Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Tuscaloosa Houses on Places in Peril

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Tuscaloosa Houses on Places in Peril

Article excerpt

TUSCALOOSA | The two Tuscaloosa dwellings on this year's Places in Peril list have little in common, other than a tendency to survive.

The Lustron house at 27 Parkview Drive, in a small neighborhood across from Central High School, was one of a series of modest manufactured homes stamped out in assembly-line fashion for affordable post-World War II housing.

By comparison, 1 Wood Manor is a virtual mansion, one of the works of the noted architect Don Buel Schuyler, an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright who also designed the Queen City Pool and Bathhouse, among others.

Lustron homes sought the future in enamel-coated steel panels with built-in appliances and exteriors. In a change from his usually more contemporary designs, Schuyler built 1 Wood Manor in 1947 in Colonial Revival style; it's one of his few residential dwellings. Most of the architect's work around the area was on larger public buildings. Like the Queen City Pool and Bathhouse, 1 Wood Manor was built with reinforced concrete, which might explain why the home stood virtually untouched through last year's devastating tornado, which razed much of the land around it.

Although both stand strong after more than 60 years, the Alabama Historical Commission and Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation placed them among the Places in Peril for 2012 to draw more attention to not only their historic significance, but threats to them other than physical.

"Basically, the Places in Peril (program) is a way to direct public attention to some of these historic places that are threatened either by neglect or demolition, whatever the case may be," said Katherine Mauter, executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society.

In 2007, the program put the Drish House on the list, which has since had stablizing and restoration work done, including the demolishing of a church that had been built on to the original structure.

One Wood Manor is now for sale, and that's both a fine and potentially troubling thing, Mauter said. With the nearly 41/2 acres of now-cleared land in its vicinity on Hargrove Road, and relative proximity to the University of Alabama, the feeling is a developer may stamp out rows of student housing nearby, and might even buy 1 Wood Manor just to tear it down.

"I would love for a buyer to come see this beautiful home and continue to use it as a family residence." Mauter said. Second-best choice would be that an eventual apartment developer would buy it, but keep the structure intact as a clubhouse or office complex.

Schuyler's name alone should be enough to save it, Mauter said, but that hasn't been true of other of his Tuscaloosa structures which have been razed, including the Christian Science Reading Room, flattened by Calvary Baptist Church.

"And the fact reinforced concrete was worked into a residential property makes it very unique," she said. …

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