The Fairmount Park Welcome Center - the 1960 flying-saucer-shape building in John F. Kennedy Plaza, a favorite of mid-century design enthusiasts - leads a list of seven endangered sites issued Monday by the statewide educational and advocacy group Preservation Pennsylvania.
The round building, at the southwest corner of what is known as LOVE Park, is threatened by a planned city redesign of the plaza. No design decision has been made, but the Welcome Center's precarious place in the city's future prompted the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia to name it one of four "Places to Save" last year. Now Preservation Pennsylvania has weighed in.
The JFK Plaza design team, led by the San Francisco firm Hargreaves Associates and including KieranTimberlake, designer of the new Dilworth Park, has been gathering public input before proceeding with the $15 million project.
Preservation Pennsylvania, based in Harrisburg, has also raised the alarm about the near-century-old West Chester post office. The building, one of the most prominent in the central West Chester business district, has been closed and the U.S. Post Office has plans to sell.
In this case, according to Preservation Pennsylvania, the threat is not so much to the building - the U.S. Postal Service has expressed willingness to impose preservation restrictions on any sale - but to "the surrounding downtown." Loss of post office foot traffic means "reduced opportunities for informal contact among community members," the preservation group said in its citation. "This situation is not unique to West Chester, but is being repeated across the nation."
Five other threatened buildings and places are cited by the group:
Susquehanna Female College in Selinsgrove, Snyder County, is slated for demolition after serving as apartments for a century.
The Muncy Historic District in Lycoming County, half of which is in a flood plain, is threatened more by the rising cost of flood insurance than by Susquehanna River flooding. The threat of abandonment and demolition, says Preservation Pennsylvania, is potentially "devastating" to the entire town.
Lincoln Motor Court in Manns Choice, Bedford County, is the last surviving tourist court on the Lincoln Highway - the first transcontinental automobile highway - where you can book a room, the preservation group says. But the motor court is suffering financially and owners are unable to maintain the 12 1940s cottages.
The Frank & Seder department store building in Pittsburgh, built in 1918, housed the store until 1958 and remained in use until last year. It is now threatened by demolition.
The Harmony Historic District and David Ziegler Farmstead in Butler County, a National Historic Landmark district, is threatened by planned housing developments.