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UrbanSoutherner

Historic Preservation

How Important are Historic Structures?  

62 members have voted

  1. 1. How Important are Historic Structures?

    • Very Imporant - Part of a city's fundamental character ...
      36
    • Somewhat Important - Must be balanced with progress ....
      23
    • Not Important - Newer and bigger is better ...
      0
    • Could Not Care Less ...
      2


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How important is historic preservation in creating a vibrant urban environment? Do real urban environments need historic structures to give them a feeling of age and character? Can new urbanism replace the "real thing" so to speak by copying the form?

I started thinking about this after visiting Charlotte recently. I ate a restaurant called Ratcliffe on the Green. The restaurant is in what was a Mission-style 1920s florist shop--a landmark in downtown Charlotte. When a developer came along to build a 10-story condo tower on the site, the city negotiated with the developer to save the florist shop. The shop was literally moved across the street. The foundation for the Ratcliffe on the Green condos was created. The shop was placed back in its original location. The condo building was built incorporating the old store into its lower levels. Was this justified or overkill?

I will say my bias is that it was justified. It is a wonderful architectural space in a downtown that lost many of its landmarks and historic structures. BTW, the restaurant is excellent if you are ever in Charlotte.

I think that this topic is especially relevant for southern cities. They were historical smaller than their nothern counterparts until the sun belt boom after World War II. With fewer historic resources to begin with, is it essential for southern cities to work hard to preserve them?

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I think its essential to save as many "architecturally" significant historical buildings as possible. This doesn't mean to save something, just because its old. However, the most exciting (and vibrant) cities are those that have a significant amount of diversified architecture built during different time periods, which show how the city developed, as well as making the street atmosphere more visually pleasing.

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I agree- there is a need to save important structures, but it is not necessary to save everything. You need a mix to make it work.

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Many people don't realize the very first city in the Colonies to declare Independance from England was Charlotte. (sorry Philadelphia). One of the reasons this isn't well know because the courthouse where it occured no longer exists. Only the plaque remains in the DT area.

This is why one of NC's mottos is "First in Freedom"

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^Interesting, I never knew this. Since joining the forums, I've also learned about the Carolina Gold Rush. Maybe Charlotte needs to do a better job of promoting its history.

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only the very most important structures must be saved, everything else does not matter. else you have everyplace someone famous visited being saved. I rather see an ugly old building be replaced with a nice shiny skyscraper, but if the building looks respectable maybe it should be saved. It does depend on who owns it.

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Certainly older buildings that are architecturally or historically significant should be saved. In Columbia there is precious little left from the antebellum era (because of the fire of 1865) so I believe everything still left from that era needs to be saved whenever possible.

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While I don't advocate saving every historic or old structure at all costs, I think every REASONABLE effort should be made to do so. In virtually EVERY CITY, so much has already been lost. Tearing something down is usually the easy route, but seldom the only route. In Europe older buildings are renovated or put to a different use when obsolesence occurs. We could learn from their example.

In Columbia, the Palmetto building was slated to be torn down in order to build the Palmetto Center. Preservationists fought it and the Palmetto Center was redesigned to exlude the Palmetto building parcel. Today the two buildings exist side by side and provide a wonderful contrast between old and new. The Palmetto building is now being renovated in a boutique hotel. It will be a great addition to Main Street. Thank goodness the preservationists prevailed.

When Charleston built the Omni/Charleston Place complex, a ten year battle ensued over the commercial store fronts on Meeting Street and the height of the hotel. Compromises were made, the storefronts were saved and the hotel was reduced in height and the higher floors were set back from street. Today, not only is the hotel a success, the storefronts are all leased and the pedestrian traffic is very strong. The resulting retail anchor fueled the revitalization of King Street. By all accounts, the end result was better than the original plans.

Sometimes the case for preservation can't be made. The alternatives are not feasible. But from my experience those are the exceptions, not the rule. So often someone wants to build new by tearing down a historic structure, when just across the street is a vacant parking lot! Why can't the new building go on the parking lot.

Also just because a certain structure wasn't the site of a historic event, or is an example of an architectural style that is rare for that area, doesn't mean it shouldn't be saved. It is contributes to the historic appearance of it's surroundings, that is sufficient in my mind. One or two buildings in one block doesn't create the complete picture that a full block of buildings or a whole neighborhood does.

Charlotte is a city that has a dearth of historic buildings in it's core. Urban renewal robbed it of something that cannot be replaced. That is the primary reason that it's downtown doesn't hold much appeal to me.

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Historical things are pretty important,money wise too.Some should be saved,some shouldnt.

Sometimes i wish Miami would have more historical things beside indians.Probably like a Civil War fort or something.

But since Miami is a young city it doesnt have many historical objects/places.

That circle they just found might be good for tourists and stuff,just tell people the aliens did it and they'll come.

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I voted for somewhat important.

Coming from a city that prides itself on preservation, I understand and truly believe that some historical structures need to be saved. These places give identity to cities, especially Southern ones, and in my hometown's case, can give economic sustenance to their older areas.

However, my hometown, IMO, can be obsessed with preservation. It is absolutely ridiculous to preserve every Charleston single-house on the block, especially if they are dilapidated, cockroach and rat-infested crack houses that sit along entry-ways into the city. City leaders need to create historic areas or districts and keep those areas that way. Expansion of these districts should be allowed only in extreme cases. If this is not monitored, a city can hinder itself from progress. People need to realize that progress does require good planning and a little sacrifice.

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I voted for somewhat important.

Coming from a city that prides itself on preservation, I understand and truly believe that some historical structures need to be saved. These places give identity to cities, especially Southern ones, and in my hometown's case, can give economic sustenance to their older areas.

However, my hometown, IMO, can be obsessed with preservation. It is absolutely ridiculous to preserve every Charleston single-house on the block, especially if they are dilapidated, cockroach and rat-infested crack houses that sit along entry-ways into the city. City leaders need to create historic areas or districts and keep those areas that way. Expansion of these districts should be allowed only in extreme cases. If this is not monitored, a city can hinder itself from progress. People need to realize that progress does require good planning and a little sacrifice.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You are so right. Yes we should save some historic buildings that are of significance, but I don't think cities should save every single thing just because it's 50 to 100 years old. If we saved every historic structure, what would we have to show our descendants 100 years from now? As I said before, save some historic buildings, but we are living in the 21st century and should build structures that reflect the times we are living in.

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You are so right. Yes we should save some historic buildings that are of significance, but I don't think cities should save every single thing just because it's 50 to 100 years old. If we saved every historic structure, what would we have to show our descendants 100 years from now? As I said before, save some historic buildings, but we are living in the 21st century and should build structures that reflect the times we are living in.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Exactly! We can be so busy saving every single structure from 200-300 years ago that we forget to build classic contemporary buildings that reflect the 21st century. You want to have a thriving city that can be flexable through the changing years, not a virtual theme park where every building looks the same.

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I believe efforts should be made to save significant historic buildings. But a lot needs to be looked at. Is it fairly cost effective to save/renovate a historic building compared to a new replacement. Is the building structurally sound and safe?

I don't think buildings need to be saved just because there old, they may need removing for better progress, but we should slow down and look at the proposed development very carefully.

Here in Winston-Salem, in the 50's Old Salem was threatened to be razed for retail development. Local citizens got together and we now have one of the best living history sites in the country. Had a shopping area been built there, the soul of the town would have been lost forever. And if you think about it, a 50's era shopping complex probably would be an extreme eyesore now if it hadn't been replaced already.

One example of reuse I like is the conversion of factories into office/loft space. Like the Forsyth Co. Administration Building.

comm_ctr_8683.jpg

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I started thinking about this after visiting Charlotte recently. I ate a restaurant called Ratcliffe on the Green. The restaurant is in what was a Mission-style 1920s florist shop--a landmark in downtown Charlotte. When a developer came along to build a 10-story condo tower on the site, the city negotiated with the developer to save the florist shop. The shop was literally moved across the street. The foundation for the Ratcliffe on the Green condos was created. The shop was placed back in its original location. The condo building was built incorporating the old store into its lower levels. Was this justified or overkill?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

When a building is taken out of contex like the Ratcliffe was, they look rediculous. I see no merit in saving a structure just to have it beotchized. When the Ratcliffe was part of an entire row of similarly sized buidings it was a perfect blend. Now it's an afterthought.

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I say there must be a blend of new and old. As stated before not everything needs to be saved but if there is a building that has a direct link to the history of this country, state or city I say save it. I particularly remember thinking this when the tread a differnet Charlotte. Now I know progress need space in a central core but some of those brick highrises could have been saved. I am a fan of brick and art deco so maybe I am a little biased but I feel a large city should have transition zones from old to new. Plus if shiny new scrapers need to be built then build them in a location near the old core. That way you could have basically two buisness districts. How cool would Charlotte would have been IF there were the shiny new then a couple of blocks away there was the old mid and highrises. I know I don't know enough about the QC to really eloborate but it would have been a grand sight to see driving on 77 towards uptown.

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The only problem with the old office towers, they were not designed for all the needs for todays office requirements. Some could have been used for other uses, but to update these building would too costly.

One example: 230 South Tryon St. is being converted to condos, because it would cost too much to upgrade to Class A business. They are recycling this building for another use.

I do not know how much could have been saved.

Go to Wilmington, NC and see how they have mixed the old with the new in downtown. There are buildings gone, that I remember with I was gowing up,

and I miss them when I go back. The water front looks better now than in the 50s.

I was on the USS North Carolina when they towed it up the Cape Fear river.

We hit a floating restaurant as they were turning into it's mooring slip. The owner put a purple star on the restaurant.

The USS North Carolina was worth saving.

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