Thursday, May 21, 2015

Grand Theatre, Starkey-McCully Block, Preservation Awards at Historic Landmarks Commission

Tonight the 21st the Historic Landmarks Commission meets, and mostly it's full of very nice things.

Proposed sign over the High Street entry
You may recall the matters of the Grand Theatre renovation and the Starkey-McCully block renovation.

The staff reports are out, they recommend approval, and truly it looks like there's nothing further to say further about these terrific developments downtown. (Grand here, Starkey-McCully here.)

So that's great to see.

Between renovations at the Salem Arts Building, the McGilchrist & Roth buildings, the Grey building with Amadeus, and now these two - we should pause a moment to appreciate the clustering and passion at this moment in time. There's some fabulous restoration and renovation work going on in downtown right now. Hopefully that can continue, and other buildings and storefronts in turn get the TLC they deserve. Our stock of downtown buildings is a wonderful resource and with adjustments to streets and sidewalks, our downtown can become the vibrant and more prosperous center we all want it to be.

Looking south on Commercial at Court, May 1913
Jaywalking hadn't been invented yet!
Annual Historic Preservation awards are also on the agenda.

Benjamin I. Maxwell Awards: for outstanding contributions to the preservation, restoration and maintenance of Salem historic resources.
  • Doug Doty & Gayle Caldarazzo-Doty; Roth McGilchrist Rehabilitation
  • Scott & Heidi Grew; Elizabeth Watt House Preservation
Virginia P Green Award: for exemplary service on behalf of historic preservation within the community.
And here's more evidence that bicycling and historic preservation are natural allies!

David Fox: Champion for bikes
and for old buildings
Historic Landmarks Commission Chair Award: for excellent service on behalf of the Historic Landmarks Commission Programs.
  • David Fox, Fox Blue Printing
If you've never been to Fox Blue, check out the panorama on the wall from May, 1913. It's a multi-modal vision of downtown traffic with horses, carts, bikes, automobiles and people on foot. It's also crazy vibrant. In important ways, what we had a century ago represents in modified form what we should want today. Our mid-century experiment in hydraulic autoism has failed us, and we need to go "back to the future."

Finally, before we let ourselves be too self-congratulatory, we should remember Howard Hall, a huge, huge failure for the City of Salem and its corporate "commitment" to Historic Preservation.
Salem: Heritage All Star
The HLC did its part, voting more than once to deny the demolition application, but City Council failed utterly on this.

The reality of politics requires that we often hold outright contradictions in mind at the same time, tolerant of the ambiguity and cognitive dissonance. But this is an especially egregious failure in an "historic all-star community."

The Commission meets tonight, Thursday the 21st, at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, Salem Civic Center (City Hall), 555 Liberty St. SE.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Salem Weekly has more on the new programming and plans at the Grand Theatre -

It includes some car-free street fun:

"The Grand is also reaching out to the Elsinore, Pentacle and Children’s Educational Theaters for collaboration and innovative projects.

One of them will occur in August when Meduri says, “we’re going to shut down the street, High between Court and State for a block party between 2 – 7 p.m.” The hope is to have everyone involved in theater arts in town – and the public – participate in the colorful, tuneful extravaganza."