Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Atlanta's Central Library in Danger!

Threatened in Atlanta: Breuer's Last Design

By Angela Serratore Online Only Mar. 23, 2009
One of the most notable pieces of modern architecture in the American South may be demolished and replaced with a new design.

Atlanta officials are pushing for the demolition of Marcel Breuer's Fulton County-Central Library, conceptualized in 1969 and completed in 1980, a year after the architect's death.

Last November, Fulton County voted in favor of a referendum that would direct $275 million dollars to its libraries. If private donations come through, $84.4 million of that would go to a new central library in Atlanta's downtown.

The current economic climate may impede those matching donations, however, and preservationists fear that the county will sell the library to raise money for a new one. Given the library's prime downtown location, the site could become attractive to developers of large-scale commercial spaces.

"It would be difficult or impossible to find a buyer interested in preservation of the library if the goal is maximum price for the property," said Thomas Little, chair of the Georgia chapter of Documentation and Conservation of Sites of the Modern Movement (DOCOMOMO), in an e-mail.

On Mar. 11, the Georgia chapter of DOCOMOMO, organized a tour of the library, the second such event. Last fall, the group presented a symposium that invited Breuer scholars and other preservationists to speak about the significance of the Central Library.

Surrounded by skyscrapers, the library can be easy to overlook.
"A lot of people don't know it's there," says Mark McDonald, president and CEO of the Georgia Trust, based in Atlanta. "I think the building is one of Atlanta's finest works of architecture, and I we should do our best to advocate that it could be continued to be used as a library. Atlanta just does not have many buildings by world-renowned architects."

The leading voice in the campaign for a new Central Library says the building's importance isn't immediately apparent. "From a design point of view, it probably means a lot to those in the [architecture] field, but for the average citizen who sees it, it's just not there," Commissioner Robb Pitts told the architectural publication Metropolis in February of 2009.

In 1973, Breuer became the first architect to be granted a one-man show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and, along with his Harvard colleagues Paul Rudolph and Philip Johnson, is often called part of the foundation of American Modernism.

Breuer's Central Library is widely recognized by scholars to be his last fully realized project, and its design is closely tied to that of New York City's Whitney Museum, perhaps his most important work in the United States. The structure is marked by textured concrete panels and several beveled windows that face the streetscape. Like the Whitney, the library's upper levels cantilever over its entryway, creating an open plaza at street level, a concept that reinforces its accessibility.

The library, Little says, "represents the beginning of Atlanta's desire to become a 'world-class' city, which led to construction of other landmarks such as Richard Meier's High Museum and its successful bid for the 1996 Olympics."

Local artist Max Eternity, along with New York University Breuer scholar Isabelle Hyman, have turned to the blogosphere as a grassroots method of garnering support for the library. To demolish a modern structure so integrated with its environment, Eternity writes on the blog, "seems sociologically, aesthetically, and historically incomprehensible—to say nothing of economically wasteful."

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

House Budget Cuts Archaeology Protection and Education Program

The Georgia House budget for SFY 2010 cuts $279,195 from the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The cut, which appears to have been based on erroneous information, would gut the state's archaeological program, resulting in:

  • Substantial delay of federal stimulus projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as well as other federally funded or permitted development projects that must be reviewed and processed by HPD under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as Amended;
  • Elimination of three positions, including the state archaeologist;
  • Elimination of ongoing legally-required surveys for projects on DNR lands that would then have to be contracted out at an estimated cost of $1,090,000/year;
  • Elimination of funding for storage of the state's priceless (and publicly-owned) artifact collections recovered from state lands;
  • Elimination of Federally-mandated American Indian consultations;
  • Elimination of technical assistance to state agencies and citizens. Last year the program provided technical assistance to over 500 communities across Georgia.

Please call Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville (404-656-5038), Senator Chip Rogers of Woodstock (404-463-1378), Senator Tommie Williams of Lyons (404-656-0089), Senator Ross Tolleson of Perry (404-656-0081), Representative Ben Harbin of Evans (404-463-2247), Representative Jerry Keen of St. Simon's Island (404-656-5052), and Representative Mark Burkhalter of Johns Creek (404-656-5072).

Call your own representative and senator as well. Ask them to restore full funding of $279,195 to the Archaeology Protection and Education Budget.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

2009 Preservation Bash Update

Plans are underway for the 2009 Preservation Bash: The Art of Preservation. We are really excited about all of the progress we are making and even though invitations only went out last week, we have raised almost $20,000.

This year, instead of a formal ball, we have decided to have a more relaxed cocktail party, where everyone can have a bash! The 2009 Preservation Bash will be held as Mason Murer Fine Art and Decor will be provided by Tony Brewer and Company. The musical group Kingsized will be performing a variety of tunes, including an Elvis set, which you will not want to miss!

Jerry Dilts and Associates, our presenting caterer, will tantalize your taste buds with his passed hors oeuvres, and Avante Catering, Carole Parks Catering, Dennis Dean: A Catering Company, Masterpiece Events, Sun in My Belly, and Tastes by Patti will offer guests an array of culinary delights from the cocktail buffet.

We are still collecting items for our silent auction but so far we have a variety of vacation packages and fine art on which to bid.

We are also looking for volunteers for the night of the Bash! Please let us know if you are interested.

We look forward to seeing you at the 2009 Preservation Bash! For more information check our website.

Mary Railey Binns
Special Events Coordinator

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Spotlight on Mary Ray

The Mary Ray Memorial School one of The Georgia Trust of Historic Preservation's 2009 Places in Peril was the site of a community workday this past Saturday, March 14th. The Georgia Trust has been engaging this year's Places in Peril with spotlight events. "Each spotlight event has been different, as the needs of each endangered property have been different" said Georgia Trust President, Mark C. McDonald. He went on to say "We are actively working to engage the public of our Places in Peril using these events. The spotlight for the Mary Ray Memorial School was highly successful in generating public participation. Despite rain and cold temperatures local as well as volunteers from around the southeast showed great enthusiasm as they participated in the workday.

The Mary Ray Memorial School has been the hub of the Raymond Community for a century now and although it had fallen into disrepair in the late 1980's there is a strong grassroots group working on the building's comeback. Deeded to the trustees of the people of the town of Raymond in the early part of the 20th Century the Mary Ray School was used as a School until the late 1940's thereafter becoming a community center.

The workday began with volunteers arriving and being greeted with Paula Stanford's homemade sausage and biscuits. After a few moments of conversation and organizing of ladders and tools the volunteers were gathered together by Allen Robertson, President of the Mary Ray Schoolhouse organization. Allen greeted everyone and discussed the projects that would occur throughout the day emphasizing that the point of the day's activity was not only to work but also to have fellowship and enjoy the day. Mark C. McDonald thereafter announced The Georgia Trust would be awarding a matching grant to the Mary Ray Memorial School as part of its Partners in the Field Program for the amount of $10,000 for the restoration and stabilization of the building. In announcing the grant, Mark said" The volunteers of the Mary Ray School embody the very spirit of preservation and it is an honor for The Georgia Trust to be working with this group."

After a morning of hard work, from everyone ranging in age from 90 to 7, volunteers adjourned for Lunch which included fried chicken, vegetables and an array of homemade desserts. At the close of the day much of the building material was recycled after the removal of a later bathroom addition. The porch was painted and large sections of recycled trim pieces were scraped and prepped for future installation. A large section of flooring was replaced as well as a section of beaded ceiling. Debris was removed from the pockets behind wainscoting and other areas in the interior. Volunteer Cindy Eidson said, "The whole experience was wonderful and I really feel as if I have a vested interest with the building now."

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Expected Rain will not dampen Workday Enthusiasm

Project Mary Ray is a workday planned to take place in Coweta County for Saturday the 14th. Mary Ray Memorial Schoolhouse Organization President Allen Robertson said early Friday morning, "All plans are still in place despite rain forecasts". The workday will be a chance for preservation enthusiasts to be involved hands on with the stabilization and restoration efforts for The Mary Ray Memorial School. The building was deeded to the Trustees of the People of the Town of Raymond in the early part of the 20th century and had harbored community activities until falling into disrepair in the late 1980's.

Volunteers for Project Mary Ray will not only work with locals in Raymond Saturday but will also be provided a southern style lunch. Lene Robertson says "we will have fried chicken with all the fixins and an array of homemade desserts"

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Message from Mark McDonld, President of The Georgia Trust

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation now has a blog, and it is a pleasure to welcome you and your comments.

What is an organization primarily concerned with the preservation of old buildings doing with a blog? The answer is plenty.

First of all, we preserve things that have intrinsic value – this applies to the eighteenth century city plan of Savannah and the 1979 Fulton County Library in downtown Atlanta designed by Marcel Bruer and many places in between. The point is, we want to preserve the best things of our culture, not just because they are old.

Secondly, we want to use state of the art tools and communication devices to preserve buildings and get the word out. We know that if we are going to have any impact in the 21st century we have to involve as many people in our movement as possible and get the latest news from the from the grassroots level.

So please help us out with your comments and calls to action. Preservation must stay relevant if it will continue to be a transformative tone in American culture.

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Coverage on Mary Ray Work Day in Newnan Times-Herald

Mary Ray School Cleanup Saturday

Preservation Workday to help save one of Georgia's historic schools is Saturday, March 14, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. at Mary Ray Memorial School, 771 Raymond Shedden Rd., south of Newnan in Raymond off Hwy. 16 East.

Would you like to help preserve one of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation's "Places in Peril"? Here's an opportunity to do some hands-on, on-site preservation work.

Volunteers will spend the day cleaning, painting and doing carpentry work. All skill levels are welcome. Lunch is provided. You must provide your own transportation to the school.

Wear clothing that is comfortable and can get very dirty. Tools and equipment will be provided.

To register, contact Jordan Poole at 706-506-9864 or
Link to Article
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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Classics at the Castle featuring Robert McDuffie

On Sunday, February 22, 2009, members of the The Georgia Trust gathered for an intimate concert featuring world-renowned violinist Robert McDuffie, who was accompanied by pianist Elizabeth Pridgen.

Our thanks to Mr. McDuffie, Mrs. Pridgen, Mary Grimes Pilosi, and everyone who attended, especially our patrons,
Virtuosos Patrons
Mr. and Mrs. James Dalton
Mrs. Phinizy Spalding
Mr. Tom B. Wight

Maestros Patrons
Mr. and Mrs. Paul J. Blackney
Dr. and Mrs. James W. Bland
Mr. and Mrs. Mark C. McDonald
Mr. G. Kimbrough Taylor and Ms. Triska Drake
Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Wilson

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Update on Crum and Forster from Save Crum and Forster

The Georgia Tech Foundation will appeal the City of Atlanta’s denial of the demolition permit for 771 Spring Street on March 12, 2009. Currently the building is “mothballed” but is still endangered.

The survival of the building is being defined by two separate issues: Appealing the denial of the demolition permit by the City of Atlanta. Whether the building will be granted Landmark Status.

Status of the Appeal: Last October the City of Atlanta denied a demolition permit for 771 Spring Street (Crum Forster Building). Following the denial of the demolition permit the Urban Design Commission proposed Landmark Status for the classically designed Italianate building which passed the UDC unanimously. However, Landmark Status is not finalized until passed by the City Council, therefore to date the building remains in peril. Legal Counsel for the Georgia Tech Foundation (Carl Westmoreland) is appealing the denial of the demolition permit. If this decision is reversed the building could potentially be demolished almost immediately. In the meantime Interim Landmark Controls are in effect requiring GTF to “mothball” the building.

Your support is INVALUABLE. It is because of your presence at these ongoing meetings, your petition responses, your letters and phone calls, that Atlanta has shown that this building is treasured. Because of this commitment and concern the building still stands today. Thank you!

It is more important than ever - please plan to attend:
Board of Zoning Adjustment Meeting

March 12th, 12 noon
City Hall
55 Trinity Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia 30303

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