Buildings

Opened in 1875 as the eighth high school in California, with 10 students and three teachers, it was for more than 80 years the city’s sole public high school.

The 1924 brick building with pointed arches over the three-door entry on Mendocino Avenue exemplifies the Gothic Revival style popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States, Quattrochi said.

The hallowed hallways have served as settings for two movies, “Peggy Sue Got Married” in 1986 and “Inventing the Abbotts” in 1997, but flunked a chance to be featured in the late director Wes Craven’s horror flick “Scream” in 1996.

The school board, in the face of a public outcry, denied permission for the shoot, despite Craven’s $30,000 offer. The closing credits for “Scream,” a hit that grossed $173 million worldwide, included the note “No thanks whatsoever to the Santa Rosa City School District Governing Board.”

With a gold-topped tower and a clock facing in each of four directions, the 113-year-old Empire Building on Old Courthouse Square is an icon for downtown Santa Rosa.

The four-story white building, with rounded arches above its doorways, was the work of John Galen Howard, who came to California in 1901 to design the master plan for the UC Berkeley campus.

Built in 1908, the statuesque 20,600-square-foot structure was featured on the cover of the 1982 historical book, “Santa Rosa’s Architectural Heritage.”

“That clock tower has been used as the symbol since the courthouse left downtown,” Keven Brown, co-owner and manager of Corrick’s stationary and gift store, said in a 2014 interview.

Untouched on the outside, the building is now in its fourth incarnation since opening as a bank, transforming into the first home for the late Henry Trione’s Empire College business school and then housing law offices for some 50 years before emerging in 2019 with an interior makeover as Hotel E, a boutique inn.

It was Trione who gilded the top of the tower, but the famous clocks no longer operate.

The tower and the Beaux Arts building are an architectural mismatch of “seemingly incompatible styles,” Quattrocchi said, but the combination works “likely because it’s familiar and part of our daily downtown experience.”

Historian and Press Democrat columnist Gaye LeBaron wrote in May that the Empire Building “was the last remnant of the old downtown.”

The Sonoma County History Museum began its life as the 1910 Santa Rosa post office. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat file )
The Sonoma County History Museum began its life as the 1910 Santa Rosa post office. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat file )

The Museum of Sonoma County, an imposing presence on Santa Rosa’s Seventh Street with four limestone columns atop the front steps, is itself an artifact — and one that narrowly escaped demolition three decades ago.

Designed by James Knox Taylor, known as the “national architect,” the imposing building opened on Fifth Street in 1910 as Santa Rosa’s post office, serving a population of less than 10,000, with federal tax offices on the second floor.

“Its history is written all over it,” said Katie Azanza, a museum manager, noting the “worn areas in the lobby’s terrazzo floor, where postal customers used to stand in line.”

Postal services relocated to a new building on Second Street in 1967, and two years later the old building — with Spanish terra cotta tile roofing — stood in the way of the post-1969 earthquake urban renewal project that created Santa Rosa Plaza.

The late Dan Peterson, a Santa Rosa architect, nominated the old post office for the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 but still had to save it from the wrecking ball.

In 1979, Peterson headed the team that raised and rolled the 1,700-ton building two blocks north, covering 800 feet in 75 days. The Museum of Sonoma County opened its doors in January 1985, following a remodeling and expansion also led by Peterson.

Art deco, gothic

Folks of a certain age recall shopping at Rosenberg’s department store in Santa Rosa, where an elevator operator pushed the buttons to reach the second floor.

The store, which opened in 1937 and closed a half-century later, also gave the city a genuine art deco building, distinguished by its rounded corner and prominent steeple at Fourth and D streets.

“It’s one of those things that instantly takes you back to a former era,” said Loren Cooper of Santa Rosa.

The building sat vacant for several years and was set for demolition until the Barnes & Noble bookstore chain moved into the building that is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It’s a “simple but pleasing example” of the art deco style, Quattrocchi said, noting it was highlighted as “an exemplar of future architectural technology” at the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair.

Source : https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/sea-ranch-lodge-tops-list-of-sonoma-countys-most-beautiful-buildings/

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