Closed for more than 30 years, the Settles Hotel in Big Spring has emerged from a 5 year restoration effort. Last weekend saw the re-illumination of the iconic rooftop sign and provided an opportunity for past and current Big Spring residents to get a glimpse of the hotel, including carefully restored public areas and the Lobby.
Before and after photos can be viewed at the Hotel Settles Opening Weekend photo album, shown at the left.
Last Friday, the jury for Preservation Dallas' 2012 Preservation Achievement Awards selected the restoration of the historic US Post Office and Courthouse Building as an award winner. The presentation of the award will be made at the Majestic Theater, around the corner in Downtown Dallas, on Wednesday, May 16, 2012.You can see additional information about this project from my post last December as well as last September .
Congratulations to developer Shawn Todd and the rest of the project team!
I am very sad to note the passing Sunday of Blake Alexander. He pretty much was the face of the School of Architecture to me while I was at the University of Texas and he taught my very first class, Architecture and Society. Dignified and distinguished in his bow tie, he was the living image of what a college professor should be. On the last day of our Architecture and Society Class, everyone stood and applauded when he finished, a new custom adopted from the movie "Paper Chase". He was our KIngsfield. Every semester his classes waited for him to show up for class just one time wearing his Viturvian "Firmness, Commodity and Delight" t-shirt beneath his blazer. Even today his book Texas Homes of the 19th Century is the seminal work on early Texas architecture and is referred to by my colleauges and myself regularly.
A more complete and more fitting biography can be found here. First Hal Box and now Blake Alexander in 2011. Tough year.
Not that I didn't get a really good education at UT in my day, but the school has certainly come a very long way since that time. Congratulations to Dean Steiner, the faculty and the staff. The announcement can be seen here.
I am excited to announce that beginning January 1, 2012, Norman Alston Architects will be officing in the former US Post Office and Courthouse Building in Downtown Dallas, now known as 400 North Ervay. We have been working with building owner Shawn Todd on the restoration and adaptive reuse of this beautiful historic structure for more than 4 years. I have previously reported the completion of the project, a step that will make some of Dallas' most beautiful and historic interior spaces accessible to the public after being shuttered for more than a decade. Now I can imagine no more fitting way to begin the year than showing up to work in one of Dallas' most historic structures. More information and a date for an open house will follow.
A few folks are probably aware that our annual holiday open house was tentatively scheduled for Wednesday night, December 7, 2011, although an official announcement has not been issued. For a lot of really good reasons it has been decided that this most popular event will be postponed until soon after the first of the year. While the likely assumption would be that the party is a casualty of the economy, or that we had become uneasy with parallels between our open house and the observance of Pearl Harbor, not so. In fact, this postponement is primarily to allow some other exciting developments to more fully run their course. Details on that and the new date will be forthcoming soon.
It was made painfully clear to me last year that two long-standing and particularly popular features were missing, and that future events should take pains to avoid these oversights. So rest assured that whatever the date for the open house, that 1) the aluminum Christmas Tree will be present and in grand form throughout the holidays and on through the event itself, and 2) sushi will be served. (Come to think of it, perhaps sushi on December 7 could have been misinterpreted).
It's always gratifying when a major restoration project nears completion and the previously dreamed-of building becomes a reality. It has been announced that the historic Downtown Dallas Post Office and Federal Courthouse Building, now known as 400 North Ervay, will finally open to the public on October 7, a project where we began guiding the restoration and infrastructure work way back in 2007. Transfering the building from Federal ownership to private ownership entailed a Section 106 review process that was amazingly long and challenging, to say the very least. However, we were also blessed to be able to design and direct the restoration of the Federal Courtrooms and associated public areas, with their wood paneling, marble wainscoting and spectacular coffered and stenciled ceilings. Besides being steeped in history (this was Sarah T. Hughes Courtroom), it is one of the most beautiful interior spaces in Dallas. A glimpse of the project can be seen at the new 400 North Ervay website.
Our congratulations to Shawn Todd for his vision and his ceaseless energy in bringing this building back to the citizens of Dallas. As with any successful project it takes a team to pull it off. Other team members include:
Architecture Demerast of Dallas who are responsible for the design of the apartments themselves
Cindy Zelazny who provided interior design
James R. Thompson Construction who perfomed much of the restoration and infrastructure work
The construction arm of The Gables, who have constructed the apartments
BRW Architects who, under contract with the US Postal Service, updated the post office facility, guided restoration of the historic windows and restored the first floor public areas prior to the Federal Government's sale of the building.
I often find that folks can be confused by common historic preservation terminology as we tend to use the same 6 words over and over again, only arranged differently to mean different things. I have seen for instance, National Historic Landmarks and National Register of Historic Places used interchangably, but there is a very big difference. Whereas the National Register of Historic Places recognizes local significance and there are literally hundreds of thousands of buldings so listed, a National Historic Landmark denotes a building/site/structure of truly national significance and is reserved for the most important buildings. LIke the Capital Building in Washington, DC, or the Alamo. That's why the announcement of 14 new National Landmarks is a big deal and has roused me from blog lethargy.
I was particularly taken by the designation of the Olson Farmhouse, depicted here in this 1948 Andrew Wyeth painting entitled "Christina's World". A major American work by a major American artist, the house in the painting exists in Cushing, Maine and is depicted in other Wyeth works. Andrew Wyeth is even buried on the grounds. A fitting tribute.