The losses mounted in 2013

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

Jonathon Denson’s thoughtful year-end list of preservation losses is a worthy read on this last day of the year. It's sobering to see the folly of so many of these decisions. Makes me want to rethink my assertion that 2013 was a great year for Pittsburgh.
We lose opportunities we can never get back when 100-plus year old buildings are knocked down. We lose part of what makes Pittsburgh unique because historic resources are becoming less common across the national landscape. A great range of architecture, both of type and of age, makes a city interesting and tells its residents and visitors that it has strength, wisdom, character and staying power.
But unless people rescue these old buildings before building inspectors can make a case for condemnation -- public safety, usually, which is such a subjective call -- we will continue to lose them. The above photo shows the Lamar Building in Oakland, which was demolished this year. The one at right is an old worker house in East Deutschtown on the North Side. As a frame house, it likely predates larger brick Victorians.EastDeutschtown 056
Surely some of these large corporations who have the deep pockets to be able to build multiple enormous Downtown buildings — I’m thinking about one of the large banks in the region — could renovate some notable and fine old buildings to LEED standards and make them offices. (I’m thinking the ARC House on East Ohio and Madison on the North Side, for starters.)
That building’s for sale. It has city historic “protection.” Will we lose it too before someone steps up?
Let’s hope that 2014 proves to be a good year for preservation. Thanks to Jon’s heads-up post, we now know that its advocates and the gems they champion have had better years than 2013.
Photos by Jonathon Denson

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