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  #1  
Old Posted Mar 23, 2020, 1:47 AM
llamaorama llamaorama is offline
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Is there any historic preservation interest for late midcentury places?

When I say places, I don't just mean restoring and preserving major edifices that were architecturally significant from day 1. I mean whole neighborhoods or landscapes. There are a lot of preserved main streets and small towns from the late 19th and early 20th century. Is there an equivalent for that brewing anywhere to preserve or re-use not just a random midcentury skyscraper but perhaps a whole district? Has there ever been an attempt to preserve a dying enclosed mall or shopping center for example by uncovering the attributes that makes it historic in a present day sense.

Last week I re-read Stephen King's Salems Lot. Also I watched Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil with my parents. It got me thinking.

In Salem's Lot, it is 1975, and the spooky house where the action takes place is from around 1930, or about 45 years old. One of the antagonists is selling antique furniture. While it is a horror story, it also kind of captures a vibe from that era when that book was published. People were into historic restoration. The whole "Yuppie creative from NY goes to rural New England" is like a trope of 1980s movies. Isn't that also what happened in Beetlejuice? That's also when This Old House became a show on PBS. As a 31 year old millenial I remember my aunt being one of those boomers who was into antiques and old stuff.

In Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the main character is a a gay man living in Savannah where he restores old houses. Again, its the 1980s and the historic accoutrements of the bourgeious in Spacey's characters words were things from the 1920s and 30s, so about 50 years old.

Well it got me thinking. 50 years ago from now was like the 1970s. Is there any interest in protecting places from the 70s, things, the whole aesthetic, equivalent how in that same time period people were trying to save the material culture of the late 19th and early 20th century? I don't see many people in my generation having as much of an interest in the recent past as maybe our parents were, maybe kitsch is one of those trends that comes and goes?
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2020, 2:14 AM
mhays mhays is offline
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The postwar period was a temporary interlude where the basics of architecture and cities were often ignored, much to our cities' detriment.
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2020, 2:24 AM
llamaorama llamaorama is offline
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Originally Posted by mhays View Post
The postwar period was a temporary interlude where the basics of architecture and cities were often ignored, much to our cities' detriment.
You mean in the context of city center urbanism, yes you are right.

But in terms of American culture, it was such a special period. And in cities that grew rapidly after WW2, some of these suburban places are anchors for swaths of metro areas with millions of people.

What I am talking about preserving might be some classic examples of logo buildings or retail buildings which are interesting and expressive and create spaces where people can gather while hosting a range of businesses and activities. Today's middle ring suburbs are actually very interesting places, they are often very diverse and have a unique mix of interesting things going on.
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2020, 3:10 AM
mhays mhays is offline
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I was aware of most of the 70s and all of the 80s. Suburbia was mostly just crappy.
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2020, 9:57 AM
isaidso isaidso is offline
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No. In Toronto we haven't learned from past mistakes and will lose practically everything from this era. Some that are getting re-clad could potentially be restored to their original glory one day but most are being bulldozed. The current generation don't value this period of architecture. When people sound the alarm 30 years from now it will be too late.
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2020, 3:19 PM
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Many neighborhoods in Houston built in the 1960s and 1970s are deed restricted, and essentially the neighborhood structure and style has been frozen in place, so that acts as a de-facto preservation movement. Many of these neighborhoods also have public facilities such as schools and churches that are used as designed.

That said, even though preserved, many of the homes suffer from poor initial design (bad siding, bad and failing single pane windows, bad insulation practices (mold or no insulation), sinking foundations, low ceilings/small rooms, odd floor plans that cannot be simply modified, aluminum wiring, poor framing, poor materials in general, etc). Had the neighborhoods not been deed restricted, many homes would have been tear-downs and replaced with newer homes, as the lots are large by current standards.

Homes built in the 50s and early 60s seem to have fewer problems than those built later.
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2020, 4:36 PM
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Originally Posted by mhays View Post
I was aware of most of the 70s and all of the 80s. Suburbia was mostly just crappy.
I live in an area you are dismissing as 'crappy'. Most of the houses here are north of 40 years old with very few new ones (if any) being built in established neighborhoods and the area is still highly sought after due to good schools and well built homes...with much better build quality than you'll find from the past 10-20 years that will cost at least 2-3x as much.
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2020, 8:20 PM
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Not sure if it's happened yet, probably not, because I don't see it listed as an historic district, but the Rancho Estates neighborhood in Long Beach, CA is a "treasure trove" of mid-20th Century tract houses designed by Cliff May. Last I read, there was some interest in designating this as a historic district:

The Cliff May Ranchos of Rancho Estates - Long Beach

Newcomers bring a wave of recognition and design flair to this special SoCal neighborhood of Cliff May Ranchos











Link: https://www.eichlernetwork.com/artic...beach?page=0,0
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2020, 8:26 PM
mhays mhays is offline
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Originally Posted by JManc View Post
I live in an area you are dismissing as 'crappy'. Most of the houses here are north of 40 years old with very few new ones (if any) being built in established neighborhoods and the area is still highly sought after due to good schools and well built homes...with much better build quality than you'll find from the past 10-20 years that will cost at least 2-3x as much.
I'm mostly talking about commercial construction. Often, single-family construction quality has gotten worse since then, except those required by code such as energy and safety elements. But being better than today isn't much of a hurdle.
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2020, 9:05 PM
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Originally Posted by mhays View Post
I'm mostly talking about commercial construction. Often, single-family construction quality has gotten worse since then, except those required by code such as energy and safety elements. But being better than today isn't much of a hurdle.
Most commercial construction is ephemeral; here today, gone tomorrow and is built as such unless we're talking high profile trophy projects like a skyscraper or museum.


For a house built in the 70's, there's a huge window between when it was built and today and that era is well known for build quality; compared to before and after. Our house has required very little in the 10 years we've had it apart from an AC unit and aesthetic updates. Our second house is 25 years old and has been more problematic.
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Old Posted Mar 23, 2020, 9:07 PM
Obadno Obadno is offline
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Originally Posted by llamaorama View Post
When I say places, I don't just mean restoring and preserving major edifices that were architecturally significant from day 1. I mean whole neighborhoods or landscapes. There are a lot of preserved main streets and small towns from the late 19th and early 20th century. Is there an equivalent for that brewing anywhere to preserve or re-use not just a random midcentury skyscraper but perhaps a whole district? Has there ever been an attempt to preserve a dying enclosed mall or shopping center for example by uncovering the attributes that makes it historic in a present day sense.
Mid Century-modern is changing from tacky to classic

Most preservation Ive seen is in the forms of single family homes or some hotels, but not offices or anything like that

I think you are more likely to see revival mid-century design than a preserved office
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  #12  
Old Posted Mar 23, 2020, 10:57 PM
authentiCLE authentiCLE is offline
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Sounds like historic preservation in mid-century and newer neighborhoods is dealt with with onerous HOA rules. Couldn't pay me to live in one of those neighborhoods, but a side effect will be very period-looking housing stock.
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  #13  
Old Posted Mar 24, 2020, 2:02 AM
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There was/is a widespread, official effort to preserve the historic Doo Wop (Googie on the West Coast) motels in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, after some of those started getting demolished. I think the Motel District had the highest concentration of Doo Wop/Googie architecture in the Northeast US at its peak. Half of it is gone now, though, which lead to preservation.

I did a photothread of the neighborhood, but the links to the pictures are now dead.

The neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The other surrounding boroughs: Wildwood, North Wildwood, and West Wildwood (collectively called "the Wildwoods") also have some of the same architecture, but Wildwood Crest has the most.
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