Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Remembering La Ronda

Hard to believe, but it's been nearly a year since La Ronda, the Mizner designed Mansion outside of Philadelphia, met with the wrecking ball. The day it was torn down proved that although the historic preservation movement has come so far in the past 20 years, we still have a long way to go. Obviously a lot of people in this country still don't value the importance of our heritage.
The great start of historic preservation in the US may have been the destruction of Penn Station in 1963, which even Jackie Kennedy couldn't save. Many organizations (and bloggers!) brought much needed attention to the fate of La Ronda but it was sadly too late. However, the bright spot is that it again brought our architectural heritage into the media spotlight and I hope none of us loose this passion we had for this place. As La Ronda had fallen into obscurity, hopefully other great works will come to light before it is too late.
A great article summing up the whole debacle is in the October 2010 issue of Architectural Digest, written by Jay Pridmore with fantastic photographs by Craig Kuhner. Hopefully this fantastic issue (the best I've seen in years) heralds the direction of the magazine under its' new editor. I'll leave you with the strong closing statement from the article, a quote from Lori Salganikoff:
"People have to think past their personal ownership of resources because there are some things that ought to outlive them"
Ditto, Lori.

17 comments:

Debra Phillips said...

yes, keep the attention focused on this topic. this was heart wrenching, la ronda seemed to have a soul and shared with us a glimpse of an era never to be duplicated.

debra

Terry said...

So regrettable. But there are so many white elephants out there. Unmaintainable, inflexible, poorly located: problematic in the best of circumstances. We lost one in Atlanta last week. Just the facade of a small commercial building, not a masterpiece but beautiful.

24 Corners said...

I still don't get it....it doesn't comprehend that this actually happened. Still leaves an ache in my gut.

I will be buying a copy of AD tomorrow....bless them!
J~

Reggie Darling said...

Thank you for bringing this building to my attention last year. What a loss it was. I thought of you when I read the piece in AD. And yes, I agree with you, it was the best issue I'd seen of that wretched rag in many years. I think it was Ms. Rense's swan song, and she actually pulled herself together and made it a remarkably good one. I look forward to seeing what it becomes under Ms. Russell. Reggie

Style Court said...

Stefan,

I haven't seen the issue yet but I was thrilled with the lack of a celeb on the cover. Yes, a famous name is there as a hook but the image is a lovely shot of architecture. Thanks for keeping us updated.

Blue said...

I read this article in AD just at the time when ArchitecturalTourist had posted about a small Philip Shutze building torn down over labor day weekend. I don't think there's much historic preservation going on in Atlanta. The lot now stands empty.

This Mizner house is a real loss.

Austen Redman said...

What a crying shame! At least we are left with Craig Kuhner's photographs.

Kerry said...

Wonderful quote and I wish more people thought this way.

Mark D. Ruffner said...

This fight is never-ending and doesn't just apply to historic buildings. In Florida, it seems as though every bit of access to beaches and water is being blocked by monolithic condominiums.

Edith Hope said...

Dear AD, What a very sad story resulting in the loss of an irreplaceable house.

In the 1970s, as newly appointed Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the then very young Roy Strong mounted a superb exhibition, 'The Destruction of the English Country House', in an attempt to highlight the number of houses which had been pulled down since the end of the Second World War. The exhibition proved to have widespread influence and was largely responsible for a complete changeof attitude to this particular aspect of British culture.

I do not know, of course, but do you not have anything similar to The National Trust in the USA? Even organized state by state?

The Down East Dilettante said...

As you know, it is one of the recurrent themes of my own blog---please respect the work of the past on its own merits.

I think the prosperity of the previous decade has done more harm to historic buildings than I saw in the previous forty years...It makes me sad...

As another commenter said, some things should outlive us...but how can we expect respect for culture and the works of civilization when we live in a country where half the electorate actually finds sarah palin credible?

Chesapeake Chic said...

I read the article in AD just last weekend - I still find it completely incomprehensible and heartbreaking!

Kevin said...

The people who bought La Ronda and had it murdered are nothing more than tasteless nouveau riche trash. Just google them and you'll see. They replaced a masterpiece with a cheap-looking cookie cutter McMansion train wreck. Why not buy a lot somewhere else? I hope the ghost of La Ronda haunts them. Houses do have souls you know.

house things said...

I've been throwing Architectural Digest into the recycling bin without opening it. Maybe I should stop that.

sandrajonas.com said...

I cannot believe it is already a year since the destruction. What a shame!

Francine Gardner said...

It just baffles me that in this country with such a short history, money is always the winner...the destruction of La Ronda is w wrenching example.

Laura Casey Interiors said...

It really is devastating that La Ronda is no more. So glad you're keeping its memory alive.