2017 and used it to purchase the house in May of 2018, seven months after the fundraising began. Modeled in part after the Georgia Trust’s revolving fund, the now-$1 million fund allows the conservancy to acquire historic structures and threatened landscapes, add provisions that guarantee their protection, and sell them to preservation-minded buyers. The conservancy executed a conservation easement for the house’s exterior and landscape before selling the property to Elizabeth and David Minnix in June. The Minnixes will have three years to restore the property to a habitable condition.
Threatened: Nurses Home, Lake County Tuberculosis Sanatorium
The owners of a former dormitory for nurses at the Lake County Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Crown Point, Indiana, need to raise more than $1 million to complete its adaptive reuse as a multipurpose arts center. The brick Colonial Revival–style Nurses Home, built in 1930, is the last unaltered building of the Sanatorium complex, which opened its first structure in 1925 to treat tuberculosis patients using fresh-air exposure. In 2017, the city of Crown Point agreed to pass ownership of the vacant Nurses Home and nearly 2 acres of land to nonprofit dance company Indiana Ballet Theatre (IBT), which hopes to move into the building, establish a museum room interpreting the site, and lease some of the remaining space to other arts organizations. IBT raised $500,000 to repoint masonry, replace the roof, and perform other exterior repairs in early 2018. However, it will cost about $3.7 million to complete interior repairs. A local bank has offered a $1.7 million loan, but if IBT cannot secure the rest of the funding soon, further deterioration may jeopardize the entire project.
Restored: Swains Lockhouse
After more than a decade of vacancy, Swains Lockhouse in Potomac, Maryland, opened to the public in July as the seventh property in the C&O Canal Trust’s Canal Quarters overnight lodging program. The Swain family and its descendants occupied the 1832 structure for 99 years, working in various roles on the canal before leaving in 2006. The building was selected for rehabilitation in 2016 because of its history and precarious condition; numerous floods over the years had caused critical water damage. Working with the National Park Service, which owns the lockhouse, and other partners, the C&O Canal Trust secured more than $500,000 in public and private funding. It removed layers of non-historic fabric to reveal original schist-and-metagraywacke masonry, replaced the leaking roof, and made the building ADA compliant. New floating vinyl flooring and pressure-treated wood wall framing and joists will mitigate future damage from flooding, and masonry repairs will be done in a later phase of the project. The lockhouse’s interior is furnished to interpret 1916, the year the National Park Service was founded.
Restored: Paris Train Depot
The Paris Train Depot in Paris, Kentucky, reopened as the Trackside Restaurant and Bourbon Bar in December of 2018 following a nearly $350,000 rehabilitation. The 1882 depot had been owned by railroad company CSX Transportation, which gave it to the city of Paris in the early 1970s after closing it to passenger rail service. But CSX reserved its rights to the land beneath the structure and still had the power to revoke the lease with only a month’s notice. As a result, the depot remained largely vacant until Paris native Chris Poynter convinced CSX to sell his family the land in 2017. Supported by around $90,000 in federal and state historic tax credit funding, rehab work began that October—much of it performed by the Poynter family. They replaced rotted wood boards, patched the tin ribbed roof, and repaired the original butterfly canopy. The depot’s once-segregated ticket windows were incorporated into a restaurant booth, and Poynter’s mother, Debbie, researched the depot’s history and time period to select historically appropriate exterior paint colors. The Poynters lease the space to Dottie Spears, who owns and manages the restaurant.
Threatened: First Christian Church
In August, an agreement by First Christian Church of Oklahoma City to sell its main sanctuary and two connected buildings to the Crossings Community Church collapsed, leaving the Googie-style structure facing an uncertain future. Built in 1956, the sanctuary was originally dubbed the “Church of Tomorrow” by former pastor Bill Alexander. The church also served as a disaster relief center for families affected by the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. With its congregation dwindling, First Christian placed the buildings on the market in late 2016, and a buyer intending to demolish emerged. The efforts of city council members, local preservationists, and nonprofits (including Okie Mod Squad and Preservation Oklahoma) led instead to the sale agreement with Crossings this past spring, which included a memorandum of understanding that would have guaranteed the buildings’ safety for as long as either church owned them. But when the estimated cost of repairs and renovations ended up being higher than anticipated, Crossings canceled the deal. First Christian hopes to locate a new buyer but may be forced to accept an offer that does not include similar protections.