RIP – 118 Main is demolished (Urban Facelift Project#2)
We began photographing buildings for the Urban Facelift Project in late April. All of the buildings that we chose for the first group of studies had obviously been allowed to be in a state of disrepair for a number of years. Some had been vacant and some inhabited by a business, but all were in need of some help.
If you would have told us that in less than 3 weeks one of the buildings we featured would have been demolished, we would have thought that was impossible. I remember seeing 118 Main Street when I first drove by it almost four years ago, looking almost the same way it does today did this past Friday, May 15th, thinking that there was so much potential for the building and the thin empty parcel next to it. It was that potential that made us choose 118 Main Street so early on in the Urban Facelift Project:
The original picture was taken on April 23rd and we posted the facelift on April 28th. Obviously as you can see in the picture there were no signs for demolition. However, Joey Marchy of urbanjacksonville tweeted the following two days later:
118 N. Main St. has been condemned by City’s Code Compliance Division. A sign says the building is “unsafe and unfit for human habitation.” 9:48 AM Apr 30th
We’ve seen these signs go up before, many times as a warning to the owners, often making them react quickly to get things under control. That’s why we were so surprised to see this come across, again from Joey, while we were in Atlanta for the Modern Atlanta event:
and then this:
Building 50% gone on main. Looks like a missing tooth. http://yfrog.com/16cqgj 6:24 PM May 16th
image via metrojacksonville
So, a historic contributing building that was left to decay for many years was demolished in less than 18 days after we featured the building as an Urban Facelift Project. Not quite the call for action we were hoping for when we started the series. Of course, its probably all just a coincidence that this all happened within 3 weeks of each other.
There has been alot of conversation about the demolition of 118 main, and some of it centers around whether or not the building could have been saved. You can find some of that discussion over at MetroJacksonville. Please take a look at thelakelander’s comment in regards to the ability of saving a building with the example of 2065 North Market.
118 Main could have absolutely been saved, but obviously it wasn’t the easiest thing to do. It would have taken engineering and money, along with a little “want to.”
The ironic thing about the situation is where we were when we heard the building was definitely coming down. We had just been to a Modern Architecture event at White Provision in Atlanta. The building is a combination of the preservation of a 4 story historic 1910 era brick building and new construction. Room and Board actually uses both old and new construction areas of the building.
image via roomandboard
The developers could have torn down the existing building, it could have been cheaper and easier, but they didn’t. The facade was detiriorating, but new steel structure now holds it in place, as seen in the picture we snapped while there:
118 Main wasn’t beyond the point of survival, it may have needed additional bracing and a new roof, but much of the historic fabric could have remained.
For a city that lost so many structures to an event that could not be controlled, the fire of 1901, why did we have to see one of our last remaining historic buildings of the post-fire boom be demolished just because it was the easy thing to do? It will be interesting to see what, if anything, gets built on now another empty lot in downtown Jacksonville. Hopefully not another faux historic building where once one stood.