A preservation battle is brewing in Orange County and stirring up national interest. The subject is the Orange County Government Center (Bing aerial), hated by some, loved by others. Its Modernist boxy look contrasts with the pre-Revolutionary village of Goshen’s 19th century homes and the harness racing track, sites generally considered more historically acceptable by the population at large. But as unloved as Modernist buildings might be to some people, they are unique and interesting structures and ought not all be dismissed outright.
Built in 1967, the Government Center is nearing the accepted 50-year benchmark to be considered for most historic registries. As buildings of that period approach the 50-year mark, a wave of interest in their preservation has developed just as some of these buildings are being condemned.
Cited for leaky roofs, the building was closed in the fall of 2011 after its basement flooded. The roof problems could be attributed as much if not entirely to deferred maintenance and not to design imperfections. The same problems might well arise in a new building. As for the flooded basement, considered the last straw by the county executive, it almost seems like it was an event that was awaited for in order to manufacture an excuse to leave the building. Just about every building in the Hudson Valley it seems was flooded by Hurricane Irene last year. Not all had to be torn down for flooded basements.
To read more, please visit the following links. My photographs here were taken in October 2009. I did not get any interior photographs then.
Save the Orange County Government Center
World Monuments Fund Watch Site – One of six sites in the United State to make the Full list of sites.
New York Times “Architecture’s Ugly Ducklings May Not Get Time to Be Swans” (April 7, 2012).
Bloomberg News – “Wrecking Ball, $67 Million Bill Hang Over Leaky Landmark.” (James S. Russell, March 19, 2012.)
New York History blog – “Preserving the Recent Past” (Chris Pryslopski, February 25, 2012.)
Architect Paul Rudolph designed the Orange County Government Center. It is not his only endangered building in Orange County. Middletown’s John W. Chorley Elementary School is threatened with demolition as well. The Preservation League of New York added the Chorley School to its Seven to Save list in 2010.
A tree-lined sidewalk in front of the Orange County Government Center. The building has been likened to a manor house in the middle of a large estate. Locating a huge parking lot next to the building has ruined some of its visual effect, as seen in the photographs at top. The parking lot is located directly in front of the west, most interesting facade; perhaps the lot should have been located more to the north (the east end of the building is similar to the west end, but its view is blocked by newer construction).