Wednesday, July 30, 2014

On Urban Blight Removal VS. Renovation & Re-use

Too often, historic preservation and building re-use and renovation is not part of the discussion when cities address the issues of "blight" and abandonment. Progressive cities and urbanists know that demolition alone causes vacant lots in urban neighborhoods, which itself is a blight, and a loss to the cohesive fabric of a community. Here is a balanced article which discusses the ever important issue of saving what can be saved. Because once it's gone..

Blight in Toledo

On the Disposable Culture..

A vacant house in Brownsville, circa 2011 (now demolished).
When buildings are deemed disposable, like so much of what we have today, they are not regarded for their historical interest or architectural value. We are living in a culture where things are created to be meaningless and valueless, aside from their intended use. It is hard to imagine a time when things were made to be beautiful, when things were meant to endure and be maintained rather than being disposed of when repairs were called for. When buildings are demolished, the message is that these places are not worth repairing, and that the town itself, and the history of it, is just as disposable as that one building.

Monday, July 21, 2014

RIP: Hitzrot House - McKeesport

"Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and, ultimately, deserves... And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed."  -Ada Louise Huxtable, Farewell to Penn Station, 1963

The Hitzrot House was built in 1892 for Dr. Henry Hitzrot, and stood at 626 Market Street in McKeesport, Pennsylvania.  It was designed by noted Pittsburgh architect Frederick Sauer. It later became the local Eagles Club.  The building was demolished by the city on July 21, 2014.  It was the second significant historic building lost in McKeesport during the month of July, the other being the McKeesport Water Filtration Roundhouse.

No effort was made to salvage the old house parts or the antiques inside the Hitzrot House. Sadly, the city of McKeesport shows no interest in historic preservation matters.  The building could have been stabilized and mothballed for less than the cost of demolition. 

"The enemy of the dying city is not the abandoned building, but the circumstances that caused the building to become abandoned. Demolition is the erosion of a city, the removal of a city, the death of a city." - Jonathon Denson

Here is the video I took of the demolition: