Monday, February 7, 2011

Armory Update and other stories

If you are a building, it's not very comforting to know that there is a fate worse than abandonment. It's called the wrecking ball. Ten years ago Duluth's Armory was designated for demise. Then fate stepped in. Thus spared, proponents for the historic building began the arduous uphill task of finding funding to restore the building where Buddy Holly played his second to last concert. Bob Dylan was in the audience that day, claiming it as an experience that helped propel him to seek a career in music.

This weekend a front page story by Christa Lawler in the Duluth News Tribune got my "Aye"... Duluth Armory gets a million bucks.

Lawler wrote, "It’s another step toward making the Duluth Armory, on London Road at the far eastern edge of downtown, a usable public space. The Duluth Armory Arts and Music Center, the nonprofit that bought the facility for $1 in 2003, also announced Friday a partnership with the Alexander Company, a Madison-based developer that already has historic renovation credibility in this area: They restored the Irving School about 20 years ago."

I'd be curious what the final tally will be in the Armory's renovation. The pictures here show what years of neglect can do to an old building. Top right: a wall in one of the rooms. Below that, the buckled tile floor in another room.

Historic buildings do have an appeal. It puts us closer to the past somehow when we recall that entertainers like Will Rogers, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Cash and even pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff were here. It helps create something of a mystical ambience, as memory and history merge.

Personally I've been more than impressed by the restoration that has occurred at the old Clyde Iron Works complex in Duluth's West End. I'd done a few photo shoots there and trust me, it must have taken real imagination to see the potential in that disaster area. Today we have a classy restaurant, bakery, brewery, offices and a fabulous venue for events in a complex of building that was once a steel foundry manufacturing hoists and cranes.

In other news:
The Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl last night, in case you missed it.

During the game CNN announced in an alert from Egypt that all the president's men and Mubarek himself had stepped down from power. Less than a minute later CNN announced that it was mistaken and that President Mubarek had not stepped down. In other words, CNN had overstepped.

In the meantime, it's time to run... have a great new week.

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