Adaptive Reuse Followed by Vacancy?

Let’s ponder adaptive reuse and vacant buildings. It’s a sad day when a chain store buys out a smaller company, whatever the reason. Does it sting any less when that chain store now occupies the existing building? What if it’s just a larger chain buying a smaller chain? Does it hurt less than any chain buying an independent store? What happens when that chain store subsequently relocates, leaving the former mom & pop store location unoccupied? It’s akin to a big box store building a massive store outside of town and then relocating to an even larger store, and leaving its original site vacant.

While in Indianapolis, I came across this closed Dunkin Donuts building with the Googie style sign.

On the corner of Washington and Pennsylvania.

On the corner of Washington and Pennsylvania.

A bit of searching revealed a long history of Roselyn Bakery, a regional franchise of 40+ locations throughout Indiana. See this photograph of the Roselyn Bakery sign. The bakery operated in many stores until 1999, at which point the business shut down bakeries and began selling only to grocery stores. Following the bakery, a Panda Express Chinese Restaurant occupied the building for a while until Dunkin Donuts moved in, operating from 2008-2013.
And now? Plans are under review. Let’s hope the Googie sign remains. Roselyn’s Bakery signs still exist around Indy. Check out Down the Road and Visual Lingual.

Closer view of the V-shape rotating sign (it's still rotating).

Closer view of the V-shape rotating sign (it’s still rotating).

What is your barometer for businesses buying one another? Or do we chalk it up to capitalism and business plans? My preference is local businesses, smaller chains, and then larger chains that respect historical significance of location and building. So, it does sting a bit less when a big business makes an effort to be a part of an existing community, as opposed to trying to compete for a removed location. And while some buildings have a greater presence in a downtown block, it’s important to consider the bigger picture. Every occupied building makes a difference for an urban core or downtown.

PresConf Recap: An Eclectic Tour of Indy

The National Trust conference always offers field sessions, many of which take attendees on a tour of the host city. My schedule did not permit such a tour, but I did spend an afternoon wandering around Indianapolis. Here are buildings that caught my eyes, all within walking distance of Union Station. Not being an Indy expert, please consult Historic Indianapolis or Indiana Landmarks if you have a question. I’m simply admiring the city.

Up close with the Soldier Sailors Monument in Columbus Circle.

Up close with the Soldier Sailors Monument in Monument Circle.

Looking up.

Looking up.

Looking up.

Looking up.

Union Station (the entire building did not fit in this photograph).

Union Station (the entire building did not fit in this photograph).

An entrance in Columbus Circle.

An entrance in Monument Circle.

The arts garden above the Washington Street and Illinois Street intersections provides great streetscape views.

The arts garden above the Washington Street and Illinois Street intersections provides great streetscape views.

Columbus Circle is actually curved; quite the impressive group of buildings.

Monument Circle is actually curved; quite the impressive group of buildings.

Nice afternoon reflections.

Nice afternoon reflections.

Near Union Station heading down Illinois Street.

An interesting pedestrian path on Washington Street; many different surfaces.

Silver in the City on Mass Ave.

Silver in the City on Mass Ave.

Indian Repertory Theater is incredible. You have to stop and stare.

Indian Repertory Theater is incredible. You have to stop and stare.

Indianapolis, you were such a pleasant surprise. I hope to return with time to explore and learn more.

PresConf Recap: Education Sessions

Gather thousands of preservationists together and there is a lot to talk about, which is more than buildings. Sessions discussed historic sites, publicity, economic revitalization, energy efficiency, social media, the 50 year “rule”, diversity, new ideas for building uses, community advocacy, bridge rehabilitation, federal laws (NEPA & NHPA), and much more. While it’s great to have so many choices for which sessions to attend, my complaint is that there are too many options. Having to choose from one of five or more at one time makes me feel like I’m missing out on important education opportunities. Of course that tends to sound like a “first world problem” but I’m letting you know how busy a National Trust conference can be.

Each session is worthy of discussion, but for this overview I’ll note some of my biggest takeaways (ideas and/or food for thought) and go into greater detail in subsequent posts. You can also find recaps from the Preservation Leadership Forum blog for the whole conference and daily recaps.

Held in the Madame Walker Theater.

Held in the Madame Walker Theater.

Conversation Starter: Diversity in Preservation: Rethinking Standards and Practices

A conversation starter worked like this: a panel provided the background information and set the stage for discussion on the topic. Audience members wrote questions on index cards and the moderator selected questions for the panel to answer. This panel discussed how preservation is building focused; preservationists speak the language of buildings. Yet, how does that impact important places that do not have significant buildings anymore (perhaps they are lost or have lost historic integrity)? Is there a way to make ordinary buildings significant? It’s the discussion of authenticity v. integrity. How much of a role does association play? Is the National Register effective in preserving our significant places? Where are we moving in the future? Are we changing standards or practices, both or none?

As you can surmise, this was a great panel for getting your preservation theory & practices brain working overtime. Rather than being told what to think, the audience participated in the conversation, making the session feel like a good class in school when we’d all sit around and talk theory.

New Media, New Audiences: Case Studies in Social Media

The much anticipated social media panel (one of the panels) with Kayla, Dana, Michelle, and Meagan. Each of us discussed how we use social for preservation work, individually and for our organizations and advocacy. Following the brief presentations, the audience divided into groups of five. We answered questions about social media, helped people work through their challenges and consider what might work for their needs. Each group was different, and all sounded like they went over well. At the end of the group breakout session, everyone wrote their lessons learned on 8×11 analog Twitter cards to tape on the wall sharing what they learned or another thought from the session.

Why is social media at a preservation conference? Simply stated, social media is not only for our personal lives. It can help our organizations be included in conversations throughout communities and across the country. It builds relationships and increases networks in a more genuine way than some might expect from social media. (After all, we preservationists love authenticity, so we’re going to be ourselves, right?) Our goal was to show that social media (whether blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) can help to share powerful messages and create support for preservation causes. And it’s not just for the younger generations, nor do you have to use all of the social media avenues. It’s also fun. In other words, go ahead, jump on the preservation + social media bandwagon. You’ll be glad you did.

Our analog Twitter wall!

Our analog Twitter wall!

Seaside as A Historic District: Evaluating the Significance of New Urbanism Developments

Another one of my favorite sessions, hearkening to the day of Mary Washington where we were fascinated by New Urbanism developments (because some, quite frankly, were creepy, whereas others seemed like good places to live. Though we were unable to decide if preservationists could live in new developments, however well designed, because of all of the historic homes and communities out there). This session presented examples of planned communities throughout American history (think Radburn, NJ, all the Levittowns, the Greenbelt communities) and then discussed new communities (new urbanism) such as Seaside, FL and Reston, VA. What is the correlation between new urbanism and historic preservation? Are these new communities too Disney-like or gentrified? And the discussion led back to our favorite terms of significance and authenticity. The best thought to share: New urbanism is learning to build new cities in the fashion of successful old cities (i.e. old urbanism?), which have survived because of historic preservation. Perhaps the two fields: historic preservation and urban planning have more in common than previously thought.

Spans to Somewhere: Creative Outcomes for Large Transportation Projects in Historic Settings

A big transportation project is near and dear to my heart due to my days with the Lake Champlain Bridge. Unfortunately many of our larger historic bridges are at risk for demolition because they no longer meet the service levels or have suffered deterioration. This session discussed the Milton-Madison Bridge as well as the Louisville, KY bridge projects and how the communities worked to mitigate the loss of their bridge. While the regulatory world (Section 106 & Section 4(f)) isn’t often discussed in National Trust sessions, it is important to remember that the laws do play a role in everyone’s lives. And community input is an important part of these regulations. Citizens (stakeholders) can help to direct the outcome of a project, when working with the decision makers. The outcome can include rehabilitation, or it can include mitigation (a unique bridge design, historic research or documentation, interpretive panels, preservation planning, etc.)

****

Those are just a few of the sessions and a few thoughts – hopefully some to get your preservation brain intrigued. If you attended the conference, what were some of your favorite sessions?

Preservation Photos #206

20131107-155608.jpg

A quiet corner in the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis where the Rebooting Historic Preservation cast theme party was held during the Preservation Conference. A great party! 

Now I want a rooster lamp.

PresConf Recap: Welcome to the Big Show, Preservationists! (Or, the Opening Plenary)

As mentioned, the preservation conference can feel like a whirlwind, in a good way. There are many field sessions and events to choose from, in addition to the education sessions. Even if you’re indecisive, you’ll likely to end up in a good place. Some events, however, are not to be missed.

The Opening Plenary is the official opening for conference attendees (though meetings and field sessions do occur prior), wherein the President of the NTHP, conference chairs, et. al, and the guest speaker welcomes everyone and gives opening remarks. This year’s opening plenary was held in the Hilbert Circle Theater in Columbus Circle in Indianapolis on Wednesday October 30.

Hilbert Circle Theater

Hilbert Circle Theater

Time for Three (self proclaimed world’s first classically trained garage band) began the plenary with a captivating performance. The group is in residence with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and has won and Indiana Innovation Award. With two violins and a double bass, this was one of my favorite live performances.

Stephanie Meeks, NTHP President, spoke about historic house museums and how our go-to system just isn’t working. Saving buildings by converting them into house museum is seldom the best use, unless you are Mount Vernon or Monticello. That model, which was once our way we knew how to save a building (think Ann Pamela Cunningham and the Mount Vernon Ladies Association) needs to be reprogrammed. Meeks based her talk on discussion from the book New Solutions for House Museums by Donna Ann Harris. (Read her entire speech here.) Meeks suggests that it’s time to reconsider how our buildings operate; in other words, bring noncommercial (i.e. museum or nonprofit) and retail side by side. Give the building life all of the time. Recharge it! We’re rethinking historic sites. The National Trust is leading by example – moving out of its current home (Dupont City HQ) to the historic Watergate building. While a difficult decision, it was the right move for the building and for the NTHP, and the building is sold with preservation easements. Agreements like this can help interested buyers and sellers to protect historic buildings while giving them the proper use.

Another view in the theatre.

Another view in the theatre.

Another highlight of the plenary was the guest speaker Henry Glassie, Professor Emeritus of Folklore at Indiana University. If you are a Mary Washington Historic Preservation graduate like me, it was a flashback to Professor Gary Stanton’s lectures about vernacular architecture. Glassie gave a lighthearted, but well informed overview of Indiana architectural history; he is a wonderful speaker. Did you know that the I-house was named so because architectural historian Fred Niffen found this style in Indiana and Illinois? All these years, I had no idea. Glassie also offered that the mobile home and the log cabin have similarities including geographic distribution in that they are both shelter of the working poor. A thoroughly enjoyable evening!

Following the opening plenary, everyone headed to the opening reception at the Athenaeum Building in Indy, built in 1890 for the culture of the community. The reception spanned multiple floors including The Rathskeller (the city’s oldest restaurant, estab. 1894) which is in the basement. Attendees mingled, talked preservation, made introductions, and enjoyed some food and drink. The event was also a host for the #BuiltHeritage Tweet-up. Finally, an opportunity to meet my preservation social media friends (wherein I hugged everyone)!

Windows above our tweetup.

Windows above our tweetup.

By the end of the night, I had scribbled notes in my #presconf notebook already filled with quotes from Meeks and Glassie; I met (sort of new) friends; experienced just a few of Indy’s beautiful historic sites, and felt that sense of preservation happiness being among “my people.” Overall, what a great evening and a fantastic way to kick off the conference.

Indy Love

20131104-092109.jpg

20131104-092233.jpg

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.

#Presconf Excitement!

Who is going to the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference in Indianapolis next week? There are so many sessions to attend, but if you get the chance to attend the session, “New Media, New Audiences: Case Studies in Social Media,” I’d love to meet you. I’m in conference preparation mode, so I thought I’d share a few links, hints, exciting events. Find the full program here.

(1) SOCIAL MEDIA! Need news and happenings or have a question for other conference attendees? Search and use #presconf on Twitter or @PresNationLive and someone will answer you, I’m sure. Wednesday night before the opening reception is the Tweet-up (7:15) and I’m looking forward to meeting all of the social media folks in “real life” as opposed to the Twitter/Instagram/blog world. (See below from @PresNationLive).

Tweetup @ #PresConf

The annual Tweetup at the National Preservation Conference will take place after the opening plenary at the Athenaeum (site of the opening reception), upstairs by the maroon banquette at 7:15 p.m. Take the elevator to get to the second floor.

(2) SPEAKERS! The Opening Plenary speaker is Henry Glassie. For anyone who studied vernacular architecture at Mary Washington, you are probably as excited as I am. The man is a vernacular scholar legend! I need to find a book for him to autograph! Prof. Stanton at Mary Washington would be proud. Check out the speaker bios.

(3) EVENTS! The Thursday night candlelight tour. This is always a conference favorite: beautiful homes, an evening walk, gazing at architecture. How many times have you wanted to go in a house as you walked by?! Well, on this tour you can! There’s also a silent film night with Indiana Landmarks and a social media cast party for the speakers. So much on one night! Browse the program, there’s no shortage of fun things to do and interesting people to meet.

(4) INDY! Some Indianapolis exploring. Following Tiffany (Historic Indianapolis) and Raina for so long, Indy looks like it’s going to be awesome. They are full of good Indy photos, idea, and tips. And many businesses are offering discounts for conference attendees. Print the list for reference and just show them your badge! Download the free Indy app to help guide you around the city. Do you live in Indy? What’s your recommended site, food stop, coffee shop, city adventure, etc?

I still have to plan out my schedule to be certain that I don’t miss a thing on my list. Lots to do before conference time! I’m sure there will be more to share before I head to the Midwest. Wish you could join, but are unable to this year? Check out this post from the Preservation Leadership Forum to see all of your options to follow along.

Preservation at the Crossroads: Indy 2013

Hope to see you there!

Hope to see you there!

The National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference will be in Indianapolis, IN from Tuesday October 29 – Saturday November 2, 2013. If you’re a preservation who loves to meet other preservationists, be inspired, explore a new city, learn and share, this is the place to be. Really, check out the program. It’s going to be a ball!

I haven’t been to a NTHP conference since 2005 (Portland, OR) and 2004 (Louisville, KY), so I’m looking forward to this one. It’s a particularly exciting conference to me because I’ll be presenting with an awesome group of preservation gals! And aside from that, I’m psyched to see Raina, meet Tiffany of Historic Indianapolis, meet the NTHP folks and others I only know via the internet or by voice, meet new friends, and catch up with those I know. It’s one big preservation party, and all of the preservation nerds are welcome. Without further ado:

Join us on Thursday October 31 from 3:00-4:30 pm. 

New Media, New Audiences!

New Media, New Audiences!

NTHPslides2

The panel!

NTHPhandout (Click here for these images in PDF version. You can also find it on the NTHP conference website). 

Preservation in Pink will feature conference updates, news, plans, happenings as the conference approaches and of course during the conference. Check in for the fun. And if you’re going, let me know. I’d love to meet you!