Brutalism at IKEA

I’m a preservationist, but I live in a small condo, in a new building in Vermont. This sounds opposite of a what a preservationist would choose, right? Well, sort of. While the building was constructed in 2014, it was constructed on a parking lot in downtown Burlington. I can walk everywhere and choose to use the car as minimally as possible, embracing an urban lifestyle and shopping local when feasible. Because my condo is small, I have come to embrace IKEA design. It’s minimal, modern, streamlined, and perfect for small space living. I can spot an IKEA piece from across a room or from a glimpse at a photograph and know what is worth buying and what isn’t. Anyone with me?

Recently, I visited IKEA New Haven (CT). I’ve blogged about this IKEA before. It’s the one that sits next to the (now IKEA owned) former Pirelli Tire Building, a 1968 building designed by Marcel Breuer in the Brutalist style. IKEA demolished the two-story wing, but the main block remains. Not the best preservation story.

During my recent visit, I peaked in the windows of the building. It’s still empty. However, news reports say that IKEA is considering rehabilitating the building into a hotel. It’s just a rumor, it seems, but it sounds promising, and maybe would serve as (belated) mitigation for the adverse effects to the building. It would make IKEA a destination, for sure. Ha.

img_2957

View from the IKEA cafeteria. 

img_2955

Reflected in IKEA. 

img_2951

Exterior details. 

img_2952

Looking up.

img_2950

Peeking inside the bottom floor of the Pirelli Tire building.

img_2960

Sitting in the IKEA cafeteria, you can gaze upon the Brutalist architecture. 

What do you think? Do you appreciate Brutalism more as time goes on? Do you love IKEA or steer clear? And where do you live? Urban? Suburban? Rural? New? Historic?

Brookside Cemetery, Chester

‘Tis the season for cemeteries, foliage, and foggy days. Brookside Cemetery sits in the center of Chester, a picture perfect town in southern Vermont. It is a historic, intact, linear later 18th century to early 20th century Vermont village. The cemetery is located between the Chester Historical Society (the ca. 1881 brick schoolhouse) and the 1835 Baptist Church. Across the street is the town green and on the other side of the green is a beautiful, intact row of a historic buildings. Brookside Cemetery has been in use since the 18th century; the earliest headstone dates to 1770. In New England tradition, the burials face east and the stone lettering faces west. Even on a gloomy fall day, it’s peaceful. Take a look!

img_2771

Looking to the schoolhouse and the cemetery.

img_2779

View to the Chester Historical Society. 

img_2790

Headstones.

img_2785

img_2777

The main entrance to the cemetery; this fence dates to 1867.

img_2776

The 1850 Public Tomb was constructed of granite block cut in nearby Gassetts, VT and transported by train to Chester Depot.

img_2774

The 1830 Hearse House is a museum as of 2017.

img_2780

The main entrance road is lined with cedar trees. The road was laid down and the trees were planted in 1867, inspired by the Mount Auburn (MA) Cemetery and the rural garden cemetery movement.

 

Interested in learning more about Chester?

  • Read more about Chester’s Brookside Cemetery here.
  • Read the Chester Village Historic District National Register nomination here.

 

Demolished New York: Massena High School {or: How to Answer “What Used to Be Here?”}

Demolished? It’s a variant on “Abandoned” posts, yes. However; it seems like a good way to show you the mind of a traveling preservation (or at least how mine works). What does a preservationist think about when traveling? And how does a preservationist find the answer to her question? I’ll use Massena, NY as an example, which I visited earlier this summer.

Massena, NY is a town located on the St. Lawrence River in northern New York, just south of the Canadian border. Once economically supported by the railroad and a canal, the car manufacturer, GM, along with Reynolds and Alcoa, Massena has seen better days since GM closed in 2009, removing billions of dollars from the local economy. However, the town has a good stock of historic buildings with tree-lined side streets showing its former prosperity and its potential. We enjoyed walking around town studying its current state and wondering about its past.

img_1335

Downtown Massena: underground utilities, sidewalk pavers, trees, storefronts – it is clear that there has been investment in this town not too long ago.

img_1331

The 1918 Strand Theater on Main Street is currently closed, but rehabilitation efforts are in the works.

img_1333

Theater plans in the window.

img_1332

Massena Downtown Theatre Association – see here http://massenadowntowntheatre.com/

The remainder of the small downtown “main street” includes abandoned buildings (such as the School of Business), building under rehabilitation, empty storefronts, occupied storefronts, a hotel, a post office, and some stores.

img_1336

This corner building holds a gym on the first floor.

img_1339

The rehabilitated bridge over the Grass River.

Outside of the downtown block are tree-lined residential streets with sidewalks and historic houses with front porches. There is a large park between Clark Street and Danforth Street (see map below) with a monument in it. It’s part sign, part monument, you could say.

massena park aerial

img_1325

Massena High School sign and school bell installed in the park.

img_1326

Memorial sign.

img_1327

The park and former school grounds as they appear today. The sign is behind me in this photograph.

I wondered what this sign was doing here, oddly located, in the middle of an empty park with nothing else. Where did it come from? A quick look on the map showed it labeled as “Wooden Park.” Other maps showed it as “Old Bridges Avenue Junior High School.” It seems like an odd spot for a school building, as the lot is fairly narrow. There certainly was no parking. What did it look like, if it was a school? When I have a question like this, I turn to historicaerials.com, which usually answers my question. See below. The school filled the entire space between the streets.

massena high school

The school is in the center of the photograph with Clark Street on the left and Danforth Street on the right. Note the courtyard in the middle of the school.  Photo: historicaerials.com

massena1976

Massena, 1976.

And, of course, I search for images on Google or Cardcow.com or eBay. In this case I searched for old “Massena High School” NY. I vary the quotation marks until I find what I’m looking for. When you have a common phrase such as “high school” it’s best to use it in quotes with its name, otherwise you’ll have an endless list of search results. Fortunately, this search wasn’t too difficult.

High School Massena, NY

Massena High School. Source: cardcow.com

massena high shcool photo

Massena High School (later Junior High School). Source: http://www.topix.com/album/detail/massena-ny/R3V9PSPSATQBVQOU. Thank you, kind strangers, who post information about your hometowns on the internet.

The high school was closed after the 1980-81 school year and demolished in 1986. I was unsuccessful in discovering why it was removed, but I would guess it had to do with expensive upgrades and maintenance issues. In its place a wooden park was constructed in 1990 and removed in 2015. It was officially known as the Danforth Place Creative Playground. Walking across the grass, you can still find wood remnants of the playground. The playground was removed due to deterioration and increasing vandalism and illegal activity on the playground.

And that, my preservation friends, is a simple way to find out answers to “what used to be here?” What tricks do you have?

Cheap Old Houses

It’s impossible to resist oogling houses on the instagram accounts @cheapoldhouses @circahouses and others, and following #renovationdiaries or some similar hashtag. Or, maybe you’re more the type to dream while watching “Fixer Upper” or a similar HGTV show. (My mixed feelings remain on HGTV, as do my viewing habits.)

As preservationists, we see potential in most every building. And when there’s an affordable (sometimes incredibly cheap) house just waiting for a new owner to uncover its story and restore its beauty, it’s hard not to be tempted to scoop up the house. A few that caught my eye lately:

View this post on Instagram

4625 Forsyth St, Bagdad, FL — Such a sweet little Florida home! "Incredible opportunity for historic restoration of the Turner House. John B. Turner was physician to more than 3 generations of Bagdad residents and mill workers. Across the street you’ll find the Thompson House, and plenty more of historic old Florida charmers throughout the village of Bagdad. The recently opened Bagdad Mill Site Park is just a bike ride away, and is truly a one-of-a-kind park that sits on the Blackwater River. Great potential to give new life to this craftsman-style bungalow beauty! Be aware, there are renovation loans available for those looking to take advantage of financing!" — link in profile

A post shared by Cheap Old Houses ™ (@cheapoldhouses) on

Would you ever pick up and move to a new place just for a house? While I fantasize about such things, because I daydream about old buildings, I don’t think I could actually do so. Once upon a time, younger me wanted to live in the middle of nowhere as long as I had land and beautiful old house. Actual grown-up me cannot fathom living in the middle of nowhere. I choose to live in the city, within walking distance to most everything, and not even in an old house. That last part is another story for another day.

What about you? Do you choose location? Do you choose your dwelling? Have your thoughts changed over time? What is more important to you and for what reasons? I choose location for economic, recreation, quality of life, and carbon footprint reasons. Maybe someday the perfect house in the ideal location will find its way to me. For now, I’m happy to gaze and daydream about cheap old houses, just my own preservation fantasies. What’s caught your eye lately?

(If you’re wondering, I love this instagram account, which is why I’m posting about it. Posts on Preservation in Pink are never sponsored. I simply share what I like.)

It’s impossible to resist oogling houses on the instagram accounts @cheapoldhouses @circahouses and others, and following #renovationdiaries or some similar hashtag. Or, maybe you’re more the type to dream while watching “Fixer Upper” or a similar HGTV show. (My mixed feelings remain on HGTV, as do my viewing habits.)

As preservationists, we see potential in most every building. And when there’s an affordable (sometimes incredibly cheap) house just waiting for a new owner to uncover its story and restore its beauty, it’s hard not to be tempted to scoop up the house. A few that caught my eye lately:

View this post on Instagram

4625 Forsyth St, Bagdad, FL — Such a sweet little Florida home! "Incredible opportunity for historic restoration of the Turner House. John B. Turner was physician to more than 3 generations of Bagdad residents and mill workers. Across the street you’ll find the Thompson House, and plenty more of historic old Florida charmers throughout the village of Bagdad. The recently opened Bagdad Mill Site Park is just a bike ride away, and is truly a one-of-a-kind park that sits on the Blackwater River. Great potential to give new life to this craftsman-style bungalow beauty! Be aware, there are renovation loans available for those looking to take advantage of financing!" — link in profile

A post shared by Cheap Old Houses ™ (@cheapoldhouses) on

Would you ever pick up and move to a new place just for a house? While I fantasize about such things, because I daydream about old buildings, I don’t think I could actually do so. Once upon a time, younger me wanted to live in the middle of nowhere as long as I had land and beautiful old house. Actual grown-up me cannot fathom living in the middle of nowhere. I choose to live in the city, within walking distance to most everything, and not even in an old house.

What about you? Do you choose location? Do you choose your dwelling? Have your thoughts changed over time? What is more important to you and for what reasons? I choose location for economic, recreation, quality of life, and carbon footprint reasons. Maybe someday the perfect house in the ideal location will find its way to me. For now, I’m happy to gaze and daydream about cheap old houses. What’s caught your eye lately?

 

New Baby, New Perspectives: Accessibility in My City

If you are able-bodied and independent, you walk easily on most sidewalks and enter/exit stores without problems, other than the occasional surprise of a very heavy door or pushing/pulling when you should be doing the opposite. Cobblestones, bricks, steps, small doors – none of these bother you. Some stores might have small aisles, but other than it being cumbersome at times, it doesn’t slow you down too much. At least that is how I moved about my city – with ease.

Yet, over the past 4+ months, I have navigated the sidewalks and stores of Burlington, VT with a stroller. Suddenly, I gave thought to the condition of the sidewalks, the types of entrances, and the width of aisles. Frankly, the sidewalks of Burlington are horrendous if you are on wheels. Stores are a mixed bag of accessibility. I have plenty of appreciation for stores that are stroller friendly and plenty of empathy for anyone attempting to get around with a stroller or in a wheelchair.

Generally when you pushing a stroller, people are very kind and will hold open the doors for you. And you learn the turning radius and proper spatial distance needed for your stroller. You get better at avoiding sidewalk bumps because you don’t want to wake the sleeping baby, nor jostle her fragile head. You know which streets are best to take. And the list goes on.

(The building block above would be easy to make accessible.)

However, there are some limitations with a stroller, and I would imagine with a wheelchair. I spend a fair amount of time stroller walking. Depending on weather, I might pop in and out of stores to browse or run errands. While Christmas shopping, I realized that I could not take my baby into a few of my favorite shops because there were not accessible entrances (read: only steps, no ramps). Sometimes entrances are elsewhere in buildings, but if there is no sign, that does not help, as I cannot leave the stroller on the sidewalk to go in and inquire. Additionally, some stores have accessible entrances yet the aisles or displays are so close together that even my narrow stroller has a tough time navigating between everything.

(It’s hard to see in this photo, but my favorite building block has a few stores without accessible (or at least obviously found) entrances.)

I wondered about how many people face this challenge. Is the percentage of lost customers so small that it doesn’t affect the businesses? What if you’re in a wheelchair, what do you do?

Most businesses have modified their entrances to accommodate all customers. Unfortunately, this often replaces character defining features of historic entrances, or obscures them. The National Park Service Brief 11: Rehabilitating Historic Storefronts discusses the importance of entrances and their rehabilitation, but its only suggestions for access issues are as follows:

Alterations to a storefront called for by public safety, handicapped access, and fire codes can be difficult design problems in historic buildings. Negotiations can be undertaken with appropriate officials to ensure that all applicable codes are being met while maintaining the historic character of the original construction materials and features. If, for instance, doors opening inward must be changed, rather than replace them with new doors, it may be possible to reverse the hinges and stops so that they will swing outward.

(How would you make the above entrance accessible?)

It makes sense that this would be a case-by-case basis discussion; however, I think we need a collection of good examples. And a discussion. What are the challenges to improve entrance accessibility? Are small businesses at risk of losing business if they cannot improve accessibility? Does this affect you? As historic preservationists, how can we find the balance between character defining entrances and not limiting accessibility? What haven’t you considered in your environment until you had to consider it?

On Leave

It’s been a quiet summer for Preservation in Pink, with good reason. My husband and I have been preparing for and are now welcoming the newest addition to our family: a baby girl! As you can imagine, she is well stocked in flamingo outfits and toys. We’re settling in and soaking up her cuteness. 

PiP will be in slow motion, adjusting to a new normal. No promises on a a schedule yet, since baby girl runs the show right now. There are new preservation adventures to be had with baby in tow (she has no choice in the matter!) And as we say in our circle of flamingos: the flamboyance is expanding yet again! 

Thank you for your support, preservation friends! 

Photo Contest: Othmar H. Ammann Awards

Do you have a favorite bridge or a top-notch bridge photograph that you want to share with other preservationists and bridge lovers? The Othmar H. Ammann Awards hosted by The Bridge Hunter’s Chronicles is the contest for you.

d9ba3-10838391_376003302567488_782023004_n

Railroad bridge in Pittsford, VT.

 

The contest is named after an internationally known bridge engineer, who immigrated to the US from Switzerland and left his legacy for the next generations to awe in wonder.

The categories are:

  • Lifetime Legacy Award
  • Best Snapshot Award
  • Best Kept Secret Award
  • Mystery Bridge Award
  • Bridge of the Year Award

The Author’s Choice Awards are:

  • Best and Worst Examples of Historic Bridge Reuse
  • The Salvageable Mentioned
  • Spectacular Bridge Disaster
  • The Best Find of a Historic Bridge
  • The Biggest Bonehead Story

Nominations have been extended until Sunday December 4, 2016. Voting will proceed right after the closing and continue through the month of December. For questions and further details on each category, please visit the contest page at The Bridge Hunter’s Chronicles.

Good luck!

Abandoned New York: Fort Edward School

Union School Building in Fort Edward, NY. Early 20th century. Click for source.

Union School Building in Fort Edward, NY. Early 20th century. Click for source.

The Village of Fort Edward is located on US Route 4 between Hudson Falls and Glens Falls in Washington County, NY. The Hudson River forms the western boundary of the town, and Delaware and Hudson Railroad (now the Canadian Pacific Railway) runs through town. Historically, Fort Edward was known for being a portage between the Hudson River and the Champlain Canal. You wouldn’t know it today, but Fort Edward was once the third largest city in North American after Boston and New York City (18th century).

In the 19th century, paper mills, foundries, and sawmills sustained Fort Edward’s economy. Some companies included International Paper, Marinette Paper Company (bought out by Scott Paper Company then by Kimberly Clark), then Irving Tissue. Read more history at Lakes to Locks. General Electric (GE) opened a plant in 1942 to produce selsyn motors during WWII, and post war produced building capacitors. The plant closed in 2013 when operations relocated to Florida for cheaper labor. (Unfortunately, GE polluted the water and air in Fort Edward for decades.)

You can see the former prosperity of Fort Edward as you drive through the village. Due to the suffering economy and other typical factors of the late 20th century, finding an abandoned school was not surprising.

Fort Edward School, 1915. Click for source. (And thanks to Suzasippi for sending the image!)

Fort Edward School, 1915. Click for source. (And thanks to Suzasippi for sending the image!) Note that in this postcard image you can see the adjacent buildings (still standing).

Built as Union School, the building housed the grammar school and the high school until 1923, when the new high school was completed. Later known as the Florence E. Powers School, it housed the elementary school until a new elementary school wing was added to the high school in 1970.

Agway occupied the building until it moved further up Main Street, and since then it appears that the building has sat empty, decaying, and in need of major repairs soon. Take a look around with me.

26917211875_d706879f3e_o

Changes to the Union School: Corrugated metal façade and paved up the to the foundation.

img_5912

Union / Powers School.

img_5905

Altered windows, boarded up windows, and soffits in need of repair.

26823630202_18fcf98633_o

Agway ghost signs. The corrugated metal will make you cringe, knowing that it covers the historic windows beneath.

26823651402_d5ce6a094b_o

Neglect is evident in the brickwork.

26917249835_d2d08cc67d_o

The holes in the roof need to be repaired in order to save this building!

26311940374_df2d10e41e_o

Another view of the side. Look at the brick detail!

img_5907

Through the front door.

img_5911

Adjacent to the school – an old freight depot perhaps?

26917217765_f02ed601e4_o

Another freight building / storage building.

26849788511_c61fbbe724_o

The entire complex is abandoned.

Internet searching revealed little, other than as of 2013, the Renaissance Plan for Fort Edward included a plan to develop the Agway Complex into a multi-use complex. Hopefully that comes to fruition.

Readers, what do you know about this Fort Edward school? I’d love to hear more.

The Worthy Inn of Manchester, VT

Abandoned Vermont: Manchester Inn is one of the more popular posts in the series. The inn was the subject of debate when it closed and  then again when it was scheduled for demolition to make way for a new hotel. While there was much concern about the new hotel, the architecture fits in with the historic district setting. Have you seen it? What do you think? If you haven’t, take a look at website: Taconic.

The inn has had a few names. Here’s a quick list:

  • 1907: opens as the Orchard Park Hotel
  • 1919: bought by Julia and James Brown, renamed The Worthy Inn
  • 1945-1986: various owners, name remains The Worthy Inn
  • 1986: bought by Ann & Jay Degen, name changed the Village Country Inn
  • 2009: Inn goes into foreclosure

A reader, Gregory, kindly sent some postcard images that he thought fans of The Worthy Inn / The Village Country Inn would enjoy. Take a look!

vintage-postcard-the-worthy-inn-manchester-vermontworthy-90

worthy-inn-vt2

manchester-vermont-worthy-inn-exterior-real-photo-antique

Real photo postcard. 

worthy-inn23

manchester-vermont-worthy-inn-dining-room-real-photo

Worthy Inn dining room, real photo postcard. 

manchester-vermont-worthy-inn-lobby-real-photo-antique

Worthy Inn lobby, real photo postcard. 

worthy-inn-manchester-vermont-vt-l1891

worthy-inn343

Thank you, Gregory!

 

 

A Note 

It’s been a rough week of news. It breaks my heart to see our country so divided. I’m not going to provide a political commentary right here. I am tired of reading news and hearing politics non-stop, so much so that I deleted Twitter from my phone to give myself some breathing room.

If you’re in the Cultural Resources world, there are two big events you should mark on your calendar:

  • The National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference is this week in Houston, TX. I’m not attending this year, but I plan to attend virtually when I can (or catch the replays). Find the info here. And if you are in Houston, have a great time. I look forward to hearing your recap!

 

houston.png

  • The CRM Industry In the Age of Trump – this is a free webinar on 11/28/16 (2:00-3:00pm EST) hosted by the American Cultural Resources Association “ACRA”, and all of us should attend. We don’t know exactly what the next four years will bring, but we may need to up our advocacy and outreach efforts to Congress to preserve our laws and regulations, which govern much of our professional work.

And with that, please suggest something non-political for us to read or hear. It would be much appreciated. Thank you.