Feb 6, 2012

Barbarians Sack Allentown


As Mayor Pawlowski stood last week across Hamilton Street from the former buildings, now reduced to rubble, I thought of the barbarians sacking Rome. The Knerr Building, constructed in 1892 at 707 Hamilton Street, had withstood many changes in the last 120 years. Built for John Knerr to sell groceries and confections, it's four floors served various businesses over the century. Although this past New Year's eve, the Mayor spoke of Allentown's 250th anniversary, it's a history for which he has limited knowledge and less appreciation. As a student of Allentown's architecture and past, I was offended to hear him and the other mayors boast about the 40 temporary demolition jobs. The wrecking contractor was astute enough to remove the monumental and historic Knerr facade ornamentation, before knocking the building down. He will sell it in some other city, where history is respected and valued.
For those of you who also appreciate our history, please consider joining me this Tuesday evening, February 7th, at 7:00pm in the Library's lower level. We are attempting to preserve the irreplaceable, WPA iconic stone structures throughout the park system.

photo of mayors/The Morning Call/Donna Fisher
photo of facade from former Knerr Building: molovinsky

13 comments:

John.Jay said...

I have heard through the grapevine that these facades are going to be displayed in the new arena . I have no official word on this , but , i have heard it from more than one person active in the downtown .

michael molovinsky said...

john, that's rich, perhaps we can buy korean mannequins to represent the displaced merchants.

John.Jay said...

I'm not trying to be a heel here, what do you mean by "rich."

michael molovinsky said...

i meant that's amusing. it would have had some architectural and historic relevance to keep and incorporate the original facades into the arena, especially since that frontage is to be stores, but keeping the top metal ornament, while tearing down the building, is amusing. pawlowski's not much for historic; one only need look at the alliance for building communities building or allowing CityLine to dryvit it's building.

John.Jay said...

I mean, they also are incorporating the two nicest buildings into the arena (the Dime Building and the Farr Building) and if my contacts are right saving the facades of the other buildings. I am very much into historical preservation too, but, I understand it needs to be balanced against other objectives too. And its seems like they did try to strike a reasonable balance here.

ironpigpen said...

I heard Chairman Pawlowski has begun collecting works for a spectacular gallery to grace the magnificent $ 160.0 million dollar Palace of Sport ...

http://www.goironpigs.com

michael molovinsky said...

john, there is no historical preservation motive. pawlowski gave the farr building a half $million grant years ago, and it contains upscale loft apartments, his demographic of choice. the dime building supposedly was sought by the management as offices. are you saying that they will keep the fronts of the prior family dollar and rite-aid buildings (both historic and charming) or are you referring to some trim pieces to display in a museum like fashion?

John.Jay said...

Whatever the motive, those buildings will be saved which is a good thing. Unfortunately, there isn't enough money to allow altruism in even the smallest fraction of cases. Historic buildings typically have to prove their use like any other structure except in the most extraordinary of cases.

Speaking of which, there are extraordinarily well-built and beautiful towns-homes all throughout Allentown. They just need middle class money to renovate them back to livable space. I would invite you to join me in renovating one and then living there to show your solidarity with historical preservation!

michael molovinsky said...

john, after you're here for another 30 more years, you may suggest what i should do. but fyi, i'm pro preservation, but against the historic districts. (because the HARB Board is often too dictatorial). when the city sought to create the west park historical district, they used oversized photographs of one house on an easel in front of council chambers to represent the potential of the area. Although i was an opponent of the district, the house they used was my former residence, which I had deconverted and restored. in other words john, been there, done that. Have you?

Anonymous said...

February 6, 2012 11:11 AM
big dream. B.S.
Like naming your development after what you destroyed.
Save the facades? more B.S.
The liars have uttered that "fix it up" line
many time in the recent past.
They have gone as far as pretending to rehab some lovely old homes but their actual performance was sub-standard using cheap labor and materials.
Just try to get anything done here in the city.
I KNOW that you have not.
Many skilled contractors refuse to set foot into the mess of red tape that is Allentown.
There has been no reasonable anything here in Allentown.

Anonymous said...

More of the same.
What? Where? Why? When?
we already know how.
(exerpt from Mr. Hanlons mailing.)
>
R3 Delta Thermo Energy Agreement
Authorizes the Administration to enter into an Agreement with Delta Thermo Energy A, LLC for Waste to Energy Services to be provided at a Waste to Energy Facility to be constructed by Delta Thermo Energy A, LLC on Certain City Property.

Anonymous said...

michael molovinsky said...
"john, that's rich, perhaps we can buy korean mannequins to represent the displaced merchants."

Love it!

I also love it when pols talk about temporary demolition or even construction jobs as though they were curative of all ills. They're TEMPORARY! The main thrust of this project is that the proponents believe (or want you to believe) that Allentown's biggest problems are now on the path to being cured. There will no longer be homeless men staggering along Hamilton Street; upper middle-class yuppies (professionals) will suddenly buy properties in Allentown transforming it into a hip, urban paradise. Upscale restaurants and shops will replace dollar stores, pawn shops and urban clothing stores. Most importantly, crime will disappear.

VOR

Anonymous said...

John.Jay said...
"I'm not trying to be a heel here, what do you mean by "rich."

"Rich" as in "ironic".

What we have here is a failure to communicate.


VOR