Places Restored, Threatened, Saved, and Lost in Preservation Magazine's Fall 2022 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 2022.
Saved: Lincoln Road Murals
A series of glass mosaic murals on Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road were saved earlier this year, just weeks before demolition of the building they graced. Crafted in 1971 by Enzo Gallo, an Italian-born artist who fled the Mussolini regime for Cuba and later fled the Castro regime for South Florida, the murals include images of the American flag highlighting key moments in its history; a map of Florida; and a depiction of the White House, the United States Capitol, and the Supreme Court building.
Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) Executive Director Daniel Ciraldo says the murals were a tricky case not only because the building sits outside a historic district, but also because the art was placed directly onto the concrete walls, making removal difficult. MDPL rallied to save the artwork, receiving a boost when Gallo’s son, Julio, found historic photos of the murals. As community support increased, the property owners, boutique hotel firm citizenM, concluded that salvaging the murals was worth the time and cost.
CitizenM provided $170,000 for the preservation effort and, with the aid of RLA Conservation (hired thanks to a donation from the younger Gallo), contractors carefully cut the murals into smaller blocks and moved them to a storage site. Ciraldo says the city of Miami Beach has accepted the donation of the artwork and is looking into options for future installment.
Lost: 4th Ave. Theatre
Developer Peach Holdings is demolishing the 4th Avenue Theatre building in downtown Anchorage, Alaska, to make way for a new development. The 1947 single-screen movie theater, which was listed on the National Register in 1982, was the idea of Austin E. Lathrop, a prominent Anchorage entrepreneur who played a key role in Alaska’s 20th-century development. The firm of B. Marcus Priteca, the architect behind Hollywood’s Pantages Theater, designed the reinforced-concrete Art Deco building.
Its architecture was unique and elaborate for its time, says Trish Neal, president of the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation. “It’s iconic to our area,” she adds. Neal says the interior houses artwork depicting the birds and animals of Alaska; the state’s oil and shipping industries; and Denali, the tallest peak in North America. In its heyday, the theater was a place where locals could catch first-run movies, but it hasn’t been an active cinema in several decades, and the entire building—which included Lathrop’s television and radio studios—eventually became vacant.
In public statements, Peach Holdings has said the company considered reuse options in the past, but ultimately argued that the structure’s issues were too numerous and expensive to fix.
The company reportedly intends to save the signage and interior artwork, perhaps incorporating them into the property’s future development. Neal believes the building is still viable for reuse and says Peach Holdings’ plan—even if it includes some elements of the theater—will harm the fabric of Anchorage’s historic downtown.
Restored: Fort Snelling Cavalry Barracks
A rehabilitated 1904 cavalry barracks reopened in May of 2022 on the campus of Historic Fort Snelling in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Now the site of the new Plank Museum & Visitor Center, the formerly disused barracks serves as an education hub where people can learn about the diverse and complex history associated with the site. It sits on a piece of land, Bdote, that is culturally significant to the Dakota people. Enslaved people, including Dred and Harriet Scott, once lived and worked at the fort, and during World War II Japanese Americans trained as translators there.
The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) raised $34.5 million in private and state funding for the rehabilitation project, which also included an update to the site’s landscaping. Kevin Maijala, the senior director of learning initiatives at MNHS, says the organization worked to highlight the barracks’ historic nature by restoring a front porch, exposing original walls and some cooking areas, and preserving as much of the original flooring as possible. The revamped structure also allowed MNHS to implement a new interpretive plan thanks to additional exhibition, event, and classroom space in the barracks.
Restored: South Point Grocery
Memphis, Tennessee, general contractor Tom Archer had been looking to bring a grocery store to the city’s South Main neighborhood for years when he purchased the former Liberty Cash Grocers warehouse in 2016. Archer says his company worked to preserve and reuse as much as possible of the deteriorated 1920 warehouse during the more than $2 million rehabilitation process.
The original property, which had served several purposes over the years, comprised a pair of attached one-story and two-story buildings. The two-story structure’s original exterior brickwork, roof coping, and limestone signage are all intact. While Archer had to tear the one-story section down to make room for parking, his team cleaned and reused the original bricks to replicate its facade as a freestanding wall. They also converted the building’s former loading docks into a front porch.
Archer leased the second floor to a charter school, and after searching nationwide for a tenant for the first floor, eventually connected with Rick James, the owner of multiple Memphis grocery stores. The sides agreed to open a new food business in the revamped building. Starting in 2021, James and his team spent $2.8 million on an interior renovation that retained much of the original exposed brick walls and ceiling. South Point Grocery opened in March of 2022. It’s now a popular food shopping destination that Archer hopes will become, he says, “the heart of the neighborhood.”
Lost: Carbella Bridge
Although it had survived many high waters in its 104-year history, Montana’s Carbella Bridge was brought down by severe flooding that struck areas in and around Yellowstone National Park in June. Spanning the Yellowstone River just north of the park, the 176-foot-long bridge was the last pin-connected structure built in the Treasure State. Its construction marked the end of Montana’s golden age of bridge-building. It also played an important role in the agricultural development of Paradise Valley and helped the surrounding area accommodate more Yellowstone tourists in the early 20th century; in contemporary times, the Carbella Bridge provided locals with access to places where they could buy supplies such as propane.
As of press time, area resident Krista Belanger says its remnants are still sitting in the river, not too far from its original location. “Everyone is getting a little antsy [for the construction of a new bridge to begin],” Belanger says, explaining that the alternate way out of the area is a steep, single-lane dirt road several miles away. People will miss the bridge for more than practical reasons, however. Like many, Belanger drove across it every day in her youth. Other people would come just to admire the historic structure. “I always felt like I was stepping into a time warp into early days of Montana whenever I crossed [the Carbella Bridge],” Belanger says. “That bridge tied our everyday life to the history here.”
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