In my last snapshot , I asked if anyone knew the history behind the stone benches at Harvard & E Roy. Lucky for us, commenter Glenn was one of the people who came up with the idea and fills us in on how they came to be.
I appreciate your appreciation. Actually the benches were put in approximately 15 years ago, using materials salvaged from the Mountaineers Building, a nice old building formerly at the corner of 7th & Pine and torn down for the Convention Center. The terra cotta ornamentation was stored in the basement of the Eagles Hall for awhile at the instigation of Paul Schell (not then mayor). There they stayed until a local architect/U.W. professor took them all, Kevin Kane. The deal, as I understand it, was that he could have them for free if he took it all.
At the time I was a student at the U.W. Urban Planning school and lived just down from the corner (still do). The corners were broadly cut at the time, with huge curb radiuses, mirroring the Cirque. (If you want an idea how wide, they bordered the sidewalk that goes by the building). As a result, for pedestrians crossing Harvard while walking east on Roy meant this meant walking across a lot of road with cars making fast right turns on to Harvard. So I thought it would be a good idea to bring the curb out to closer to a 90 degree angle, create some public space and make things safer for pedestrians.
The Department of Neighborhoods provided a small grant, Kevin Kane donated the materials, did the design and lent an intern from his office to help with installation (as well as showing up some afternoons himself). He also made some tiles, like the one installed in the “window” of the wall. At the same time, to help across the street, the DAR agreed to fill out their corner too.
Since then they have been mostly maintained by the Cirque Apts. I still see people sitting in the benches and the graffitti, though annoying hasn’t been too bad, so I guess it worked out.
Nearby resident, ex urban planning student and hardly at all a power that be, or even a power that was.
One thing that I’ve always thought about the benches as I’ve walked by is, “man, they just don’t build stuff like that anymore” referring to both the sturdy stone construction, and just the whole idea of using a couple of benches and modest amount of space to create a public common area. So in that respect it’s encouraging to find out that it’s not so old.
I did quite a bit of digging online, but wasn’t able to find much more info. I really wanted to find a picture of the building to see what all the detailing looked like in it’s original use, but couldn’t come up with much.
I did find this page out of a packet called “Making Streets that Work” that describes the project in more detail.
And based on the info about the original building, I found this picture of the ground floor (pulled from this book preview ), but (as far as I can tell) you can’t see any of the ornamentation that ended up on our corner.
The building was at 715-19 Pine St. If you know where to find a picture of the rest of the building, send it or link to it and I’ll add it to this post.
To commenter Glenn, thanks for the info, and thanks for your hard work helping make the neighborhood more livable place, back while I was busy learning long division.
Now who’s got some old building pieces laying around to fix up this giant waste of space?