09 February 2009

Bad Deal


Today's Times has one of those stories documenting widespread idiocy that is both sad and infuriating. The story starts in Greenhills, Ohio. Here are some key paragraphs:
This 1938 village, along with Greenbelt, Md., and Greendale, Wis., was created to move struggling families out of nearby cities and into a healthier, more verdant environment, with shopping, recreation and nearly 200 small modernist apartment buildings and houses surrounded by a forest.

“The houses may be kind of plain looking, not spectacular, but to me at least, they are a treasure,” Mr. Strupe, 47, who repairs scales, said last week. “Like my old metal kitchen cabinets — the landlord asked, but I don’t ever want them changed.”

Yet, change has come. Over protests from residents, officials tore down 52 apartments on the National Register of Historic Places, saying they made the village look down at the heels. Signs saying, “Not for Sale” and “Keep Your Hands Off My House” are taped to frosty windows. Hundreds of buildings commissioned by the Works Progress Administration and Roosevelt’s other “alphabet” agencies are being demolished or threatened with destruction, mourned or fought over by small groups of citizens in a new national movement to save the architecture of the New Deal. In July, at the Santa Fe Indian School in New Mexico, a dozen buildings built in the Spanish Revival style in the 1930s, including murals with Native American themes, were bulldozed. In Chicago, architectural historians have joined with residents of Lathrop Homes — riverfront rows of historic brick public housing — to try to persuade the Chicago Housing Authority not to raze the complex. In Cotton County, Okla., a ruined gymnasium has only holes where windows used to be. Across the country, schools, auditoriums and community centers of the era are headed for the wrecking ball.

The buildings are designed in a variety of styles, including early modern. None of the examples shown in the Times are stunning, but the point is that at a time when we're all yapping about constructing and living in more energy-efficient buildings, governments all over the country are tearing down useful, energy-efficient and historic buildings. (The image above is of a New Deal-era mural, in Port Chester, New York; I found it here). - ta

1 comment:

becky said...

The timing is so ironic. Very sad.