18 June 2011

The Shape of Things to Come.

I'm not sure how many of you in my readership have children that are school aged, or if that even matters in what I am about to discuss ... because I have school-aged children and this specific topic never crossed my mind until recently, when our township felt they had no other option except to demolish the 2nd of 4 local elementary schools that were built between 1950-1958/ish.

opened in 1953

Elementary school #2 slated for demolition happens to be the school that my son just graduated from this week. It is also right up the street and something that we drive past daily. My son's graduating class is officially the last one in the original building. The building will stand vacant for about one year (presumably with gutting going on inside) and the students will be moved to those pods / temporary modules on the secondary schools' property a mile away. (My son will be moving on to the jr. high thankfully) The demolition and re-build is scheduled to run for the next 2 years (after the one year of vacancy).

You can probably guess my heartbreak. When the proposal to demolish this school was first brought up, a large percentage of  the township were very against it. Not only are our taxes being raised to fund this project, it seemed that the foundation and shell of this school are in very good condition and that maybe just a gutting and remodel was in order. The schoolboard, of course, had inspectors reports with a list of what was in dire need of repair / replacement / upgrades x cost of said repairs etc and found that this sum was somehow less cost effective than a complete razing of the building. The list of issues are as follows:

  • asbestos tile, and ceiling tiles coming loose and falling
  • original heating system can't keep up with demands
  • original electrical system can't keep up with demands or handle computers and internet
  • bathrooms aren't handicapped accessible
  • roof issues
  • window issues (they're not energy efficient)
  • everything else that a mid-century building would not have to be considered 'eco-friendly' or 'green'.
(photos and township minutes can be seen in a pdf file here.)

This is all understandable, but it breaks my heart.  I have a weird affinity for those 1950's schools and the different styles and my township had 4 really amazing ones. They are already starting the first stages of demolition for the next "out of date" elementary school and I'm sure the 4th and last one will be on the chopping block soonafter. I can't imagine daily life without glimpses of these gorgeous low, long buildings with their straight roofs.

Not to mention that for the next 3 years we will be forced to witness the whole project - there is just no way to avoid it, given our proximity.

In true form, Partner In Crime and myself cornered the poor principal during the post-graduation reception to ask if any of the interior or fixtures that are in fine shape were being salvaged. She informed us that indeed, everything that is salvagable will be put up for auction. She was unsure on the specific auction company or when/where it would be but if she got this information before we did, she would surely let us know. She was surprised to learn that anyone would want such things, and went on to say that the kitchen in the faculty room was the original 50's metal kitchen in very good shape and that she rather loved it. Other little things that we have noticed from just being in that school for events are some bullet shaped light fixtures (9 in the gym alone).

The more impressive light fixtures belong to elementary school #3, in the library:

hard to see. let me find a generic pic...

They are the hanging bubble style lights, but on a grander scale, as they are suspended from a high ceiling. There are also at least 4 of them, the photo above shows only 2.

like these, but HUGE.

For about a month now, I have been literally stressing over this whole deal. If the future is shaped by what is energy-efficient, eco-friendly and state of the art, where does that leave these buildings? I would surmise that say, office buildings built in the same era have the proper upgrades with the exteriors remaining the same. The schools, libraries, etc who are at the mercy of budgets and taxpayers will remain the victims I should think. Do you think it's possible that they will soon become extinct like Drive-Ins?

I would be interested to know if this is becoming common in other areas. Maybe if anyone reading this has a moment for some research you could look up your local school board or township's website and see if there is anything about past or future renovations? It may be something that hasn't crossed your mind, and I would be interested to know anyone's thoughts or experiences with something like this.

In other everyday news, we still do not have a space for our store. We found what we thought was perfect but the lease agreement was worded very specific and strangely that we don't feel comfortable signing it unless it's amended. If the landlord cannot or will not do it, we will have to start the process of looking for another space. Again.

My thrift store scores have been amazing and  I wish I could remember to post them each Monday.

08 June 2011

Alive, I am.

"Busy" doesn't adequately describe my days lately. "Exhausted" is a word that falls short to describe how I fall face first into bed and just crash until the alarm goes off. I am hoping that things calm down a bit in about 2 weeks but we'll see. In the meantime here are some scans of vintage cards etc that I've been collecting: