Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sustainable Fairview Files to Demolish Six Buildings at Former Training Center

Last week it looks like on the 12th, Sustainable Fairview Associates filed for permits to demolish some of the old buildings out at the former Fairview Training Center.

One of the halls likely to be demolished
(I think this is Chamberlain)
There are six permit applications all listing 2250 Strong Road. (You can search here, but individual permits aren't linkable, alas.)

Withycombe, Smith Cottage, Chamberlain, Kozer, and "House" (x2) are listed on the permit applications.

Originally called the State Institution for the Feeble-Minded, and established in 1907, the Training Center was closed in 2000 and sold to Sustainable Fairview in 2004.

The plan for Fairview was to reuse some of the buildings, but not all of them.

Reuse Plan from Fairview Master Plan
(Click to enlarge, inset detail added)
Originally in the Master Plan, "SFA [Sustainable Fairview] intends to restore and reuse the existing buildings wherever possible," but the set of demolition permits represents a change, as the particular buildings here proposed for demolition were first identified for "full renovation within 10 years" rather than for demolition. (They are in the arc of buildings in light robins egg blue.)

So, is this a preservation moment?

I'm inclined to think not. I believe that Sustainable Fairview will still preserve some of the buildings, just maybe not the ones they originally thought. That is, I think of them as having good faith intentions and the will to follow-through.

I interpret this as I do the Blind School and the State Hospital. Not all buildings are worth preserving or can be preserved.  What is especially important is that a subset of the buildings are preserved, hopefully the most historically important and the most architecturally distinguished.

Le Breton Hall, the first building on the campus, dating from 1908, seems to me to be the one to worry about most.

Maybe you will have a different opinion on all this, and it would be good to discuss them. In the range of opinions, this is a tentative one. Because of course, once they're gone, they're gone. 

The loss of the other buildings at the Blind School is one reason why Howard Hall is so important: The Hospital demolished all the rest, and Howard Hall is the only remaining building.

Similarly, the Dome Building at the State Hospital is more important than the other buildings on the North Campus, and it's important to save the outstanding example or instance of a group of buildings.

Hopefully the demolition permits at Fairview aren't just because the buildings are attracting vandalism, but are signs that redevelopment at this site, dormant for too long, is heating up.

(With more details or thoughts this post may be updated in the next few days.)


Anonymous said...

It may have slipped your mind, but as with the Belluschi clinic, none of these buildings appear to be designated a "local landmark" or any other listing -

(the city's posted the pdf w/o ocr, so you have to search it by hand it seems)

Consequently, demolition permits for the Fairview buildings will not need to go through any historic review.

Anonymous said...

And - the two houses are almost certainly on the parcel that will be the Eric Olsen development. They are marked E1 and E2 on the "reuse plan" map you posted.

KandN said...

Guess it's about time to give up on the idea Fairview could ever be turned into a quirky venue for McMenamin's--similar to their Edgefield.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks for the info, anon!

I see now that the two houses, which were not identified for reuse, appear to be headed towards approval.

The other four halls, which had been identified for reuse, now may require additional process. There's a note in the permit app: "Building ID for reuse. to demo, need an amendment to the refinement plan is required."

That looks promising! If one of the criticisms of the Simpson Hills refinement plan was that it didn't conform to the master plan's "plain English sense," here in this context the master plan once more seems to have some force.

So it is possible that the applications will go on hold until an amended refinement plan can be filed - which might require a Public Hearing at the Planning Commission.

@KandN - something like that was never in the Master Plan, so yeah, that's a real remote possibility. There are more serious prospects at the North Campus of the State Hospital with the Dome Building for something like that.

If there is in fact a new refinement plan, we will learn more then for sure!

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Chamberlain it turns out is by W.C. Knighton - who did Deepwood, the Supreme Court building, and the Bayne block. Charles Burggraf is associated with Withycombe.

The Fairview Historic Inventory has more details. (There might be more to say another time.)

Since the last time I looked, which was apparently over two years ago, the City has created a web page for the main Fairview documents.

These include the Master Plan, the three adopted Refinement Plans for each sub-development, and other supporting docs. The web page is a helpful resource.