Places Restored, Threatened, Saved, and Lost in Preservation Magazine's Summer 2018 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 are six from Summer 2018.
Saved: Teweles and Brandeis Grain Elevator
The Teweles and Brandeis Grain Elevator is the last remaining community grain elevator in Door County, Wisconsin. The corrugated metal–clad granary was constructed in 1901 on a pier overlooking the western shore of Sturgeon Bay. It operated until the 1960s and was later used for storage. Though it is relatively intact, the foundation and some of the 15-foot-high wooden pillars or “legs” supporting it have deteriorated. Citing safety concerns, Sturgeon Bay’s fire chief issued a raze order in October of 2017. City officials later altered the demolition order to a dismantle order and allowed a demolition company to begin salvaging 95 percent of the granary’s lumber. But in March of 2018, just after crews removed the metal siding, an anonymous donor purchased the remaining frame structure from the demolition company for $96,000. The donor gifted the granary to the Sturgeon Bay Historical Society, which hired movers to transport it across the 1,057-foot-long Maple-Oregon Bridge to its new location. The structure’s legs are in storage until a new foundation is in place. The historical society is exploring ways to make the granary functional and open to the public.
Lost: Jacobs House
In 1968, artist Marjorie Jacobs commissioned Boston architect Frederick Stahl to design a summer house in Nantucket, Massachusetts. She and her husband vacationed there for decades until the end of 2017, when the aging couple sold the house. The Jacobs House was one of only a handful of residences Stahl designed and one of less than a dozen Modernist houses left on Nantucket. (The entire island was added to the National Trust’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2000.) The Jacobs House’s unusual roofline, meant to mimic waves from the Atlantic Ocean, was unique on Nantucket, and cannot be replicated due to current design guidelines. In early 2018, the public learned that the Historic District Commission (HDC) had given the new owner, who purchased the house under an LLC, permission to demolish the house. In Nantucket, any building awaiting demolition that the HDC considers historially significant must be advertised in the local paper to allow the opportunity for someone to move it off the property. Unfortunately, the high cost of land and moving expenses deterred anyone from stepping forward. Despite the Nantucket Preservation Trust’s advocacy efforts and concern from locals, the Jacobs House was demolished on March 6.
Threatened: Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission
The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) Headquarters in Hyattsville, Maryland, is threatened with a high-density development proposal. The building, including the original 1939 Art Deco structure and two wings added in 1953 and 1964, has been vacant for more than two decades, drawing concern from locals over its neglect. In May, Prince George’s County issued a demolition permit to the building’s current owner, Douglas Development. The 7.7-acre site adjoins a parking lot frequently used by residents visiting a nearby park, but the developer, Werrlein Properties, plans to develop the parking lot as well. In June, the Hyattsville City Council voted against supporting the preliminary development plan for the sites. Werrlein Properties is scheduled to return to the council in mid-July to request a full zoning change. The planning board of Prince George’s County will also vote on the issue later in July. If the board rejects the zoning change, the developer may walk away. Though currently unclear what would happen to the WSSC headquarters then, groups including Preservation Maryland, SOS Hyattsville, and DOCOMOMO DC are hopeful that another buyer interested in reusing the building will come forward.
Restored: Kehoe Iron Works
In April of 2018, Savannah, Georgia, marked the re-opening of Kehoe Iron Works by holding the annual Savannah Music Festival’s all-day finale at the site. The complex now delivers event space with a focus on the performing arts and healthy living. Located in the city’s National Historic Landmark District, it comprises four buildings constructed between 1873 and 1902, including the machine shop, which is the only corrugated metal-clad building in the historic district. The site was last occupied by natural gas distributor Atlanta Gas Light, which moved out in the late 1980s. It stood vacant for over 28 years, due in part to its designation as an environmentally contaminated site. In 2004, Savannah-based media executive Charles H. Morris purchased the property and funded the $21 million rehabilitation, which began in 2012. Overseen by Lominack Kolman Smith Architects, crews spliced damaged columns and repaired the steel framing and truss system in the machine shop, removed infill brick from arched openings in the foundry building, repaired original frame windows, and re-created the widow’s walk.
Restored: Hilton Center, Community College of Baltimore County Catonsville
The Community College of Baltimore County Catonsville recently completed a major renovation of the Hilton Center, the gateway to the campus. Formerly a private residence, the building dates to the 1850s and was expanded into the current 16,898-square-foot Georgian Revival house in 1919. In 1962, the Baltimore County Board of Education purchased the building to serve as classroom space and administrative offices for the newly formed college. By 2011, water infiltration from the porch roof, cracks in the exterior stucco, and leaking pipes had damaged the mahogany paneling in one of the rooms and the plaster throughout the building’s interior. Aided by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and from the county and state, the school worked with SM+P Architects and Lewis Contractors from May of 2016 to December of 2017 to abate asbestos and lead, install new wiring, repair windows and exterior trim, and refinish the mahogany paneling. Students from the school’s interior design program chose the main floor’s wallpaper, paint, and furniture. The building now houses the Center for Global Education, the honors program, classrooms, and offices.
Saved: Imperial Hotel
From 1949 until 1969, when integration led to its closure, the Imperial Hotel in Thomasville, Georgia, was the only hotel in town where African Americans could stay. After closing, it was used by Curtis Thomas, president of Thomasville’s NAACP chapter, and others as office space until 2001. An out-of-town investor purchased the newly vacated building, which has a prime downtown location, a year later. Thomasville Landmarks, a nonprofit historic preservation group, and the Jack Hadley Black History Museum (JHBHM), which is dedicated to local African American history, closely monitored the building; in early 2018 a board member of the JHBHM convinced the Imperial’s owner to sell it to the museum. JHBHM purchased it in March through a grant from Thomasville Landmarks’ revolving fund that was matched by the Williams Family Foundation of Georgia. The organizations have begun to devise a plan for the building’s structural stabilization, which will be funded in its entirety by an anonymous donor. The museum hopes to then display some of its collection on the ground floor and potentially re-create the hotel rooms upstairs.