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Uses for buildings "too far gone"

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Uses for buildings "too far gone"

Postby catya on Fri Oct 07, 2011 11:02 am

As I was pondering a local issue – the fate of an old early 1900s sugar beet factory – I thought aha, why not ask my fellow old house fans at the OHW. It is apparently reaching the point where it will collapse and be unrepairable.

Wisconsin with its Germanic-Scandinavian heritage tends to have sort of a neat-freak culture, meaning things aren’t often left to be old and funky – they have to either be removed, or remuddled into something shiny and new. Of course the current economic climate is nudging people to lean towards the first option.

Some of us have been wanting to look at the middle ground – how this ruin could live on as a ruin… or some sort of unheated structure... hopefully in a way that is low cost/affordable. The land this sits on is owned by a botanical garden so there are definitely possibilities here…

Ive googled examples of industrial ruins used for other purposes – in US and elsewhere – but not finding many and wonder if ya’ll might know of any in your area that you could tell me about? TIA for your input!

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/g ... 002e0.html
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Re: Uses for buildings "too far gone"

Postby catya on Fri Oct 07, 2011 11:05 am

Ive never tried to post a photo - hope it works! This one is from the article:
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Re: Uses for buildings "too far gone"

Postby Don M on Fri Oct 07, 2011 11:15 am

The big problem with ruins is their maintenance which seems an oxymoron! If structures are abandoned to nature they continue to deteriorate until they totally collapse & are returned to the earth. Some take longer than others to achieve this (stone structures vs wood). Of note are old stone castle ruins; if they are to be preserved in their ruined state walls must be shored up & the stone joints repointed with morter etc. Old wood buildings require even more expensive work like keeping a good roof on them, stopping water infiltration to avoid rot & insect destruction, foundation repair etc. If they are not maintained they become dangerous to animals & people; they are attractive to explore & lead to possible fatal accidents due to collapse of walls floors or ceilings on the unsuspecting.
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Re: Uses for buildings "too far gone"

Postby triguy128 on Fri Oct 07, 2011 5:10 pm

I agree. Even if left unheated. You still need to keep a good roof on it and brick walls and foundation in good condition. that's not cheap in a large industrial facility. Roof replacement alone can reach into the millions.... and the roof itself is liekly just wood planks on wood or steel trusses so it's will eventually need replacing. the support trusses will need repainting.

If left totally open and unheated, it will be come a big birdhouse...if it hasn't already.

I have seen some similar sites in good condition rehabbed into micro breweries or converted into restaurants and hte large open spaces make great bnaquet halls.

Here's an example of one near us... although they ruined the nice open high ceiling and big windows... by installing a mezzanane in the middle.... like literally across the middle of the window height.... and they repalced most of the windows with cheap vinyl junk. But I digress... it woudl have been in worse shape if they didnt; step in. They weren't able to save the boiler stack. It collapsed 2 years ago and ruined a space they wanted to use for a beer garden.

Danno might be able to add more... it's clsoer to him than me...by a whole 2 miles. :mrgreen:

http://www.warsawbrewery.com/about.htm
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Re: Uses for buildings "too far gone"

Postby Danno on Sat Oct 08, 2011 12:35 pm

They have done a good job of saving it from falling into further disrepair. As far as I can tell they haven't done much that can't be fixed later. The windows were mostly gone with rotting wood, so at least they didn't rip out repairable ones for the vinyl. They also did a good job of keeping the window shapes. Can't tell you how many times I've seen places with squared out windows and it looks stupid (my house has two like that, makes my stomach turn when I tink about it)

Anyway, they haven't done much with the upper floors, but the potential is great. What you can't see from the pics on the main page is the wonderful river view.
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Re: Uses for buildings "too far gone"

Postby melissakd on Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:22 pm

We had an old warehouse here that would have made a perfect park pavilion (tragically it was demolished). But it was much smaller and simpler. I'm afraid something this big couldn't serve as a useful park pavilion (for events associated with the botanical garden).

I think you might be able to leave a manageable "ruin" if you very carefully knocked down most of it. For example, you could preserve the arcaded section of the first-story wall in the photo, plus whatever bits around it would help keep it standing. Bricks from the upper story could be used to lay paths or patio space.

Do you know whether there are interesting interior elements, such as a lobby floored with encaustic tile? Or is it just plain throughout? An encaustic tile floor could last a long time even in the open {I think}. Pretty features serve as gentrification bait. If there aren't any, you end up with my house: too big for poor people to take care of, too plain for rich people to want to.

:?
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Re: Uses for buildings "too far gone"

Postby triguy128 on Sun Oct 09, 2011 10:45 am

Danno wrote:They have done a good job of saving it from falling into further disrepair. As far as I can tell they haven't done much that can't be fixed later. The windows were mostly gone with rotting wood, so at least they didn't rip out repairable ones for the vinyl. They also did a good job of keeping the window shapes. Can't tell you how many times I've seen places with squared out windows and it looks stupid (my house has two like that, makes my stomach turn when I tink about it)

Anyway, they haven't done much with the upper floors, but the potential is great. What you can't see from the pics on the main page is the wonderful river view.


We had our wedding reception there. The river view was awesome at sunset. It's lost most of it's magic and charm in the banquet room since they added the aweful mezzanine in there. I don't see how it really added all that much more seating. WE also had a couple of disputes and billing issues after our reception. They did a bait and switch on the Champaign (Requested and paid for Martini & Rossi (Descent stuff) and got Andre... cheap stuff... my bride wasn't happy). They were a little disorganized...although we've gotten used to less than "professional" operations in a small town. Most small businesses just don't know any better around here.... on the plus side, you're not just a number. IF anyone was open past 5PM at least 1 day a week or have significant weekend hours we might actually shop more locally.
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Re: Uses for buildings "too far gone"

Postby PowerMuffin on Tue Oct 11, 2011 3:07 pm

An old Kuner's canning facility here was turned into apartments/condos. It looks great and serves a good purpose. Actually, it looks a lot like the picture posted.

On the other hand, we also have a sugar beet factory and a flour mill that are abandoned and look very junky and unsafe. The flour mill was recentley set on fire and so looks even worse than before. The town has been talking about options, but there isn't the budget to do much.
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Re: Uses for buildings "too far gone"

Postby Woodlawn on Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:10 pm

There are a couple of places here in Chicago that come to my mind in terms of being a ruin made useful...they don't get too much notice by casual observers but they're interesting nonetheless.

Here's a link to a site that mentions the former First Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, which is quite pretty at night viewed from the highway: http://www.chicagosavvytours.com/apps/blog/show/prev?from_id=5893855

Closer to downtown, there's a small brick structure that used to be a diner (seen here when open:http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidwilson1949/3520841620/) - for whatever reason, the small facade was left standing and it's now a tiny plot of land with a tree next to a parking lot (the signs have since been removed): http://www.flickr.com/photos/bwchicago/7187761/

And, as much as it pains me to suggest, I think the best course of action for the burned-out, still-standing shell of Pilgrim Baptist Church would be a 'useful ruin': http://www.flickr.com/photos/crouch/83451811/
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Re: Uses for buildings "too far gone"

Postby dalmatiangirl61 on Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:31 am

My best advice? Let crazy people live in them! :D
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