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Mapping the Biggest Preservation Wins and Losses of 2012

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This year has been one of dramatic ups and downs for American preservationists. With the controversy over Frank Lloyd Wright's David and Gladys Wright House (above) then still raging, Curbed reached out to the National Trust for Historic Preservation to ask what the advocacy group considered their biggest wins and, conversely, biggest losses for 2012. The Wright House was finally saved just last Friday—and thus didn't make the list—but there are a dozen more victories and a handful of dramatic losses, all mapped below.


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1. WIN - Michigan Bell Building

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882 Oakman Boulevard
Detroit, MI 48238

Built in 1929 as the headquarters of Western Electric, a major division of AT&T, the Michigan Bell Building sat vacant for years before a Detroit nonprofit, Neighborhood Service Organization, stepped in. The group organized a $50M renovation that converted the warehouse into permanent housing for 155 homeless men and women.

2. WIN - La Concha Motel Lobby

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770 Las Vegas Boulevard North
Las Vegas, NV 89101

In 2003, the owner of Las Vegas' iconic midcentury La Concha Motel—Lorenzo Doumani, a descendant of the original commissioner—decided to replace the motel with a more spacious and modern structure. Sensitive to the historic significance of the lobby, he sought to move the swooping building to a different site. This year, the restored lobby finally opened on the grounds of the Neon Museum.

3. WIN - Wake Forest Biotech Place

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541 North Patterson Avenue
Winston-Salem, NC 27101

Wake Forest University revamped a disused tobacco factory building into a state-of-the-art life sciences research center that will employ 450 workers. The development created more than 600 construction jobs and was completed in March.

4. WIN - The Howard Theatre

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620 T Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 803-2899
Visit Website

One of D.C.'s most legendary concert venues, the Howard Theatre launched the careers of greats like Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington before falling into a severe state of disrepair. As of April, the Howard is back in business, after a thorough $29M restoration that repaired the original facade and refitted the interiors.

5. WIN - The Emerson School

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1420 Ogden Street
Denver, CO 80218

Denver's historic Emerson School building was donated to the National Trust in 2010. The Trust spent $3.2M to rehab the 1885 schoolhouse and it now houses the Denver field office, along with the offices of seven other non-profits, in environmentally friendly office space.

6. WIN - Ames Shovel Shop

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28 Main Street
North Easton, MA 02356

A groundbreaking ceremony in June marked the beginning of a massive restoration project that will convert the historic, 117,000-square-foot Ames Shovel Shop into 113 residential units. After a long battle with a would-be developer who sought to drastically alter the existing structures, the land was sold to Beacon Communities, who plan to preserve as much of the eight-acre complex as possible.

7. WIN - Chimney Rock

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Pinon Causeway
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147

In September, President Obama named Chimney Rock a National Monument. The ancestral home of the Chacoan Indians, the site is, according to the National Trust, "the single most important cultural site managed by the U.S. Forest Service."

8. WIN - AAA Building

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3917 Lindell Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63108

The Auto Club of Missouri negotiated with drugstore chain CVS to save the saucer-shaped AAA building and instead construct a new store on a lot next door. The unique structure was completed in 1976, making it ineligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, but, thankfully, that was not a hinderance to the agreement.

9. WIN - Phillips 66 "Saucer"

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212 South Grand Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63103

International coffee shop behemoth Starbucks may seem like an odd partner for midcentury preservation, but the company helped save this iconic former gas station when they signed a lease to occupy the "flying saucer" building. "Exceptional" public outcry convinced the demolition-mined landlord to change his plans.

10. WIN - César E. Chávez National Monument

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29700 Woodford-Tehachapi Road
Keene, CA 93531

The home of legendary labor organizer and civil rights César Chávez was named a National Monument in October. The former headquarters of the United Farm Workers and Chávez's grave are included in the La Paz monument.

11. WIN - McDougal Tract at Gaines’ Mill

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6199 State Highway 156
Mechanicsville, VA 23111

The site of an 1862 battle during the Civil War, this historic farmland became part of the battlefield park, increasing the size of said park from 65 to a total of 285 acres. A year-long funding campaign and partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia generated the $3.2M necessary to secure the historic site for future generations.

12. WIN - Boyle Hotel

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East 1st Street & North Boyle Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90033

By December 2010, the former Boyle Hotel, built in 1889 and once a grand brick hotel, had lost much of its architectural character to years of neglect. The turret's roof was long gone, windows were broken, and the ground floor was occupied by frequently gated businesses. Now the hotel has returned as affordable housing, after a $24.6M renovation.

13. LOSS - Failure to Pass Cultural Lands Bill

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Capitol Circle
Washington, DC 20515

The National Trust believes one of the largest preservation failures this year had nothing to do with brick and mortar. Since 2000, funding for natural resource preservation has soared, while historic and cultural funding lags more than $100M behind.

14. LOSS - Vandalism of Petroglyphs

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798 North Main Street
Bishop, CA 93514

In what Federal archaeologists described as the "worst act of vandalism ever," four petroglyphs were stolen and another defaced in the Volcanic Tablelands near Bishop, Calif. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the petroglyphs are roughly 3,500 years old and still hold ceremonial and religious significance. No one has yet been apprehended in connection to the theft.

15. LOSS - Seneca County Courthouse

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106 State Highway 101
Tiffin, OH 44883

When the Seneca County Courthouse was torn down in January, it became the first National Register-listed Ohio courthouse to fall victim to the wrecking ball.

16. LOSS - The Moore House

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504 Paseo Del Mar
Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274

Bulldozed in April, the Moore House was one of the finest works by Frank Lloyd Wright's son, the lauded SoCal architect Lloyd Wright. The house will be replaced with a 6,000-square-foot mansion with attached garage, the antithesis of what Dr. Louis Moore asked for back in 1959 when he "pointed to another house in the neighborhood and told the architect 'I don't want a big square house like that one.'"

17. LOSS - Pittsburgh Civic Arena

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1001 5th Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

The supposedly innovative retractable roof barely ever worked, but Pittsburghers bemoaned the demolition of the landmark Civic Area, the longtime home to the beloved Pittsburgh Penguins, which was reduced to rubble in September.

18. LOSS - Hojack Swing Bridge

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566 River Street
Rochester, NY 14612

In November, the Hojack Swing Bridge, a Rochester icon, was removed at the behest of the Coast Guard, which claimed it had become a hazard to navigation. The bridge was designed to carry trains across the river and then rotate to allow ship traffic to pass. No trains had passed over the bridge since the mid-1990s, and the control house has been set aside for preservation.

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1. WIN - Michigan Bell Building

882 Oakman Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48238

Built in 1929 as the headquarters of Western Electric, a major division of AT&T, the Michigan Bell Building sat vacant for years before a Detroit nonprofit, Neighborhood Service Organization, stepped in. The group organized a $50M renovation that converted the warehouse into permanent housing for 155 homeless men and women.

882 Oakman Boulevard
Detroit, MI 48238

2. WIN - La Concha Motel Lobby

770 Las Vegas Boulevard North, Las Vegas, NV 89101

In 2003, the owner of Las Vegas' iconic midcentury La Concha Motel—Lorenzo Doumani, a descendant of the original commissioner—decided to replace the motel with a more spacious and modern structure. Sensitive to the historic significance of the lobby, he sought to move the swooping building to a different site. This year, the restored lobby finally opened on the grounds of the Neon Museum.

770 Las Vegas Boulevard North
Las Vegas, NV 89101

3. WIN - Wake Forest Biotech Place

541 North Patterson Avenue, Winston-Salem, NC 27101

Wake Forest University revamped a disused tobacco factory building into a state-of-the-art life sciences research center that will employ 450 workers. The development created more than 600 construction jobs and was completed in March.

541 North Patterson Avenue
Winston-Salem, NC 27101

4. WIN - The Howard Theatre

620 T Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

One of D.C.'s most legendary concert venues, the Howard Theatre launched the careers of greats like Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington before falling into a severe state of disrepair. As of April, the Howard is back in business, after a thorough $29M restoration that repaired the original facade and refitted the interiors.

620 T Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

5. WIN - The Emerson School

1420 Ogden Street, Denver, CO 80218

Denver's historic Emerson School building was donated to the National Trust in 2010. The Trust spent $3.2M to rehab the 1885 schoolhouse and it now houses the Denver field office, along with the offices of seven other non-profits, in environmentally friendly office space.

1420 Ogden Street
Denver, CO 80218

6. WIN - Ames Shovel Shop

28 Main Street, North Easton, MA 02356

A groundbreaking ceremony in June marked the beginning of a massive restoration project that will convert the historic, 117,000-square-foot Ames Shovel Shop into 113 residential units. After a long battle with a would-be developer who sought to drastically alter the existing structures, the land was sold to Beacon Communities, who plan to preserve as much of the eight-acre complex as possible.

28 Main Street
North Easton, MA 02356

7. WIN - Chimney Rock

Pinon Causeway, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147

In September, President Obama named Chimney Rock a National Monument. The ancestral home of the Chacoan Indians, the site is, according to the National Trust, "the single most important cultural site managed by the U.S. Forest Service."

Pinon Causeway
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147

8. WIN - AAA Building

3917 Lindell Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108

The Auto Club of Missouri negotiated with drugstore chain CVS to save the saucer-shaped AAA building and instead construct a new store on a lot next door. The unique structure was completed in 1976, making it ineligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, but, thankfully, that was not a hinderance to the agreement.

3917 Lindell Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63108

9. WIN - Phillips 66 "Saucer"

212 South Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63103

International coffee shop behemoth Starbucks may seem like an odd partner for midcentury preservation, but the company helped save this iconic former gas station when they signed a lease to occupy the "flying saucer" building. "Exceptional" public outcry convinced the demolition-mined landlord to change his plans.

212 South Grand Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63103

10. WIN - César E. Chávez National Monument

29700 Woodford-Tehachapi Road, Keene, CA 93531

The home of legendary labor organizer and civil rights César Chávez was named a National Monument in October. The former headquarters of the United Farm Workers and Chávez's grave are included in the La Paz monument.

29700 Woodford-Tehachapi Road
Keene, CA 93531

11. WIN - McDougal Tract at Gaines’ Mill

6199 State Highway 156, Mechanicsville, VA 23111

The site of an 1862 battle during the Civil War, this historic farmland became part of the battlefield park, increasing the size of said park from 65 to a total of 285 acres. A year-long funding campaign and partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia generated the $3.2M necessary to secure the historic site for future generations.

6199 State Highway 156
Mechanicsville, VA 23111

12. WIN - Boyle Hotel

East 1st Street & North Boyle Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033

By December 2010, the former Boyle Hotel, built in 1889 and once a grand brick hotel, had lost much of its architectural character to years of neglect. The turret's roof was long gone, windows were broken, and the ground floor was occupied by frequently gated businesses. Now the hotel has returned as affordable housing, after a $24.6M renovation.

East 1st Street & North Boyle Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90033

13. LOSS - Failure to Pass Cultural Lands Bill

Capitol Circle, Washington, DC 20515

The National Trust believes one of the largest preservation failures this year had nothing to do with brick and mortar. Since 2000, funding for natural resource preservation has soared, while historic and cultural funding lags more than $100M behind.

Capitol Circle
Washington, DC 20515

14. LOSS - Vandalism of Petroglyphs

798 North Main Street, Bishop, CA 93514

In what Federal archaeologists described as the "worst act of vandalism ever," four petroglyphs were stolen and another defaced in the Volcanic Tablelands near Bishop, Calif. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the petroglyphs are roughly 3,500 years old and still hold ceremonial and religious significance. No one has yet been apprehended in connection to the theft.

798 North Main Street
Bishop, CA 93514

15. LOSS - Seneca County Courthouse

106 State Highway 101, Tiffin, OH 44883

When the Seneca County Courthouse was torn down in January, it became the first National Register-listed Ohio courthouse to fall victim to the wrecking ball.

106 State Highway 101
Tiffin, OH 44883

16. LOSS - The Moore House

504 Paseo Del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274

Bulldozed in April, the Moore House was one of the finest works by Frank Lloyd Wright's son, the lauded SoCal architect Lloyd Wright. The house will be replaced with a 6,000-square-foot mansion with attached garage, the antithesis of what Dr. Louis Moore asked for back in 1959 when he "pointed to another house in the neighborhood and told the architect 'I don't want a big square house like that one.'"

504 Paseo Del Mar
Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274

17. LOSS - Pittsburgh Civic Arena

1001 5th Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

The supposedly innovative retractable roof barely ever worked, but Pittsburghers bemoaned the demolition of the landmark Civic Area, the longtime home to the beloved Pittsburgh Penguins, which was reduced to rubble in September.

1001 5th Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

18. LOSS - Hojack Swing Bridge

566 River Street, Rochester, NY 14612

In November, the Hojack Swing Bridge, a Rochester icon, was removed at the behest of the Coast Guard, which claimed it had become a hazard to navigation. The bridge was designed to carry trains across the river and then rotate to allow ship traffic to pass. No trains had passed over the bridge since the mid-1990s, and the control house has been set aside for preservation.

566 River Street
Rochester, NY 14612