What does Clay Center know that Manhattan doesn’t?
Posted: 18 November 2012 08:05 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I drove to Clay Center this morning, and for the first time in a year or so, did not have to detour because of the bridge replacement.  As I drove across the new bridge, it occurred to me that Clay Center seems to get it right.  The bridge is new but is adorned with wrought iron just like the old one, and now has a pedestrian walkway.  This is the second bridge I have seen replaced in Clay Center.  Both have been tastefully restored, unlike the travesty that replaced the beautiful old bridge on 177 coming into Manhattan.  I wonder why this little town of 6,000 or so can maintain many of its historic homes (and, if you have never visited Clay Center, you should go down Fifth street and look at these mansions…much nicer than anything in Manhattan), restore its bridges the way they were meant to be, and Gotham just can’t…or won’t…hmmmm

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Posted: 19 November 2012 09:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Couple of things come to mind:  once nice, large older homes converted to rentals, and flooding around 1900 leading to older homes in the river area being damaged and demolished.

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Posted: 19 November 2012 10:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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That is part of it Kathy.  I think also that the fact there is no college in Clay Center has preserved these old mansions and saved them from the indignity of being converted to apartment houses.  It is truly a preservationist’s dream.  Most of those homes look exactly like they did 100 years ago.  The bridges are new, however and restored to look like they did 100 years ago.  Too bad manhattan can’t take a lesson from this.

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Posted: 19 November 2012 11:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Michael, we do have an extremely “purty”, $450,000 walk bridge… only to be used by the tenants of a favored developer.

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Posted: 19 November 2012 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Hadley, yes, that’s what I was getting at.  Clay Center doesn’t have the demand to turn large homes into student rentals.  Would-be restorers aren’t as interested in converting rentals back to single family residences.  It seems to me that 100 years ago people were more interested in constructing public structures (buildings, bridges, etc.) to last for decades, and therefore, they could be fancy, i.e. marble, intricate ironwork, fireplaces with elaborate mantels, and so forth.  Structures today seemed to be intended to last 20-30 years and potentially viewed as not worth investing in the details.  Why build a nice bridge when a plain one will do the job and when you’ll knock it down and put in a 6-lane bridge in 20 years?  Clay Center may not be anticipating needing to replace its bridges in 20 years.

Have you seen photos of some of the fine homes Manhattan has lost?  A few that come to mind are E. B. Purcell’s house (the pioneer who set up the deal with the city to provide free water to schools and churches) on south Juliette that had a central tower similar to the Liebold Mansion, and also Major Adams’ house on south Juliette, which was a large two-story stone house, and both of which are where the Catholic school is today.  Another is the Stingley mansion, which was a grand Victorian in the 500 block of Houston Street, and is now a parking lot.

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Posted: 19 November 2012 02:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I remember the Stingley mansion…a beautiful house.  Another one that I like is at the corner of Laramie and 11th.  It was a doctors home originally.  Now, it is three gazillion apartments, but the outside is fairly intact.  It probably won’t be there much longer.  The land is far too valuable for a high rise.  The banker’s house on Leavenworth has been painted brown.  Doesn’t look too bad actually.  In the next ten years, however, all these old houses will be gone, replaced with 12 plexes.  The city of Manhattan has never cared much for its history.  Even the library people destroyed a beautiful old house to expand their parking lot.  Being a preservationist in Manhattan is a lonely job.  The city has no respect for historic structures.  Never has.

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Posted: 19 November 2012 05:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Ain’t that the truth.  Even Bluemont College is gone.  Those first pioneers apparently saw no need in saving the building once campus relocated.  Although, Washington Marlatt purchased the stone and roof timbers from the Bluemont College building and built a barn with it, and the barn still exists.  But, I wonder for how long, given that Marlatt’s house was partially covered with corrugated metal siding.

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Posted: 20 November 2012 07:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Kathy,
I think the reason restorers don’t want to mess with a converted apartment house, is largely because of the price.  You are trying to buy a home, the seller is selling seven apartments.  I tried, in the seventies to buy several large old dumps to restore as a home.  In each case, regardless of condition or location, the landlords wanted a hefty price to give up the cash cow.  I looked at one near the university The front door was missing.  The banister for the staircase was lying in the foyer In fact the place was a hazard, especially for the upstairs dwellers.  It had, however been a lovely house and there was enough detail left to catch my interest.Luckily I was on the main floor when the ghetto lord gave me the price….$100, 000.  This was in 1977, mind you.
So, the problem is that even if you could buy one, there would have been no money left to restore it.  Now there is a slight shift.  The dumps go for even more since the city has “shifted its paradigm” and allowed will-nilly building of large apartment complexes where they don’t belong, and now, it is the land that is being sold.

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Posted: 20 November 2012 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Now, come on, the megaplexes just seem to be willy-nilly.  They’re almost always “planned unit developments,” with the important word being “planned,” apparently.  But, we all know “planned unit development” is code for “spot zoning.”  It will be interesting to see what becomes of the “planned unit development” proposed for west of Ahearn Fieldhouse that will be 4-5 stories, which includes 2 levels of structured parking.

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Posted: 20 November 2012 08:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I was not aware of this one.  Usually, the mayor calls me and asks my opinion on these developments.  Well, he has probably been busy, and just forgot.
So, the apartments are going to go, in lieu of a small shopping area, which I am certain will have at least one bar?  I can’t say that this concerns me too much.  We don’t lose much in those two apartment buildings.
They were always a bit tacky, but a great location.  I was in one of the apartments in the smaller unit to the south.  It was actually pretty nice in the seventies.
I suspect a fru-fru coffee shop would do well in that location.  The university kids play army there several mornings a week, and there is a large contingent of morning swimmers just across the street as well.
This might be a good idea.  There is really no neighborhood there to ruin.  I am surprised those little cracker boxes on Hunting have survived this long.  That is prime land, and we would lose nothing historic if we leveled that entire block.  This would make more sense to me than planting a high-rise and a hotel in a more historic district.  I am surprised that, over the years, the U has not snatched up those houses on Hunting.

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Posted: 20 November 2012 10:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Sorry, I didn’t describe the intended location very well.  The proposed 4-5 story complex will be between Hunting and College Heights, with Sunset as its western boundary.  It does not go all the way to Denison on the east and would cover about 1.5 acres with no setbacks.

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Posted: 20 November 2012 12:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Kathy,
Still not a problem with me.  That entire area is a dump.  Maybe the city of Manhattan will finally get something right.

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Posted: 20 November 2012 03:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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The Manhattan Urban Area Planning Board voted 5-0 against the project -1845 College Heights Residential Planned Unit Development.  It is on the Commission Agenda for December.

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