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Lost American buildings brought to life

06 September 2018

America is dotted with breathtaking architecture. From the iconic Metro Centre in D.C. to the jaw-dropping Central Library in Seattle, these buildings help tell the story of the cities that surround them.

But what about the buildings that have been lost to history? Structures like the Singer Building & Penn Station, while still amazing, look nothing like they once did. Then there are buildings like the incredible Beach Hotel in Texas that only stood for 16 years before being lost to flames, now just a memory.

In celebration of some of America’s most remarkable lost buildings, Home Advisor has brought the past and present together by reconstructing seven of these buildings in their original location.

Penn Station

New York’s original Penn Station is the inspiration for the historic preservation movement. The Beaux-Arts building was realised in 1910 to a design from the prominent McKim, Mead & White architectural firm. To the dismay of many, the building met its end in 1963 when city authorities tired of its maintenance costs.

Then 


Now

Singer Building

Built in 1908, this Lower Manhattan building at Liberty Street and Broadway was, at one time, the tallest building in the world. It still holds one ‘world’s tallest’ record – it’s the tallest building to ever have been purposefully demolished. The Singer Building’s awkward office floor plan was its ultimate demise as it was unable to accommodate the growth of the companies within its walls.

Then

Now

 Midway Gardens

This entertainment complex by Frank Lloyd Wright, which opened in 1929 in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighbourhood, was as complex and interesting as the mind of its maker. Frank had never been commissioned for a project of this scale before and he threw his whole being into it. Unfortunately, prohibition set the site on a slippery slope and it was eventually bulldozed in 1929.

Then

 Now

Mark Hopkins Mansion

Set atop San Francisco’s Nob Hill, railway magnate Mark Hopkins’ mansion was a display of ornate Victorian excess when it was completed in 1878. The man never got to see the finished product for himself because he passed away just before the job was done. Unfortunately, the building itself didn’t go the distance either as it was destroyed in the fire that followed the city’s 1906 earthquake and was never rebuilt. The site is now the location of the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco.

Then

 Now

Birmingham Terminal

From 1909 until 1969, Birmingham was Alabama’s principal railway station and covered two full blocks of the city. Its Byzantine-esque profile made serious waves at the time, with the architecture’s oriental influence too exotic for some tastes. With its stained-glass skylight and pew-like seating, the general waiting room had ‘place of worship’ vibes but with the railways declining, the interesting design wasn’t enough to save the station from the wrecking ball. Today, the seven-acre site awaits repurposing.

Then

 Now

The Beach Hotel

Built in 1882, the Beach Hotel in Galveston, Texas with its famous wood-frame in red and white stripes lasted barely 16 years before a fire claimed its rare beauty forever. Though fire-fighters were able to save parts of it, it was simply too far gone.

Then

 Now

The Hippodrome

The boards of this Manhattan theatre were visited by everyone from legendary illusionist Harry Houdini to 500-strong choruses to entire circuses. It had capacity for 5,300 spectators and up to 1,000 performers but its fame was short-lived. The popularity of movies played a huge role in the eventual demolition of the building in 1939. The office building that now occupies the site calls itself the Hippodrome Centre – but it’s a lot less fun than the original.

Then

 Now

Comments

As the editor of BUILD I have a keen interest in sustainable housing and new technologies.

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