St. George and the Dragon: The Rooftop Battle

On the rooftop of the Loew’s Jersey Theatre back in May 2001, a fiery battle was to take place again; not literally of course. The 72-year old copper and bronze figures of Saint George and the dragon were being put back in their rightful place after being repaired by David Morgan at the Antique clock gallery in Lebanon, NJ. These two figures brightened up the scene at Journal Square atop the Seth Thomas Clock from the late 20’s to the 50’s or early 60’s. The movements of both figures made it seem like there was a real battle taking place over the movie theater. While the dragon was opening and closings its jaws, St. George would thrust out his weapon to defeat the beast. His victory was then celebrated by the tolling bells of the Thomas clock. Unfortunately, the clock and two figures are not in function at this time but are in good condition.

While the two figures were going through repairs, the Ornate Terra Cotta clock Tower that surrounded them also went through major reconstruction. A new structural system was designed and new anchoring details were developed for re-installation of the original terra cotta. In the pictures below, you can see the theatre in its earlier years as well as the pre and post restoration on top the building.

Some information taken from NY Times Article, “St. George and Dragon to Fight Again, 2001.”

#flashbackfriday #LoewsTheatre #JerseyCity #HistoricPreservation

 

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Historic Schoolhouse Reconstruction

Constructed in 1858, the Prospect Plains Schoolhouse was eventually re purposed and used for many years as the Monroe Township Municipal Building. When the old municipal building was demolished, the original schoolhouse frame was salvaged along with a few remnants of original woodwork and flooring.

Using these pieces and historic photographs for guidance (see below), HMR completed construction documents for the reconstruction of the schoolhouse on the Dey Farm site.

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This project was a great approach to recreating a historical structure that was built more than 150 years back! The reconstruction is complete and a grand re-opening ceremony was held on June 18th at Dey Farm to dedicate the schoolhouse to former councilman, Henry L. Miller (see below). The final result is absolutely phenomenal for sure!

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Post Courtesy of Kurt Leasure. 

Preservation Plan for Hoboken City Hall

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HMR Architects was selected to compile a Preservation Plan for Hoboken City Hall. The goal of the document is to act as a planning document to guide, prioritize and inform the city on how best to preserve the architectural history of the building while also being able to accommodate modern office practices.

Designed by Francis George Himpler in the Second Empire style in 1881, the two-story city hall with a raised basement was constructed of red brick with brownstone trim around the windows and doors. An elegant slate Mansard roof with projecting dormers and large double-hung windows provided a sense of impressive height and power in the building. The main entrance was exemplified by a slightly projecting bay and tower with intricate classical detailing. Unfortunately, there are no descriptions found of the original interior conditions, but it is known that the National Guard utilized the second floor as an armory because of the tall ceiling height while the rest of the building was occupied by city officials and agencies.

1911 postcard after additions were constructed.
1911 postcard after additions were constructed.
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Hoboken City Hall circa 1900. Courtesy of the Museum of Hoboken.

After 30 years, as the government was quickly outgrowing the building, an addition was proposed to help alleviate overcrowding and restore dilapidated spaces. In 1911, two symmetrical wings were constructed projecting from the front facade, the Mansard roof was removed and an occupiable third floor and flat roof was added, wholly altering the original Second-Empire style façade. A deep portico was inserted between the added wings, protecting an exterior staircase leading to the main entrance which was relocated from the ground floor to the first floor. Schneider & Dieffenbach, a local architecture firm, was responsible for the alterations and faced much opposition from architectural critics as well as the general public in regards to many of their design choices. The most controversial design element was the use of yellow brick cladding of the new wings, creating a drastic difference between the original red brick. Ultimately, the red brick was painted yellow to match the addition.

This building, which has served the same continuous purpose for over 130 years, has significantly evolved as the city government expanded but has remarkably not been drastically altered since the addition in 1911. The jail, which was a detached structure in the rear of the building, was destroyed after a more modern jail was built elsewhere. IMG_0833Exterior patch repairs have been completed but are now deteriorating and replacement aluminum windows from the 1970s are also failing. On the interior, new partition walls and small, non-ADA compliant restrooms have been added. Multiple HVAC systems have been installed without any coordination between them or the building. Despite these issues, much of what is believed to be original interior fabric remains, including pressed tin coffered ceilings in many office spaces and encaustic floor tiles in the first floor entry hall.

While the preservation plan is still in its early stages of research, field surveying, and 1SH-13 cdevelopment, intriguing elements are already being revealed. Thanks to Chris Frey and his team at Keystone Preservation Group, an interesting color palette has been discovered about the original wall covering using photomicrograph technology. This technique enables Keystone to be able to determine paint and wallpaper campaigns on any surface. Today, most of the spaces are painted white. However, based on the photomicrograph results, it is apparent that the spaces may have once been very colorful. In the photo comparison, it can be seen that even in 1981, the walls had more character than they do today with wainscotting and other treatments, outlined in red.

Entry Hall circa 1985. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
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Entry Hall, present day.

The Hoboken City Hall is a landmark in the city and deserves special attention to how it is used and taken care of in the future. HMR is excited to provide preservation recommendations that will accurately represent the history of the structure while appropriately accommodating contemporary offices.

Grand Opening of the Henry Phillips House

This past weekend was the Grand Opening of the historic Henry Phillips Farmhouse at Howell Living History Farm in Hopewell Township, New Jersey. For the last four years, HMR Architects has been working with the Mercer County Parks Commission to restore the building to its period of interpretation which is 1890-1910.

To mark the event, there was a ribbon cutting ceremony as well as tours of the farmhouse and grounds. An NJ.com article covering the celebration points out that the event also included “an informative exhibit tent, music, lawn games, food, crafts, [and] horse-drawn wagon rides.” Fun!

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event program

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Lee’s Pavilion

HMR Architects has been working with the Lake Hopatcong Foundation and the Morris County Park Commission to produce a feasibility study for reuse of the Lee’s County Park Marina Pavilion in Mt. Arlington, NJ.

Lake Hopatcong, the largest lake in New Jersey, was a popular upscale resort area from the 1880s through the 1930s, and continued to be popular as a middle-class bungalow and summer home community, with more and more homes becoming year-round residences in the second half of the twentieth century.  In 1919, brothers Clarence J. Lee and Edwin Lee purchased property on the lake in the Borough of Mt. Arlington.   The property was named Lee Brothers Park and operated as a picnic grounds and bathing beach with tour boats.  In September of 1923, construction began on a new pavilion that would be used as a refreshment stand, bath houses, and boat rental.

 

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Photo 1: One of the earliest images of the pavilion, soon after construction

 

Sometime in the 1930s, the porch of the Pavilion was enclosed, greatly changing the look of the building.  Salvaged window sashes were installed – one attached at the top and the bottom one on hinges so it could be opened up in nice weather.  The bathhouses near the building on the west and south sides were removed and new ones built farther down the shoreline near the dock.  Later in the 1930s or early 1940s a new sunshade roof was added to the west and part of the south elevation.

 

Photo 2: Pavilion soon after porch window installation but before full enclosure of entry as shown in later photos. Bathhouses on south side appear to be in original location still.
Photo 2: Pavilion soon after porch window installation but before full enclosure of entry as shown in later photos. Bathhouses on south side appear to be in original location still.
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Photo 3: Pavilion after enclosure and new bathhouses. Some windows are flipped up in open position. Bathing suit rentals and storage for valuables is visible on the basement level.
Photo 4: Pavilion after the sunshade roof was added. Lee Brothers boats on right side including the Elizabeth Jane.
Photo 4: Pavilion after the sunshade roof was added. Lee Brothers boats on right side including the Elizabeth Jane.

 

The Morris County Park Commission took over the building and property in 1995 and renamed Lee’s Park the Lee’s County Park Marina.  At this time the pavilion was still being rented out as a refreshment stand selling ice cream and other food, but was shortly thereafter vacated.  The main level has been used only for storage since the late 1990s, but the basement was renovated a few years ago by the Mountain Lakes Rowing Club as their training and boat storage facility.

The Lee’s County Park Marina Pavilion is not on the National Register, but it is a unique example of surviving “lake-style” recreational architecture in New Jersey.  It retains much of its character and is significant as an early twentieth century lake recreation kiosk.

The Lee’s County Park Marina Pavilion is simple in both its form and materials.  The building is a simple one-story-with-basement rectangular block with a combination of a gable and a hipped roof.  The foundation of the building is concrete.  On the main level, the walls are painted wood shakes below with windows above wrapping around the entire perimeter.  The upper gable walls have been covered with aluminum siding.  The basement walls are concrete with some areas of wood infill below windows.

 

Photo 5: Current photo of the east elevation, the side facing the road.
Photo 5: Current photo of the east elevation, the side facing the road

 

The hinged double-hung wood window sashes that were installed in the 1930s to enclose the porch have been replaced with aluminum awning windows.  The exterior basement windows have been replaced with aluminum sliders.  Original windows remain in the inner shell of the main level and the basement.  Most of the doors are original, with the exception of some modern exterior doors.  The original doors are wood and have several different styles.

 

Photo 6: Current photo of the southwest corner of the Pavilion. The lake is to the left.
Photo 6: Current photo of the southwest corner of the Pavilion. The lake is to the left.

 

The building has a simple plan with an inner shell that was the exterior when originally built in 1923, and an enclosed porch on all four sides that was originally open-air.  The building is entered from the southeast corner facing the road on an exterior area of the porch.  The enclosed porch has a large bar counter with shelving on the south side.  The inner core has a kitchen area, two small storage rooms, a bathroom, and stairs to the basement.  The basement also has an inner core, which is one room, and an outer perimeter which is full-height to the north and west and crawlspace to the south and east.

 

Photo 7: Eric Holtermann of HMR Architects surveys conditions on the enclosed porch of Lee’s Pavilion.
Photo 7: Eric Holtermann of HMR Architects surveys conditions on the enclosed porch of Lee’s Pavilion
Photo 8: View west in the snack bar.
Photo 8: View west in the snack bar
Photo 9: Kitchen of Lee’s Pavilion showing cabinetry, stove, and pass-through window to snack bar.
Photo 9: Kitchen of Lee’s Pavilion showing cabinetry, stove, and pass-through window to snack bar

 

The period of significance for Lee’s Pavilion runs from its construction in 1923 through the early 1930s when the porch was enclosed, and extending to c. 1940 when it was believed the sunshade roof was added.  While no spaces will be restored to be interpreted to the period of significance, efforts will be made to restore certain finishes and features to better reflect the period of significance.  For instance, the windows around the porch enclosure will be replaced to more closely match the 1930s ones, but the room’s function as a snack bar may change.  The three options for reuse being proposed in the study center around food service and banquet hall space.

 

Photo 10: Standing in the enclosed porch of Lee’s Pavilion looking out to the lake
Photo 10: Standing in the enclosed porch of Lee’s Pavilion looking out to the lake

 

The goal of the feasibility study is to act as a planning document to guide, prioritize and inform future rehabilitation endeavors at the site, and to determine financially- and architecturally-feasible possibilities for reuse of Lee’s Pavilion.  The building is in generally good condition and is situated in a prime waterfront location on Lake Hopatcong, making it a strong candidate for adaptive reuse.  The report will be of particular use in broadening the understanding and appreciation of the property and in developing future rehabilitation efforts that will improve the representation of the building as an example of early twentieth century “lake-style” recreational architecture, while improving the accommodation for future uses in the building.

 

Somerville Boro Hall Ceiling Restoration

HMR Architects has been working with the Borough of Somerville to restore the vaulted ceiling at the second floor stair hall at Somerville Borough Hall.  Borough Hall was constructed in 1888 as the residence of Daniel Robert.  The building is a Gothic Revival residence following very closely the design of the Harral House in Bridgeport, Connecticut, designed by Alexander Jackson Davis.  The house became an Elks Lodge in 1923 and the Borough acquired it in 1958 for use as Borough Hall.  In 1980 the building suffered a fire, after which the damaged vaulted ceiling was concealed above a dropped ceiling.  In the course of the project, 16 plaster busts were replicated and ornate stenciling was uncovered beneath layers of soot and paint.  Following exposure windows and paint analysis by Keystone Preservation, we were able to restore the original design. Below are some images revealing the process and results:

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Exposure windows installed by Keystone Preservation reveal the basic forms of the upper stencil.

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Highlighting the outlines of the stencil on the wall.

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Chris Frey and Elizabeth Lissy of Keystone Preservation color match the concealed stencil with Munsell color chips.

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Julie Kroon of HMR traces the stencil onto trace paper.

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The completed mock-up of the upper stencil between two of the replicated plaster busts.

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The completed mock-up of the wainscoting stencil.

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The project is nearly complete and we will be meeting with the Borough soon to discuss future projects in adjacent rooms where other vaulted ceilings have also been obscured beneath dropped ceilings.

Looking Back to 2013: Preservation New Jersey Awards

PNJ Gala Postcard

HMR Architects was the recipient of the New Preservation Initiatives Award at the 2013 Preservation New Jersey Annual Gala.  The firm was recognized along with the Mount Tabor Historical Society for our work on the Historic Preservation Master Plan for the Mount Tabor Historic District.

Mount Tabor was founded in 1869 as a Methodist Camp Meeting summer retreat.  It developed over time into a year-round residential community and retains a high degree of architectural integrity.  Also remarkable about the historic district is the extensive collection of historic photographic and print documentation held by the Mount Tabor Historical Society.  A National Register Nomination for the district, also completed by HMR, is currently under review by the NJ Historic Preservation Office.

Eric Holtermann of HMR and Michelle La Conto Munn of the Mount Tabor Historical Society receive the PNJ New Preservation Initiatives Award at the Annual Gala. Also pictured are Kurt Leasure and Stephanie Valentine of HMR Architects, and Beth Shaw and Marc Miller of the Mount Tabor Historical Society
Eric Holtermann of HMR and Michelle La Conto Munn of the Mount Tabor Historical Society receive the PNJ New Preservation Initiatives Award at the Annual Gala. Also pictured are Kurt Leasure and Stephanie Valentine of HMR Architects, and Beth Shaw and Marc Miller of the Mount Tabor Historical Society
32 Trinity Place, Mount Tabor – then and now. One of the many examples of the fine level of historic documentation of the Mount Tabor Historic District
32 Trinity Place, Mount Tabor – then and now. One of the many examples of the extensive photographic documentation of the Mount Tabor Historic District

In addition to the firm award, Phil Holt, one of the founding partners of HMR Architects, received the Sarah P. Fiske Legacy and Leadership Award.  Phil founded HMR in 1965, then Holt & Morgan Architects, and has worked on countless preservation and new design projects throughout New Jersey.  Testament to Phil’s commitment to preservation is the fact that he has served on the New Jersey Historic Review Board for over 30 years.

HMR Architects founding partner Philetus H. Holt, III, receives the Sarah P. Fiske Legacy and Leadership Award from Preservation New Jersey. The award was presented by Janet Foster, at left.
HMR Architects founding partner Philetus H. Holt, III, receives the Sarah P. Fiske Legacy and Leadership Award from Preservation New Jersey. The award was presented by Janet Foster, at left.