Thursday, May 25, 2017

Will what's left of Echo House be preserved and protected and not neglected?

Three cheers for St. Augustine Historic Architectural Review Board members for putting the brakes on the latest indecent demand to demolish an historic structure.
Rev. RONALD RAWLS of Gainesville, Florida, pastor of St. Paul A.M.E. Church in Linconville, was told to come back on June 15, 2017 with required data if he wants to pursue an application to destroy what's left of Echo House.  And Board member and former chair Randal Roark said at the May 25, 2017 HARB meeting that he wants to consider recommending the City of St. Augustine take back the property. The City has a "right of reverter" to take the property back if it is no longer used for a charitable purpose.
HARB in 2014 and City Commission in 2015 voted to allow RAWLS to destroy 2/3 of Echo House, a 1926 structure that was long used as a community center and a retirement home for African-Americans, one of the few places in St. Augustine where African-Americans were treated with dignity during the days of Jim Crow segregation.
 But some of the parishioners at RAWLS' church (which he called his "business") were angrily demanding he be allowed to destroy our history because God told him to do so).
Enough flummery, dupery and nincompoopery with our heritage and our history.
Pave paradise and put up a parking lot?
Tear down our history in the name of what, exactly?
Rev. RAWLS "School of Excellence" was initially the basis of his 2014 demolition demand.
The School folded.
RAWLS admitted there is no "economic hardship."
He claims the demolition is "best for our (sic) neighborhood." Again, RAWLS lives in Gainesville, where his wife is a law professor specializing in juvenile justice (or injustice). RAWLS commutes to St. Augustine each day, and has done since 2007.
RAWLS said if he was denied another demolition permit, he would "go away."
RAWLS' demolition permit must be DENIED.
Echo House is one of the top ten threatened structures on the Citizens for Preservation of St. Augustine list -- this is a test case of whether our City applies the law to facts, or allows emotions (and trickery) to be used to destroy our history.

Echo House must be declared a city landmark. As suggested by HARB member Randall Roark, the City should take back Echo House pursuant to its right of reverter -- the building is no longer being used for a charitable purpose. Rev. RONALD RAWLS has referred to his church as his "business." His parishioners stated that Jesus commanded him to take Echo House and tear it down for parking. So much for destruction of our history. So much for blasphemy. Enough.

Here's St. Augustine Preservation Planner Jenny Wolfe's report:

STAFF REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION Prepared for May 25, 2017 Meeting
Certificate of Demolition F2017-0066
100 M L King Avenue
Architectural Style Construction Date Florida Master Site File National Register Status Zoning District
Parcel Number Plan review
Reverend Ron Rawls, St. Paul AME Church St. Paul AME Church
To demolish the remainder of the Echo House building, a contributing building to the Lincolnville National Register Historic District, and constructed ca. 1926.
April 18, 2017

Mediterranean Revival
ca. 1926
Contributing building to the Lincolnville NRHD Government Use (GU)

208980 0000
The applicant is requesting approval for demolition of the remainder of the building, which was partially demolished in 2015.
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COD F2017-0066 Staff Report & Recommendation May 25, 2017 HARB Meeting
Eligibility for Demolition Review (Section 28-87(3), CoSA Code of Ordinances)
The Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) is responsible for the review of all applications for demolition permits for structures that are:
  •   fifty (50) years of age or older;
  •   listed on the Florida Master Site File; or
  •   designated as an historical landmark (as defined by Sec. 28-87.10)
    This structure was built by 1926 according to the FMSF.
    National Register Status (Section 28-89, CoSA Code of Ordinances)
    A property currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places individually or as a contributing structure in an historic district is afforded additional scrutiny in the demolition review process by: 1) requiring submittal of a condition assessment report performed by a qualified professional; 2) requiring the applicant to prove “undue economic hardship” to justify demolition; and 3) allowing HARB the option to deny the demolition request if an undue economic hardship is not proven and removal of the building or structure will be detrimental to the historic and architectural character of the city.
    This structure is a contributing building to the Lincolnville National Register Historic District, no update or re-evaluation has been made as a result of the partial demolition of resource.
    Local Landmark Designation (Section 28-87(3) & (10), CoSA Code of Ordinances)
    HARB is assigned the authority of reviewing all applications for demolition permits for primary structures... for potential designation as an historical landmark. Local “historical landmarks” are defined as a building, object, site or structure of the highest historical, architectural, cultural or archaeological importance and whose demolition, removal, relocation, or alteration would constitute an irreplaceable loss to the character and quality of the city.
    This structure is not listed in a local historic district and is not individually listed on a local register.
    Conditions for Demolition Approval (Section 28-89(2)d, CoSA Code of Ordinances)
    HARB has the discretion in its review of an application for Certificate of Demolition to require, as conditions for approval, one or more of the following:
Design of Replacement Building - As a condition of issuing a certificate of demolition, the board may require the replacement design be approved by the board and that no permit be issued for the demolition of said structure until drawings sufficient for a building permit and all necessary requirements for the construction of a new building have been submitted for the new construction.
The applicant indicates that the property will be redeveloped for parking and playground.
Architectural Salvage - As a condition of issuing a certificate of demolition, the board may require, at the applicant’s expense, salvage and preservation of significant building materials, architectural details and ornaments, fixtures, and the like for reuse in restoration of other historic properties.
If demolition is approved, the applicant shall salvage and preserve significant building materials.
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COD F2017-0066 Staff Report & Recommendation May 25, 2017 HARB Meeting
Archival Documentation - The board may also require at the applicant’s expense the recording of the structure for archival purposes prior to demolition. The recording may include, but shall not be limited to, photographs and measured drawings.
Photo documentation was conducted for the whole property after the 2014 HARB meeting.
Other Demolition Review Criteria (AGHP, 1997)
In addition to the criteria previously outlined, the Architectural Guidelines for Historic Preservation (AGHP) provide standards and guidelines for the HARB to use in their review of proposed demolitions. The criteria listed below address architectural and historical significance along with contributions the building or structure make to an overall context (historic district, neighborhood, streetscape, skyline, etc.) HARB is to take into account the following:
  1. Whether or not the structure is within or is immediately facing a locally designated historic preservation zoning district.
    This structure is not located in a historic preservation zoning district and does not face a local historic preservation zoning district.
  2. The contribution of the structure to the mass and scale of the streetscape.
    This building occupies the opposite corner of significant neighborhood buildings including the Excelsior School and St. Benedict School on M L King Avenue. Originally there were 3 distinct buildings that were later connected to create a C- shaped footprint and matched the massing of other residential and small commercial buildings in the area. The large front yard area contributes to a park-like setting at this intersection. The materials, scale, mass, and setting of the remaining building still contributes to the streetscape.
  3. The impact of the loss of the structure on the streetscape.
    Demolition of the remaining portion of the overall building complex of the Echo House will create a void in the streetscape.
  4. Whether or not the structure will be replaced and the impact of a replacement structure, or lack thereof, on the streetscape.
    The applicant states that the site will be redeveloped for parking and a park however no plans have been provided. The previous HARB review included preliminary plans for a parking lot and park and since that time the space has been enclosed with a picket fence. No current plans have been provided to evaluate the impact of the proposed redevelopment of the property. The lack of a replacement structure creates a void within the streetscape.
  5. The historical or cultural merit of the structure.
    The building complex was deemed historically and culturally significant as a contributing building to the Lincolnville National Register Historic District. In a proposed compromise following several HARB meetings and public comment the HARB approved the demolition of all but this remaining piece. During that process, the HARB further established the property as historically and culturally significant.
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COD F2017-0066 Staff Report & Recommendation May 25, 2017 HARB Meeting
The summary of the basis for that significance was related to the social history and significant persons of St. Augustine as follows:
  •   It was constructed as a segregated facility
  •   Funds from the estate of Dr. Andrew Anderson contributed to its construction
  •   Locally prominent architect Fred Henderich designed the building
  •   Rosalie Gordon-Mills directed the building’s adaptation to a community
    center called Echo House
  •   Stylistically the building represents the Mediterranean-Influenced style which,
    while prominent in the state during the building boom of the 1920s, was not common in the Lincolnville neighborhood.
  1. The impact of the loss of the structure on the historical or cultural integrity of the city, district and neighborhood.
    Demolishing a contributing structure to a National Register Historic District is a negative impact on the cultural integrity of the city because the buildings are recognized for their historic and architectural value to the neighborhood, district, and city which is irreplaceable. For consideration is the fact that the National Register has not been updated to reflect the partial demolition of the resource. Generally, if more than 50% of the building is removed a building does not retain enough integrity for the National Register. Even though the entire complex was constructed with separate buildings that were later connected, the overall complex is only listed once on the list of contributing buildings, not divided into separate building components.
  2. Whether or not the structure is representative of a style or type of architecture or a method of construction.
    The structure represents the Mediterranean Revival style because of the stucco finish, hipped roof, tile details, foundation coursing, and tile roof (which has been removed). The structural materials of the building include hollow clay tile.
  3. Whether or not the structure is one of the last surviving examples of its style or type of architecture or a method of construction.
    During the boom time in Florida the Mediterranean Revival style was a popular choice of architectural influence so the style is not unique. However, in the Lincolnville National Register Historic District this style is only evident in 3 other buildings out of 548 contributing buildings shown on the original nomination form.
    It was also one of a few community buildings in a primarily residential historic district.
  4. Whether or not the structure is of such design, craftsmanship or materials that it either could not be reproduced, or could be reproduced only with great difficulty or expense. The condition of the structure, and the possibility of rehabilitating or relocating the structure.
    This building is a traditionally constructed masonry building with the Mediterranean Revival style of architecture using structural tile. New building materials and building codes would affect the ability of a replacement building to be compatible with the original character of the building and historic architecture of the area.
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COD F2017-0066 Staff Report & Recommendation May 25, 2017 HARB Meeting
10. The justification for the proposed demolition.
The applicant states that the property will be redeveloped for parking and a park area
and included photographs depicting the current state of the building.
The original complex at 100 M L King Avenue included one story, Mediterranean Revival- style buildings that were constructed as 3 distinct buildings and later connected with continuous interior access. The property is listed as a contributing building to the Lincolnville National Register Historic District. A separate accessory structure also occupied the site behind the building complex. When constructed in 1926 the building was a community center. It was first called the Lincolnville Branch-St. Johns County Welfare Federation, and served the African American population with a bath house, infirmary, administration building, and park space. After some time, particularly after the Civil Rights Movement integrated other social services facilities, the buildings sat vacant. In 1973 it was purchased by Rosalie Gordon-Mills who was already operating ECHO House, Inc. in these buildings with a library and tutoring services.
Following four HARB meetings in 2014 a partial demolition was approved with “the understanding that the southeast building was to remain and be restored according to the plans provided by the applicant.(refer to minutes attached)
There is not an updated building condition assessment report provided in the application materials and no description by the applicant of the attempts made to restore the building as presented during the 2014 HARB hearing. The HARB does not have this information to help establish the current condition of the building and its integrity.
The applicant may wish to present evidence of economic hardship with the list of items provided on the application to substantiate that a denial of a certificate of demolition would cause an onerous and excessive burden to be placed upon the applicant.
In a phone conversation with Reverend Rawls on May 16th, staff confirmed details of the application to include the need for parking, prohibitive costs of rehabilitation, and the deficiency of the application in terms of an updated building condition assessment. Staff advised that this or other supporting information could be provided to assist in the HARB review process.
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COD F2017-0066 Staff Report & Recommendation May 25, 2017 HARB Meeting
Based on the review of information submitted by the applicant, the 2014 HARB meetings, the Architectural Guidelines for Historic Preservation, applicable city ordinances, and without the support of evidence to the contrary, staff finds that the Board may CONTINUE the application for a Certificate of Demolition for the property located at 100 M L King Avenue because the application does not include a current building condition assessment report and/or optional materials that the applicant may provide to support a claim of undue economic hardship.
Jenny Wolfe, MS Architectural Studies 
Historic Preservation Officer

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

God just spoke to me last night...ask me to relay the desire for people to stop using his/her ( couldn't tell if male or female by the voice) name to justify stupid acts and killing.

God also mentioned that in no shape form or manner are parking lots part of the heavenly plan and I quote " those nut jobs must be smoking crack". God promised to check the tapes and report back on the smoking crack allegation...stayed tuned for more:)

BTW Jesus was busy last night...helping teh Pope sterilize the room and his hand after hosting it was explained by God...the vapors of stupid tend to linger in rooms and in the air and Trump brought so much "stupid" with him that higher powers had to get involved in the clean up of the Vatican. Jesus has Rawl's church on the list of "stupid" cleaning but now since 11/9/2016 Jesus is so busy dealing with "stupid" that the Rawl's project has been pushed back...