Places Restored, Threatened, Saved, and Lost in Preservation Magazine's Fall 2023 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 2023.
Restored: Lefferts Historic House
Brooklyn, New York’s Lefferts Historic House reopened to the public in August of 2023 after three years of pandemic- and construction-related closure. The 1783 Dutch Colonial farmhouse, originally owned by the borough’s prominent Lefferts family, was moved in 1918 to its current location in Prospect Park, where it became a house museum. More than a century later, the nonprofit Prospect Park Alliance, which operates the New York City–owned site, launched an extensive, publicly funded $2.5 million restoration project. Assya Plavskina, the alliance’s construction supervisor for historic preservation, says that while the house’s original framing remains in good condition, cedar roof shingles added in the 1990s had deteriorated from biological growth.
Crews removed and replaced the shingles and added hidden zinc stripping, which will inhibit future growth. The work also involved replacing some of the original wall shingles and repairing other wall shingles, exterior columns, and windows, as well as adding new mechanical and electrical systems. Extra beams were added to increase visitor capacity. Using private funding, the team conducted plaster restoration throughout some interior exhibit rooms. The restoration coincided with the museum’s reinterpretation plan, ReImagine Lefferts. The goal is to explore the narratives of the people who were enslaved by the Leffertses, as well as those of the Lenape, the Native American people upon whose ancestral lands Prospect Park now sits.
Lost: Hurricane Ridge Day Lodge
The Hurricane Ridge Day Lodge, a longstanding visitors center for a popular destination within Washington state’s Olympic National Park, burned down on May 7, 2023. No aspects of the wood-and-concrete structure, built in 1952, are salvageable, says Amos Almy, Olympic’s acting public information officer. At the time of the blaze, the lodge was undergoing renovations as part of a federally funded, $11 million project to upgrade and weatherproof the facility, so the site had been closed to the public. Fortunately, firefighters responded quickly and prevented the flames from spreading beyond the immediate area.
The cause of the fire is still unknown. Designed by Cecil J. Doty, a prominent National Park Service (NPS) architect, the building represented the Mission 66 program to modernize the parks. Beyond that, it served as a backdrop for lasting experiences for park visitors. “It was a totally shocking, devastating loss,” Almy says. “It was a pretty big hub in the community, and a lot of people had memories there.” The surrounding area and parking lot are again open to the public, though the lack of facilities limits the number of daily visitors. Almy says NPS is committed to building a new structure on the site, though it is too early to say whether it will pay homage to the 1952 building.
Threatened: Sycamore Grove Filling Station
The Sycamore Grove filling station, also known as Outlaw Station, is a striking roadside remnant of the petrified wood–infused architecture that defined Glen Rose, Texas, during the first half of the 20th century. Built around 1929, the ruin once served as a gas station and, later, a speakeasy. According to local legend, various outlaws such as John Dillinger passed through the building, says Ann Carver, the chair of Glen Rose’s Historic Preservation Commission.
But Carver and Jeff Garnett, a Glen Rose–based architect, say it’s the station’s architecture that stands out—because of its beauty and the fact that only a few buildings constructed of petrified wood remain in the city. Sycamore Grove is not in immediate danger, but a letter from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) sent to the property owners in May sparked concern.
TxDOT has proposed a state highway realignment that could entail construction alongside the site. The department tells Preservation that the preliminary design will not affect the station directly, and that it will keep studying any potential impact as the project’s environmental review continues.
Additionally, the department says plans to protect the building during construction will be finalized later. Garnett says he believes TxDOT will do what it can to safeguard the station, but he notes that even if it’s untouched by the construction, increased traffic and vibrations from noise could threaten its long-term stability. “We feel like it’s still in jeopardy,” Carver says.
Saved: Baxter International Campus
Landmarks Illinois named the Baxter International campus in Deerfield, Illinois, to its Most Endangered Historic Places list in May of 2023. The Modernist campus, built in the 1970s and designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (with Bruce Graham as the design partner and Fazlur Khan as the structural partner), is known for its clean lines, its use of glass, and the cable-supported roof of its central facilities building, says Elizabeth Blasius. Blasius, a co-founder of the Chicago-based preservation firm Preservation Futures who has written about the site, describes the building as “almost like a skyscraper but tilted on its side.”
Baxter, a healthcare company, announced plans in January of 2023 to sell its headquarters to Bridge Industrial, a real estate company known for acquiring and developing industrial properties. Bridge was seeking to demolish the existing structures on the campus and redevelop the site into a distribution warehouse facility. Deerfield community members pushed back on that idea, and, in June, Bridge withdrew the petition it had submitted to the village. In September of 2023, Baxter said that Bridge Industrial would not move forward with its development proposal for the property. As of press time, Baxter says it will remain on the site, and Landmarks Illinois considers the campus to be saved.
Saved: Lee Hardware Building
Overland Property Group closed its deal to convert the
long-vacant Lee Hardware building (shown, at center) in downtown Salina,
Kansas, into mixed-use affordable housing in May of 2023. Construction, partly
funded by Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and federal and state historic tax
credits, began in August. Overland had already overseen the transformation of
the adjacent Lee Mercantile building into residential units in 2021. Designed
by JGR Architects, the $12 million renovation of the 1904 Hardware building
will closely follow that of its neighbor, with most of the historic
elements—including the exterior brick, windows, and flooring—remaining intact
or replaced in kind. The apartments will feature high ceilings and exposed
While the Mercantile building contains a mix of affordable and market-rate units, all 50 units in the Hardware building will be reserved for people earning between 30 and 80 percent of the area’s average median income. Based on the success of the Mercantile building, which was entirely leased when it opened and has maintained a full waiting list, Overland’s Austin Kack expects the Hardware building to fill up quickly. In addition to helping address Salina’s housing needs, Kack says the project is helping revitalize the downtown area—fitting given that the buildings’ namesake, the Lee Company, played a major role in the city’s development in the early 1900s. Kack says Overland plans to eventually convert the building on the other side of the Hardware building to complete the project.
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