Track 1: Decline vs. Revival: Tempering the Impulse to Tear Down and Start Over

General Abstract

Last Call at the Cascade Saloon: Stabilizing & Preserving Greensboro’s Iconic Masonry Heritage

Wednesday, September 26
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: HYATT-Grand B

Constructed in 1895 as a saloon and general store, the Cascade Saloon was home to one of the very rare African American owned businesses in downtown Greensboro during the Jim Crow Era. The masonry building has served the community in many capacities over the years as an eatery, a roller skating rink and a printing press, to name just a few. By the 1980s, the building had been all but abandoned; over the next three decades, the Saloon fell into a state of disrepair.

Since its inception, the saloon’s challenging downtown site, nestled between four major rail lines in downtown Greensboro, has made it a building at a crossroads. This was especially the case in 2014 when the early beginnings of a private-public partnership plan to save the saloon started to develop. Given its location, it was easy to see how previous attempts to save the saloon seemed too daunting and difficult to achieve. In addition to the difficult logistics, the condition of the building itself (near collapse, with many citizens and “professionals” stating the building should be razed) made it seem that the building was destined for demolition.

However, the community recognized the importance and significance in saving the building. Preserving the history of the saloon while melding the vision of the city’s revitalization efforts gave our team a renewed sense of purpose. The building has served as a linchpin in the burgeoning development efforts to the north and south on busy Elm Street. Demolition of the building would surely result in a huge gap in the downtown landscape, as further development would be logistically impossible.

The team found that most of the building’s existing wood structure was collapsing onto itself. Despite this, the vision for what could be became a rallying cry for innovation in design and collaboration. Moving expeditiously to partner with experienced design professionals, the local municipality, the railroad, and key trade contractors, the race was on to save the saloon.

In 2017, with Amtrak and rail traffic racing by just a few feet away, the team undertook the massive effort of masonry restoration and building stabilization. The team stabilized the building and restored the remaining historic fabric all while a bustling downtown scene took on a life of its own around the building. The completed Cascade Saloon is now a Class A office space and a landmark of the Greensboro community.

Learning Objectives:

April L. Larkins, LEED AP

Senior Project Manager
The Christman Company

April Larkins is a Senior Project Manager with The Christman Company. She began her career in construction in Michigan, working first for the utility completing facilities renovations, and eventually moving to the private sector overseeing commercial projects in a variety of market sectors. April joined the Greensboro, North Carolina office in 2015 and last year took on the task of leading the Cascade Saloon Redevelopment project. She has always had an interest in architecture and history, and with over 15 years of experience in commercial construction she has found her true passion in historic preservation.


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Ronald D. Staley, FAPT, Hon AIA-MI

Senior Vice President / Director of Historic Preservation
The Christman Company

Ron is a Senior Vice President with The Christman Company, a general contractor and construction manager, and leads the company’s Southeast Michigan Operations as well as serves as National Director of Historic Preservation with over 35 years construction experience. In 1992, Ron founded Christman’s historic preservation group . He's directed multiple highly visible, often public preservation projects to national and statewide awards for teamwork and unique delivery methods. Ron is a Honorary AIA Michigan and member of the College of Fellows of APT. Ron is also a two term governor appointee to the Michigan State Historic Preservation Review Board .


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Last Call at the Cascade Saloon: Stabilizing & Preserving Greensboro’s Iconic Masonry Heritage

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