A Cafe sans Screens and Wifi

A coffee shop. A nice place to work, right? Or socializing?

In October, Preservation in Pink discussed the Coffee Shop Conundrum: coffee shop atmosphere and aesthetics, the cost of a cup of coffee, how much to spend in a small business, and how long to stay. Do you have coffee shop guilt? How can a coffee shop be the best atmosphere, the most inviting, and still make a profit?

You might have seen the recent NPR story on August First, a coffee shop/cafe in Burlington, Vermont that has banned screens (laptops and tablets) as of March 31, 2014. Why? Customers were squatting, staying too long and the business was losing money. Buying a few cups of coffee for a few hours was just not cutting it for profits. Additionally, when all of the tables are always full with people and laptops, it does not create the community feel that August First wanted. Rather than being social and neighborly, people were setting up shop with more space than needed and not leaving. The tables were not turning over. So August First made a bold move. Two years ago they cut the free wifi, and this year they banned screens (smartphones are allowed). The result? Sales have increased, even with people’s complaining.

August First in Burlington, VT.

August First in Burlington, VT.

While banning screens sounds crazy, you can probably understand August First’s point-of-view. Haven’t you ever walked into a cafe where the tables were all full, some with one person taking up a table for four? That isn’t fair to anyone.

If you read the comments on the NPR articles (hundreds) you’ll see that there are many issues at hand:

  1. Customers squatting at tables cuts down in revenues because tables do not turn over;
  2. Tables that do not turn over will discourage people from returning because they expect to not be able to find a table;
  3. What sort of atmosphere are the business trying to create?;
  4. Cafes are not meant to be alternate offices for freelancers (although I’m sure we’ve all wished about that!);
  5. Is there more of an issue for small business owners than chains such as Starbucks or Barnes & Noble?

The first two are easy to comprehend. Customers spending a few hours and drinking two cups of coffee, for example, will not create as much business as a group of people drinking a cup of coffee or eating a meal. Customers taking up more than one chair and space for one person, prevent more customers from choosing to drink/dine in this cafe.

Yet, some businesses might want the creative writing/academic/business crowd to settle in for a while and appreciate the space. Some people crave working in environments where you are allowed to drink coffee (as in, not the library) and hear the hum of everyday life around you while you work. As discussed in Coffee Shop Conundrum, Starbucks is not an environment where you’d want to say a while (in my opinion). A local, cozy, friendly coffee shop is. At that point, the issue becomes about respect and etiquette, issues often overlooked when screens are in front of our faces. Do not use the coffee shop as your office and spend enough money when you are there. However, what is the appropriate amount of money?

The issue of coffee shop space diverges into credit card v. cash purchases and the evolving nature of how we communicate, interact, and work.

Are there solutions? Well, for those who do not understand that a coffee shop is not an office, they should consider collaborative/co-working office space: renting a desk in an office with other freelancers. If you find the right space, you’ll find your ideal coffee shop/work atmosphere. Even the small city of Montpelier, Vermont has such a space – Local 64. Look around in your city.

What about a different approach? How about a pay-as-you-go space? A cafe in the U.K. and one in Buenos Aires serve as the examples. You pay for the amount of time that you’re in the cafe, not for anything else. It hearkens back to the days of the internet cafe, when you were paying for internet. It’s another version of the co-working space.

And then there are variations. Some coffee shops give you a code when you place an order. Once you run out of internet time, you have to buy something else to get additional time. Other places request that you limit your time and table space during busy hours. Perhaps creating a screen section would work.

Of course, each business can do what is best for its business and create the environment it would like. As we become more mobile and screen-attached, small businesses will have to be creative and find solutions to keep up their profits. Good job to August First for being braving and finding what works for them. Not to mention, the food is delicious, and August First is located in a historic building.

What do you think? Are there other issues? Does your favorite coffee shop have wifi? Any other solutions? What’s the balance?

The 11 Most Endangered Places

Fighting battles (often uphill battles) is something we preservationists agree to, knowingly or not, when we jump into the historic preservation field. Not everything is a battle, but some definitely are. There is no way around the battle, you just have to go through it. And some of these projects need a boost. Each year the National Trust for Historic Places accepts nominations for its “11 Most Endangered Places” list. Placement in this list is not a guarantee of success, but it has yielded wonderful success stories over the years.

Do you have a historic site that needs publicity, funding, solutions and help? Odds are, you do. You can nominate a  historic site. Read on for the press release from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Deadline is March 3rd to Submit a Nomination to National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2014 List of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places

The deadline is fast approaching to submit a nomination for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2014 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places®. For over a quarter century, this list has highlighted important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural and natural heritage that are at risk for destruction or irreparable damage. Nominations are due on Monday, March 3, 2014.

“Historic places are a tangible reminder of who we are as a nation,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “For over 25 years, the National Trust’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has helped shine a spotlight on threatened historic places throughout the nation, helping not only to preserve these places, but also galvanizing local support for the preservation of other unique, irreplaceable treasures that make our nation and local communities special.”

More than 250 threatened one-of-a-kind historic treasures have been identified on the list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places since 1988. Whether these sites are urban districts or rural landscapes, Native American landmarks or 20th-century sports arenas, entire communities or single buildings, the list spotlights historic places across America that are facing a range of threats including insufficient funds, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy. The designation has been a powerful tool for raising awareness and rallying resources to save endangered sites from every region of the country.

The places on the list need not be famous, but they must be significant within their own cultural context, illustrate important issues in preservation and have a need for immediate action to stop or reverse serious threats. All nominations are subject to an extensive, rigorous vetting process.

Follow the National Trust @PresNation and 11 Most list #11Most

For additional information, e-mail 11Most@savingplaces.org or call 202.588.6141. To learn more about the program and to submit a nomination, visit:  www.preservationnation.org/11most

Remember, due this Monday March 3. Consider it weekend homework for a great cause. Find the nomination for here.


The Historic Rural Schoolhouses of Montana were collectively listed in the 2013 11 Most Endangered Places. Their threat was lack of funding. Photo by Carroll Van West, via the National Trust. Click for source.

The Historic Rural Schoolhouses of Montana were collectively listed in the 2013 11 Most Endangered Places. Their threat was lack of funding. Photo by Carroll Van West, via the National Trust. Click for source.

Side note: “The Most Endangered Places” always sounds like “The Most Dangerous Game.” Is anyone else still stuck in English class? 

Preservation on the Ground: Woodbury’s Armory in Burlington, VT

A historic building that sits empty for ten years is not an untold story in preservation, even if it appears to be in a prime location. The brick armory on Main Street in Burlington, VT sat empty since 2003, leaving passersby to wonder about its fate. What they did not know: this story is different. 

The Armory in its day as Hunt's Mill & Mining. Photo source: Housing Vermont. Click for link.

The Armory in its day as R.W. Hunt Mill & Mining Company. Photo source: Housing Vermont. Click for link.

Setting the Stage: Woodbury’s Armory

Urban Woodbury built the Armory in 1904 and leased the space to the National Guard. In its storied history, the Armory has served as a car dealership, R.W. Hunt Mill & Mining Company, Sha-Na-Na’s Night Club, and as office space. Circa 2000, a popular local music venue was looking to buy the space, but couldn’t decipher logistics with the City of Burlington. Fire struck in 2003, leaving the building unoccupied and seemingly forgotten after 100 years of use.

Enter Redstone

Who would want a burned-out, muddled, old building? Most would shy away. Fortunately, not Redstone, a company well known and respected for its historic preservation and rehabilitation of Vermont buildings such as the Chace Mill in Winooski and the Maltex Building in Burlington’s South End. After the fire, Redstone purchased and mothballed the building, and began working on the dilemma of the Armory’s next chapter. Erik Hoekstra, manager of the project, met with me on a surprisingly warm January afternoon for a tour of the building and project talk.

View from the corner of Main Street and Pine Street.

View from the corner of Main Street and Pine Street.

The Big (Block) Picture

The real story is that the building was never forgotten. Like its past, the future of Woodbury’s Armory is part of a bigger picture: the redevelopment of the Main-Pine-King-St. Paul block in the City of Burlington. The block includes TD Bank, Hinds Lofts, a mixed use block (King Street Housing), and a handful of private residences.

The Armory is located at the corner of Main Street and Pine Street. Note its location between the waterfront and Church Street.

The Armory is located at the corner of Main Street and Pine Street. Note its location between the waterfront and Church Street.

In addition to being a part of this block redevelopment, the Armory stands as an important link between Burlington’s successful Church Street pedestrian mall and the popular Lake Champlain Waterfront.

Landscaping plan-2 copy2

A landscaping plan, courtesy of Redstone, edited by author. Main Street is at the top of the image.

As Hoekstra and Redstone worked to develop a successful plan, the company invested in new windows, new stone sills, brick repointing and a new roof in 2007 for the Armory.  Not forgotten, but rather, the building was waiting for a sound, successful plan to germinate. According to Hoekstra, parking and finances were great challenges of this project. Parking is at a premium in the City of Burlington, and a building like the Armory didn’t come with parking. Working with property acquired from TD Bank, Redstone was able redesign the remaining open block space – then a surface parking lot – and provide enough parking.  In terms of finances, the Armory could not succeed alone as standalone project. It had to be bigger. It needed the entire block.   In the end, there are many funding partners and sources including Vermont State Tax Credits and New Market Tax Credits.

The first floor of the Armory shows where a pool will be located and where the floor above had to be removed.

The first floor of the Armory shows where a pool will be located and where the floor above had to be removed.

The Plan

As of February 2014, construction is well underway at the Armory. The Main-Pine-King-St. Paul block will soon be home to a new hotel, parking garage, and retail space. Woodbury’s Armory, on the Main Street/Pine Street corner will serve as the hotel lobby for the Hilton Garden Inn. The first floor of the Armory will house the hotel pool and retail space, hopefully a restaurant to add to Burlington’s eclectic mix of eateries. To the south and extending east from Armory will be an addition to house the 2 story parking garage with 4 floors of hotel rooms above. Sensitive to streetscape and the historic context, the garage/hotel addition will have different height elevation on St. Paul Street and Pine Street. Guests will access the lobby from the porte-cochère off Main Street.

The King Street and Main Street elevations of the project. Photo courtesy of Redstone.

The King Street and Main Street elevations of the project. Photo courtesy of Redstone.

St. Paul Street and Pine Street elevations. Courtesy of Redstone.

St. Paul Street and Pine Street elevations. Courtesy of Redstone.

Preservationists might ask why a chain hotel? Hoekstra said that although Redstone hoped for a boutique hotel, banks were only agreeable to funding an established, large business with a loyal customer base. The Hilton Garden Inn will be operated under a franchise agreement with Hilton, but will be locally owned by Redstone and partners.  Hilton has been amenable in terms of designing a unique space and incorporating the Armory’s historic features into the rehabilitation. The 139 room hotel is set to open by the end of 2014.

The Armory under construction, February 2014.

The Armory under construction, February 2014.

Why the Armory & Historic Preservation?

As Erik Hoekstra stated, Redstone prefers preservation and rehabilitation projects because of the challenge and commitment to the community. Sprawl development does not give that same satisfaction of project completion. Urban infill, smart growth, and redevelopment make the job more interesting.

One of the best finds of the restoration was uncovering the Armory carved into the granite lintel.

One of the best finds of the restoration was uncovering the Armory carved into the granite lintel.

Hoekstra credits his interest in historic buildings and development to growing up in several historic houses, including a Sears Roebuck Catalog house in LaGrange, IL. Hoekstra studied real estate and finance and worked in New York City before coming to Vermont in 2001 to work with Housing Vermont and later Redstone. He studied Real Estate Development in the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

Interested in Hoekstra’s line of work? He advises that there are many roads to working in development and historic preservation. Some include working in construction, property management, finance or a non-profit organization like Housing Vermont. Hoekstra says that no matter the type of company, the process is still the same: Design, permit, finance, legal, construction.

When asked about his favorite part of this project, Hoekstra said that it’s seeing all of the puzzle pieces fit together. And that is always a preservation success story.

A view looking north on Pine Street.

A view looking north on Pine Street.

For the Olympic Lovers: The Olympics and Place

The Winter Olympics have been near and dear to my heart for a long time, since my sister Annie O’Shea is on the USA Skeleton team. While she is not competing in the Olympics this time around (women’s skeleton had two spots, not three), it’s still exciting to cheer on the athletes whose names and faces are familiar to me. Go Bobsled & Skeleton!

Have you been watching the Olympics yet? Have you noticed the gorgeous scenery in and around Sochi? While you’re watching the Olympics with a preservation eye (let’s face it, we never stop thinking preservation), have you considered how the Olympics alter a place? Suddenly there is an entire village constructed, inhabited and then deserted. Surely this alters its host city. Does it have the benefit of creating beautiful spaces and opportunities for these cities? Or is it just too much to handle all at once?  It seems that cities have varying results, but overwhelmingly there are venues without a purpose.

A list of the summer and winter sports (wow, there are many more winter sports!)

Toboggan runs in Yosemite National Park, 1932.

The Bobsled/Skeleton/Luge track from the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics.

Olympic cities after the Olympics (a positive spin).

Decaying cities follow the Olympics (a negative spin).

And some eerie abandoned post Olympic venues.

Three lessons cities should learn by hosting the Olympics.

Successful changes to Barcelona due to the 1992 Olympics.

The Olympic City Project, a book documenting post Olympic cities, and the NPR interview (with photos).

The 1932 Bobsled and Skeleton track at Lake Placid, NY. The 1980 track remains in use.

What do you think? What should cities take into consideration when bidding on, planning for, and constructing the Olympic venues? And what can we do these monstrous venues following the close of each Olympics? Is there value in preservation? Planners, preservationists, everyone – what do you have to say?

Preservation on the Ground: Norla Preservation Project

Social media makes the world seem smaller and larger at the same time. Smaller in the sense that you come across people with similar interests and crazy six degrees of separation. News travels faster, instantaneously. Larger in the sense that you discover so much more than you knew existed. Best of all, this small and large  social media sphere allows us to meet people taking on exciting projects across the country, and world.

This brings me to introduce “Preservation on the Ground”, a new series for Preservation in Pink that will interview passionate people wrangling preservation projects and living inspiring stories.

The first story here brings us to Kelly Rich in Louisiana and the Norla Preservation Project. Kelly found PiP on instragram and intrigued by her photos, I immediately followed Norla and began asking questions about the project. Want to hear it straight from Kelly? Read on. Below is the interview with Kelly.

The shotgun houses in Shreveport, LA. Photo courtesy of Kelly Rich.

The six historic shotgun houses in Shreveport, LA. Photo courtesy of Kelly Rich.

What’s your 30 second elevator pitch for your project?

Norla Preservation Project is a newly formed nonprofit utilizing adaptive reuse on a project that was set for demolition. We are trying to teach by example that historic buildings that may have outlived their original purpose still have value and potential for something new. We are taking six historic shotgun houses that were marked for demolition and re-purposing them into small business commercial use. We will use the project to promote awareness of our local historic architecture and cultural heritage.

The shotgun houses, boarded up and awaiting this project.

The shotgun houses, boarded up and awaiting this project. Photo courtesy of Kelly Rich.

What’s the overall plan?

Norla’s goal is to complete the shotgun commercial development and lease the buildings to local small businesses. Our ideal property would include at least two casual restaurants, a coffee shop and bakery, a small market selling Louisiana products, a bookstore and gallery, and a piano jazz bar. Once the property is successful and income producing, we will take the profit and adopt another adaptive reuse project. We will also offer preservation education opportunities to the community.

A site plan view of the Norla project. Image courtesy of Kelly Rich.

A site plan view of the Norla project. Image courtesy of Kelly Rich.

How will it be funded?

We are raising money and looking into grant opportunities. Also we are developing several sponsorship and donor possibilities for a state-wide supported project.

The birdseye view of the proposed site plan.

The birdseye view of the proposed site plan. Image courtesy of Kelly Rich.

Who is helping you on this project?

Not sure how to answer this one. I have several representatives from the City of Shreveport and other preservation groups in Louisiana that are guiding us in the right direction. We do not have any developers or corporate sponsors as of yet. We have nine amazing board members and a growing community of volunteers.

Do you have a time frame?

Once we go forward with the donation of the shotgun houses from the city this year, we plan to work with a 18-24 month timeline.

The Shotgun houses.

The Shotgun houses. Photo courtesy of Kelly Rich.

What motivated you to take on such a project?

As a single mom, I had an opportunity to purchase a historic building several years ago. After researching the cost and time requirements to rehabilitate, I regretfully walked away. I hate that story. I gave up too easily. When I encountered another rehab gamble with the shotgun houses, I stepped up with the thought of “Just try.” My motivation came from the realization that if I didn’t do something then, these houses would be gone forever. It started from a mild curiosity of asking questions to a feeling of obligation and responsibility to these houses. I hated the thought of losing a part of history because no one wanted them. And plus I am determined to have an “I told you so” moment….to myself mostly.

Kelly and her daughter.

Kelly and her daughter Madeline in front of the shotgun houses. Adorable! Photo courtesy of Kelly Rich.

Tell me about your background. How did you get interested in historic preservation?

My love of anything old came from my father. He is a wonderful storyteller and one of the most knowledgeable men I know. He would always have a story to tell about an old church or building, and it instilled in me an appreciation of how buildings and houses all have a story to tell if we take the time to pay attention. Ten years ago, I bought my first historic home, joined my first historical association, and fell hard for the historic preservation life. I’ve been active in different historic and cultural groups since.

Kelly showing that the shotgun houses matter!

Kelly showing that the shotgun houses matter! Photo courtesy of Kelly Rich.

Do you consider yourself a preservationist?

It’s definitely part of who I am. I’m no expert in the field of preservation, but I have a desire to learn and consider myself an aggressive advocate for the buildings that have stories that need to be shared. I am a bit of a romantic when it comes to old buildings. I imagine who all might have walked through the doors, what they might have thought about, what they might have seen. It hurts my heart to see them in disrepair because of neglect and indifference. I also have a constant need for a project to obsess over or I go insane.

What or who inspires you? What keeps you going?

I consistently am described as “enthusiastic.” I have had multiple occasions where I start sharing about the project and I get the dubious looks, but by the end of the spiel, their eyes are bright and they’re nodding in agreement. THAT’S what keeps me going…all the skeptics that I can convert to supporters. There’s a teeny tiny (ha!) stubborn streak in me that gets even more excited when challenged. I have learned that passion is contagious and we are trying our best to infect the masses with a preservation minded spirit!

The Norla logo. Image courtesy of Kelly Rich.

The Norla logo. Image courtesy of Kelly Rich.

What can others do to help?

The easiest thing is to share our project with others. Norla is new in the preservation world, and we hope hearing our story might trigger an emotional response and possibly create new volunteers and donors. Once we finalize our budget and timeline, we will plan several volunteer work weekends with a little Louisiana fun mixed in as well.We are working with Adventures in Preservation and the NCPTT to offer these working vacations themed on historic preservation. Keep watching the website or sign up for our newsletter to keep up with updates.

Find Norla on Facebook, on Instagram, and on the project website. And share this video with others! You can see how much passion Kelly has, and we all know that any preservation project could use some extra hands, good vibes, and some funding. Share the love and the good preservation news that’s happening on the ground.

Thank you, Kelly! Kudos for your courage to save these six shotgun houses. Keep us posted on your project progress.

Young or Not? A Round-Up.

Wow, the response to the post, “The Young Preservationists and The Not-Young Preservationists?” was overwhelming in the best way. For everyone who shared or commented, thank you. If you had time to browse the comments, you’ll see that many of you had much to say.

What is the general conclusion? Most of you agree that “a preservationist is a preservationist.” The term “young preservationists” is often a way to give the newbies some solid ground in the professional world, a chance to network and meet like-minded people.

However, the connotation of young is young-in-age as opposed to new-in-career, and it gets confusing. “Young” might mean inexperienced, which can be misleading or it can mean “full of energy” which more seasoned professionals might take some offense to. The connotations of “young” leave out those who have chosen preservation as a second career and are older than the 22 year olds just out of college. And what is the cutoff for “young” and “not-young”? There didn’t seem to be a consensus. Rather, it’s just a feeling. What’s the answer? “Emerging professionals” seems to fit the bill. Or, a group in Cincinnati avoids age all together and formed a group called “The Preservation Collective.”

Preservation is a field that requires a united front, so let’s keep it that way. Avoid “young,” go with something more fitting such as “emerging professionals” and be glad for seasoned professionals. Together we are formidable opponents working to improve the quality of life through the appreciation of our heritage.

Thank you to everyone who commented. Please feel free to keep this conversation going; it’s fascinating.

News: Instagram Posts & a Facebook Change

You’ve probably noticed a few picture posts on the blog over the past few days. In order to integrate Instagram (which is really only smart-phone friendly) and the blog, Instagram posts from @presinpink will now appear as blog posts. In other words, you don’t have to have an Instagram account or a twitter account to see Preservation in Pink adventures via photos. If you do follow presinpink on Instagram, you’ll see that not every photo will make its way from Instagram to the blog. This change allows for blogging in real-time, with a greater variety of posts.

This is accomplished using IFTTT. (Thanks to the ladies at histpres.com for the tip.) Basically, IFTTT creates “recipes” to send messages from one source to another. So it could be an Instagram hashtag (#presinpink) triggers a post on wordpress. Or it can do things like send you a text message when the forecast calls for rain. I’m fascinated by it.

In other news, the Preservation in Pink Facebook page will be removed beginning in 2014 for the purpose of simplifying and consolidating social media. Facebook served to only hold links to posts, and often it’s the last of PiP social media to receive attention. So, I thought I’d conduct an experiment and focus efforts on my preferred social media avenues (blog, Instagram, twitter). In a world of Facebook, maybe it will be necessary. But maybe not. For those who receive posts or links from Facebook, you can sign up for the RSS feed or emails. For communication, leave comments or send emails to preservationinpink@gmail.com.  And posts will still feed to Twitter. If you have a preference, let me know. I like chatting about social media, of course.

Ready to take off from JFK airport. This is a photo from the @presinpink Instagram feed that did not warrant a post on the blog.

Ready to take off from JFK airport, out of the Jetblue terminal. This is a photo from the @presinpink Instagram feed that did not warrant a post on the blog. Hope everyone had/has safe holiday travels.

PresConf Recap: People of Preservation

Sessions, site seeing, photographing buildings, fun events, educational and inspiring speakers – the NTHP and Indianapolis put together a fabulous experience for the 2000+ preservationists and friends

October 30 – November 2, 2013. There’s much to say and much to share, and PiP will cover the conference in segments: people, sessions, events, buildings, and travel. First up: PEOPLE.

Historic preservation is place. It is buildings. But most of all, it is people. Preservation wouldn’t be anywhere without its people. Attending the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference in Indianapolis, IN this past week provided the strongest examples of just how important people are to preservation. It is inspiring to meet preservationists who have such diverse jobs and niches, yet who are all working to further the preservation cause.

New Media, New Audiences panel:

New Media, New Audiences panel: Dana Saylor, Julia Rocchi, Kaitlin O’Shea, Kayla Jonas Galvin, Michelle Kimball, Meagan Baco. More about this social media session to come, but these inspiring women standing with me are just some of the people to which I’m referring.

I’m grateful to live in and participate in the social media sector of preservation. After years of knowing fellow preservationists through blogs, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, finally I had the chance to meet so many passionate people. If you’re one of the social media crew: I probably hugged you – that’s how happy I was to meet you. How interesting it is to have this network across the country (and the world, in some cases), to build these relationships and to know what each other is working on in the field (and some outside of work) even before we meet. We are non-profit employees, government employees, self-employed individuals, writers, artists, photographers, and advocates with projects ranging from one building to an entire city to the entire field of preservation. What an honor to meet everyone. Some of the social media crew includes:

Beyond the social media crowd and network, it’s wonderful to know accomplished preservationists, students, and locals. The Preservation Conference is the place where you can talk to any preservationist; you already have the common ground of preservation, so just strike up a conversation. I was lucky to speak with Stephanie Meeks, President of the NTHP; Vince Michael of the NTHP and the blog Time Tells. I met a 16 year student who has already written a National Register nomination for a Rosenwald School (and it’s been accepted). And this is just the beginning. Everyone is sincerely excited for the field, for each other, and it’s a motivating, inspiring experience. Mix everyone together and you’ll be on a preservation high! The annual preservation conference is one of the best ways to be reinvigorated and inspired. I look forward to future conversations and conferences.

Indy Love



What a wonderful whirlwind of preservation events, travels, and friends this past week. Now that it’s back to the normal preservation life, there is time to process and share the adventures and lessons. Indianapolis was a wonderful hostess! Stay tuned throughout this week; I have a lot to write, say, and share.

Abandoned Vermont: Manchester Inn

Manchester, Vermont is a popular high-style tourist destination with historic buildings, historic marble sidewalks, nearby recreation, shopping outlets – it’s picture perfect on so many streets. So you can imagine my surprise when I noticed this abandoned structure in the middle of historic Manchester.

On Main Street.

On Main Street.

I know I’ve driven by this building at least a few times in the past few years, maybe the fall day made its abandoned-ness more apparent. This was an interesting building. On the exterior it appeared that someone had attempted maintenance relatively recently. Yet peeking in the windows revealed peeling paint, water damage, and the usual vandalism inside. A sticker on the front door had a 2003 Conde Nast logo, so presumably the building had only been empty for a few years – likely not 10. It was weird. Check out these photos and see what I mean.

Marble sidewalks in Manchester.

Marble sidewalks in Manchester.

The view from Route 7A (Main Street) in Manchester, VT.

The view from Route 7A (Main Street) in Manchester, VT.

The property is much larger than you can see from the street.

The property is much larger than you can see from the street. Hmm, and a shallow roof pitch. That is never a good idea in cold climates.

A marble patio with an outdoor pool (not shown in photo).

A marble patio with an outdoor pool (not shown in photo).

The front porch.

The front porch.

On the front porch.

On the front porch.

Looking through the windows. It's amazing how much has deteriorated in just a few years.

Looking through the windows. It’s amazing how much has deteriorated in just a few years. If the first floor looks like this, what do the upper floors look like?

This takes "shuttered" to a new level.

This takes “shuttered” to a new level.

And the story? Well, the inn closed in 2009 due to foreclosure, and approved for demolition in 2011 by the Development Review Board. Recently purchased in 2013, the currents owners do not have a plan for the property. With its fate of demolition looming, the important questions will turn to documentation and infill.