Track 1: Decline vs. Revival: Tempering the Impulse to Tear Down and Start Over
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.
- Upon completion, participants will be able to understand how the stabilization and innovation in design can give new life to existing structures in difficult logistical locations.
- Upon completion, participants will be able to understand how public, private partnerships can be a part of downtown historic preservation solutions.
- Upon completion, participants will be able to demonstrate how collaboration between designer, construction manager and trade contractors can provide results.
- Upon completion, participants will be able to demonstrate how masonry restoration and building stabilization is achievable through proper planning and execution.