Places Restored, Threatened, Saved, and Lost in Preservation Magazine's Spring 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 Spring 2023.
Restored: Nowland Avenue Bridge
When Laurie Klinger and her neighbors started raising funds in 2018 to repair a deteriorating Beaux-Arts bridge in Indianapolis’ Spades Park, their reasons were practical—it was becoming unsafe to run or walk their dogs across the structure. But they soon discovered it was also a historically significant piece of architecture. Designed by Daniel B. Luten and built in 1903, the concrete Nowland Avenue Bridge is believed to be the prolific Indianapolis-based engineer’s oldest remaining bridge in the city. It’s characterized by the “Luten arch,” a unique method of bridge stabilization.
Klinger and her allies formed the nonprofit Pathways Over Pogue’s (POP) and eventually matched a $30,000 grant from the Central Indiana Community Foundation, thanks to private donations and grants from other local nonprofits, including Indiana Landmarks.
Architecture and engineering firm RQAW completed the evaluation and design phases in 2019 before pandemic-related delays put the restoration on hold. POP later secured up to $600,000 from a federal Community Development Block Grant, plus a commitment from the city to cover any overage fees. Work on the $1.1 million project was underway by 2022. Though there are slight differences from Luten’s design, such as the color of the bridge (due to anti-graffiti coating) and the addition of an ADA-compliant handrail, RQAW matched the original as closely as possible. POP and the city plan to host a grand reopening in the spring of 2023.
Lost: Columbia Hospital
Demolition of Milwaukee’s original Columbia Hospital building, a 1919 brick structure, began in 2022. The oldest of several buildings on the former medical campus was architecturally and historically significant, says former Milwaukee Preservation Alliance Executive Director Jeremy Ebersole. Schmidt, Garden & Martin designed it in the Georgian Revival style, and it also played a pioneering role in medical research in the city during the 20th century.
The building had not been used for patient-related activities for at least 10 years when the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) purchased it in 2010. Initially intent on renovating and reusing the structure, the university believed it would be a great fit for housing health and science departments. After evaluating the conditions, however, the state institution concluded an adaptive reuse project wasn’t financially feasible. “We didn’t come to the decision lightly,” says Melissa Spadanuda, UWM’s associate vice chancellor of facilities planning and management. “It took many years to get to this place.”
While the university hopes to convert three hospital additions into academic buildings, it will replace the original structure with green space. The Milwaukee Preservation Alliance pushed to preserve the hospital, working with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the city designated the building a local landmark. But a county judge rejected the city’s request to halt demolition in October of 2022.
Saved: Latimore Tourist Home
In October of 2022, Russellville, Arkansas, community members safely moved the endangered Latimore Tourist Home, a site listed in the 1949 edition of The Negro Motorist Green Book. Once owned by a prominent Black veterinarian, Eugene Latimore, and his wife, Cora, the circa-1900 house served as a haven for African Americans traveling between Little Rock and Fort Smith during the Jim Crow era, says Randy Hendrix, president of the nonprofit Friends of the Latimore Tourist Home.
The National Register–listed house later sat vacant for years, until the church that owned the property decided to donate the building to the city. Hendrix and the rest of the Friends group, with support from former Mayor Richard Harris, began planning for the house’s restoration and future use. The city purchased it for $1 in 2022, and another local church donated property near recently renovated James School Park so the Friends group could move the house there. Arkansas-based Combs Home Builders & House Movers transferred the structure to a temporary site on a flatbed truck, a spectacle enjoyed by the gathered crowd.
A crew is readying the nearby permanent site for the final move, and fundraising efforts for restoration continue. The Friends group hopes to turn the house into a community center and interpretive site that tells the story of the Latimore family, Green Book sites, and the Civil Rights movement.
Threatened:The Flying Yankee
Built with funding from the Public Works Administration, the state-of-the-art Flying Yankee was one of the first diesel trains in the country in 1935. It captured the imagination of passengers and spectators as it cruised across several different rail routes throughout New England over the years. “It was vastly different from the standard trains you’d see,” says Brian LaPlant, chairman of the nonprofit Flying Yankee Association (FYA). That excitement wore off over time, and the train was retired in 1957. It spent four decades in private hands before the state of New Hampshire took ownership in 1996.
Nine years later, the government moved the three cars to an open lot in Lincoln, New Hampshire, where they remain today. The state, aided by the FYA (then known as the Flying Yankee Restoration Group), has overseen some rehabilitation work. But the cars were in worse shape than expected, and the process stagnated due to rising costs.
LaPlant, a rail enthusiast, got involved in 2021. He helped restructure the FYA, updating its name, board, and strategy. Its goal now is to find land and construct a building to house the train, which it intends to purchase, during restoration. LaPlant says if the state rejects the group’s proposal, it’s unlikely the train will be destroyed, but it could be moved out of the public eye. In the long run, the association wants a historically accurate Flying Yankee running again, albeit with limited service.
Saved: Heard Opera House
Krissy Constantino and her partner, Danny Mastrodonato, were making progress on their restoration of the Heard Opera House in downtown Arcadia, Florida, for much of 2022. The 1906 structure was in good condition and retained much of its original character, so it only required relatively simple fixes such as repainting. Then, Hurricane Ian struck in September, shattering two large windows and blowing out the rear wall behind the stage, which cost the building some of its original brickwork.
In the aftermath, the city condemned the building, meaning its owner had to either stabilize the structure or tear it down. With the financial support of the owner, Constantino and Mastrodonato took on the challenge and constructed two load-bearing walls inside the damaged rear facade. By January of 2023, the building was secure. It has reopened for some performances, and the team has launched a multiyear, $3.5 million–$5 million restoration plan that will maintain the opera house’s historic integrity.
So far, Constantino and Mastrodonato have saved the original stage and auditorium floors and most of the original wood roofing. They plan to replace any damaged stucco, plaster, or wood with matching materials. They’ve also removed the front awning added in the 1980s and will paint the exterior to match a 1913 photograph. Constantino hopes the building will ultimately serve as a community arts hub.
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