Downtown Eugene


Monday, September 17, 2007

Historicity

Here are some excellent comments from Jon PIncus, advocate for historic preservation, regarding downtown Eugene:

... in order to even begin a discussion of the appropriate treatment of the historic properties at hand, we have to have an independent comprehensive study. That will lead us to the appropriate sections of the Secretary of Interior's Standards which have been developed over many decades in a collaborative effort between the Keeper of the National Register, The Secretary of the Interior and the National Trust for Historic Preservation using the nation's top experts in preservation, planning, architecture and history combined with the collected experience of thousands of communities as they have tried to deal with their historic properties throughout the entire 20th and early 21st cemtuies. The cavalier approach to historic resources and materials seemingly advocated by Mr. Wylie [in an article about superficial post-modern approaches to "making reference" to the past] is part and parcel of the legacy of the first Urban Renewal push in Eugene. This approach is illustrated in Otto Poticha's Aster building which incorporates three historic commercial buildings of dating approximately 1867-1890. Prior to construction of that building, these buildings were mostly intact including a virtually complete historic interior on one. They had false fronts on the Willamette Street side but were relatively intact on the Park St. side. In their incorporation into the Aster building Otto had everything demolished except the brick party walls, the alley exterior wall, one brick structure of one Park street facade minus the windows, most decorative elements and a few small bits and pieces. He added a few fake elements to "reflect" the historic material that would have been so easily restored and still incorporated into the larger building had he chosen to take that approach. The approach illustrated in the Aster Building is appropriate only when just traces of a building remains. When a complete building or large sections remain in a visible or obscured state this approach is a tragedy. We can't begin to have this discussion at all without the study occuring first. Mr. Wylie (he is still calling the bank an 1898 building) is wrong in saying that the debate has devolved to hardened positions on treatment. We may never even get the chance to have any discussion. The question now, is whether we will even get to know what historic resources we have.

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