2. Jim Harmon did write me back about my Friday e-mail about which "historical preservation principles" made saving the freestanding Brew House wall undesirable.
It's the piece of wall sticking out here in this photo I took in January:
From his Friday e-mail to the neighborhood:
Regarding where we are, the demolition of the Stock House will be
completed in the next few weeks. We have not reached a conclusion as to what to do about the remaining façade wall attached to the Brew House. While that wall does not pose an impending danger like the Stock House did, it does pose the matter of design and cost, as it looked to be several million dollars to retain it. In our discussions with the Landmarks Preservation Board, certain members expressed their desire to keep this façade. Additionally, certain neighborhood members expressed their concern and very much wanted to keep it. However, landmarks regulations recognize that the preservation of certain landmarked elements may be uneconomical and can grant an exception to the preservation rule. Our assertion is that it is not only uneconomic, but that it is undesirable from a design and historic standpoint (and there are certain historic preservation principles that this is based upon).
And from his response to me:
In response to your questions, the principle in question is termed façadism. Below are excerpts from submittals we previously made to the Landmarks Board and posted on our website:
* “We do not believe that retaining this wall is true to historic preservation and constitutes façadism since there is no structure behind it, historic or otherwise. We understand there to be divergent opinions, but façadism is not supported by many and is contrary to federal and local tax incentives, further indication of its standing.”
* “...we do not believe that retaining the North Wall is within the spirit of historic preservation as it constitutes façadism, and we see the removal of that wall as an opportunity to open the remaining historic structures to sight from Airport Way as well as reasonable vehicular access into the historic areas.”
* " This point is emphasized by the fact that significant tax incentives are provided to retain historic structures by both federal income tax and local real estate tax credits; however, no such economic incentives are provided for retaining a building façade."
It’s also referred to as facadomy. See Wikipedia reference and citings here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facadism.
Hmm. I'm no expert, but that Wikipedia link about facadism seems to suggest that preservationists believe that maintaining an entire building is preferable to maintaining just a facade. However, it does NOT seem to suggest that preservationists believe that destroying an existing freestanding facade is preferable to maintaining it. Maybe someone more knowledgeable about historical preservation would like to weigh in?
[Update/sidenote: Here's a 3/25/08 Crosscut article about Seattle's historical landmark designation process.]