Heritage Turkeys of 2011

Heritage Turkeys of the Year
Who did most to raze, wreck, uproot, neglect, and generally trash our historic treasures in 2011? The envelopes, please…

By Knute Berger (Crosscut.com)

Here are Knute’s annual picks for the Heritage Turkey Awards, “examples of the worst in Northwest heritage and historic preservation during the last year.” [Follow the link above for the full stories.]

 

The Wreck of the Silver Slug

Winner: The Kalakala’s keepers
For: Good intentions, poor follow-through

The Silver Slug hangs by a slender thread, the biggest maritime heritage tragedy unfolding here. (It’s on the Fyddeye Guides’ list of 10 Most Endangered Ships of 2011.) This historic, iconic art deco ferry is moored and sinking at Tacoma’s Hylebos Waterway. …

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Fort Under Attack!

Winner: U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Boise, Idaho
For: Demolition of 1885 building and poor planning

Every year, the Idaho Historic Preservation Council gives out “Orchids” to honor historic preservation success stories. But it also bravely gives out “Onions” for heritage failures. This year, it lobbed a well-deserved one at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in Boise for its poor management of the historic Fort Boise. …

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Watch for Indian Burial Grounds!

Winner: City of Oak Harbor
For: Failure to follow the heritage roadmap

You’d think everyone would have gotten the message by now: do ground-disturbing work in an area known to have yielded Indian artifacts and human remains, and you’d better be ready to deal with the consequences. . . . So, the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation warned the city of Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island to be prepared when it began work on the $8 million Pioneer Way renovation project: Have a plan and an archaeologist on hand to monitor the work. Oak Harbor went ahead without heeding the advice and found itself in a jam. It uncovered at least seven sets of human remains, and thousands of bone fragments including an undetermined number in fill dirt that was removed from the site and must now be screened. …

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Demonizing History

Winner: Washington State GOP chair Kirby Wilbur
For: Trying to turn Milepost 31 into a poster child for waste

It’s fine to rail against boondoggles, but state GOP party chair Kirby Wilbur, a veteran of hot-talk radio, was off base last December when he attacked Milepost 31, an info center/museum for Seattle’s downtown tunnel project costing nearly $500,000. “This ridiculous museum is in no way a priority,” bellowed Wilbur. Some in the media piled on, touting it as another example of government-waste-in-a-time-of-crisis.

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Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts

Winner: Washington State Legislature
For: Slow-motion demolition of the state archives

[T]he Legislature has been slashing the number of state archive employees, from 80 in 2008 to around 40 now, and cuts proposed for 2012 could bring that down to 29. The archives face shorter hours, less service, reduced access, and the loss of valuable, knowledgeable people whose job it is to ferret out the information the public needs.

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The Shuttle Shuffle

Winner: NASA
For: Failing to locate a space shuttle at the Museum of Flight

With the U.S. Space Shuttle fleet being retired, Seattle’s Museum of Flight made a strong case for receiving one of the spacecraft. It even built a gallery to house it. But in April, word arrived that there would be no shuttle for Seattle. As a consolation prize, the museum was awarded a full-sized space shuttle trainer that will become a permanent exhibit.

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It’s Curtains for the Pantages 

Winner: City of Vancouver, BC
For: Demolition of historic theater

It’s been crumbling for a long time, and that’s part of the problem: A slow, demolition-by-neglect for Vancouver, BC’s historic Pantages Theater at Hastings and Main. The chain was founded by Seattle’s vaudeville mogul Alexander Pantages. Advocates have been warning about the slow decay of the oldest survivor of the Pantages chain; it’s been on Vancouver’s “most endangered” lists six of the last 10 years. The 1908 theater was the oldest surviving theater in Vancouver, and the second Pantages ever built.

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Vancouver’s Highway to Hell

Winner: Province of British Columbia
For: Historic cannery demolition, threat to archaeological and burial grounds

Whew, what a car wreck. Vancouver and British Columbia have reputations for being green; that’s part and parcel of the “Vancouver Miracle” of enlightened urbanization that you hear about. But make no mistake, they still love to lay pavement. Thus the Pacific Gateway Project and its highly controversial South Fraser Perimeter Road, a $1.2 billion, four-lane expressway that slices through an 8,000-year-old aboriginal archaeological site, threatens known native grave sites, and has destroyed habitat with a massive clear-cut along the river (“nuked” is how one local biologist describes it) and resulted in the demolition of the historic 115-year-old Glenrose Cannery this year by Port Metro Vancouver. How much damage can one project do?

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Giving Preservation the Byrd

Winner: WSU
For: Planned demolition of the Jensen-Byrd Building, Spokane, WA

The Jensen-Byrd Building, a local landmark, has been of concern to Spokane preservationists since 2005. It was listed on the Washington Trust’s “most endangered” list in 2006 and the Spokane Preservation Advocate’s Spokane Matters” list for 2011. This 102-year-old former warehouse is owned by Washington State University. The university, which wants to redevelop the site as part of its Riverpoint Campus, had previously stated its intention to preserve the building. But in December the regents switched course and decided to sell the historic structure to a Texan developer who will tear it down to build a 425-bed dorm complex.

(Crosscut.com) (January 9)

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Heritage Foundation Canada’s 2011 “Worst Losses List“:

Edison (formerly Empress) Hotel, Toronto, Ont.—
LOSS OF LANDMARK A BURNING ISSUE
Built in 1888, the dignified red brick building with its landmark tower overlooking the corner of Yonge and Gould streets was destroyed by an arsonist’s fire last February. It was included on the City of Toronto’s Inventory of Heritage Properties in 1974, and was designated last year under the Ontario Heritage Act in response to a demolition application. It joins a long list of heritage buildings lost due to neglect, the lack of resources to enforce property standards bylaws and owners who considered it an obstacle to profitability.

Pantages Theatre, Vancouver, B.C.—
CURTAINS FOR CITY’S OLDEST VAUDEVILLE THEATRE
Last April, Vancouver’s oldest vaudeville theatre and movie house was torn down. The landmark building on East Hastings and Main streets was the oldest remaining example of the renowned Pantages theatre chain. Vacant since 1994, the decorative and largely intact interior was suffering from water infiltration in a classic case of “demolition by neglect,” despite exhaustive efforts by several groups to revive it. It was doomed by a number of political, social and economic forces preventing its salvage.

Methodist Episcopal Picton Church, Picton, Ont—
BULLDOZED BY NELECT FROM CITY COUNCIL
The 135-year-old landmark known as the “Brick Church” was not given a fighting chance last fall when a demolition permit was quickly issued. The owners said they attempted to sell it to someone who could convert the space for another use, but without success. As a shocked community looked on, the historic church was razed and a piece of Prince Edward County’s history was lost. Members of Council in favour of giving 30 days for interested parties to apply for a heritage designation were outvoted before Council issued the demolition permit. The church’s demise acted as a catalyst for change and for the first time, heritage became a municipal election issue.

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