Today, the towering Barrington Place Apartments sit on the northeast corner of Third and Guthrie Streets, but long ago the site was occupied by the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church (aka Trinity Temple Methodist Church). The old photo was taken in 1940 for the Historic American Building Survey.
After the church was demolished (anyone know when?), a 17-story tower originally named Trinity Towers was built in 1962 by the church and included apartments and a chapel. By 2002, only 45 of the building’s 218 units were leased when Kohner, a St. Louis company, purchased the building for $1.3 million and renovated the interiors, renaming it Barrington Place.
The tower was an experimental mixed-use project in the 1960s and unique in combining a church with over 200 residential units. Despite its generally ugly appearance, it’s at least heartening that the church wasn’t replaced with another surface level parking lot and instead contains over 200 apartments.
In fact, the property contains no parking, a fact attributed with lower occupancy, but great for the car-free urbanite. As a measure that Downtown is improving, back in 2002, even 4th Street Live hadn’t opened and Kohner officials were “shocked at how dead it gets” Downtown without any nightlife.
So what do you think? Better, worse, a tolerable replacement?
There are many experts here, so maybe someone knows: what kinds of buildings get saved, get re-purposed the most: small retail, large retail, churches, open venues (auditoriums, theaters, etc.) big boxes…?
One thing that doesn’t seem to matter is the value of the space as space – its ornament, furnishing, windows, and its external flourishes.
Is it use, architectural beauty, or history that matters most? Here we have a lovely church v. an uninspired apartment. The church was, I bet, under-attended. The apartment brings population density downtown. The church had history and therefore made a space a place. The apartment is, so far, anti-place in its dreariness and lack of engagement with its surroundings.
A city needs a constant public airing of these questions. A city that gets smart in its planning, that gets to be known as a place that worries about such matters, a place where the widest possible range of folk care, is one where people will want to live.
Architecturally – the Church wins in a landslide. Urbanistically, it’s a tie, although just seeing what was lost makes me sad to think how something like the original church could just be erased and this building considered an acceptable substitute.
On a side note, one of my first bosses told me about how he and his wife were coming out of the Y several years ago and watched a woman jump to her death from the roof of this building. So on a humanistic level – I’ll have to give that one to the church as well
i don’t think it’s a function of what ‘kind’ of building, ken. there are many factors which feed what gets saved vs what doesn’t: value of the real estate, suitability for adaptation, public sentiment for/against the existing building, people paying attention (or not), intensity of need for proposed alternative construction,… during urban renewal it was simply an issue of where a building was located, what populations occupied the area, and the area’s economic vitality.
there is a good book that explores what cultural properties we value and keep vs what we forget/neglect, and why. it’s called ‘cultural selection’ by gary taylor, a shakespeare scholar. i used it in developing my master’s thesis in urban design, even though it’s not an architecture/urbanism book.
Perfect! Thanks for that: it sounds like the kind of book I need (my English teacher past is pleased!)
I say “tolerable replacement”, but what I really want to say is that, in looking at old photos of buildings razed over the years, I’m astonished at what we tore down. It sure begs a question of what Louisville would look like today if we’d saved some of these buildings.
I don’t mean to hog the blog, but when I look at pictures of the Columbia Bank bldg that stood at 4th & Main, the old C-J @ 4th & Liberty (a lot of people called it the “Will Sales Bldg”), the M&M bldg at the old fairgrounds on Cecil Avenue (still standing with its’ glazed brick exterior painted over), the Nat’l Theater at 5th & Walnut, the old Baptist Seminary, the old U.S. Customs House & P.O. (and on and on) I wonder “what were they thinking?” Of course everything requires money. But, look at the Henry Clay, the PRP Bldg on 4th Street, the Seelbach, the Brown, the old YWCA and what can be done when a structure is saved.
i’ve heard it said before that the only reason louisville has what we still DO have is that the we were so broke when other cities were ripping their historic districts down. we just couldn’t afford to tear down west main street, for instance.
we’re looking at things with different perspective, of course. there was a time when everyone wanted to be modern because to be modern was to be optimistic and orderly – none of the messy dirt-collecting distracting ornament.
wish we could find a happy middle ground: in the 21stC we should be building 21stC buildings, but we should protect our historic legacy, too. unfortunately it seems the pendulum has swung too far the other way and most folks want to make new buildings that look like the old ones – an inclination that confuses, and which undermines the integrity of the old and the relevance of the new.
I agree. It’s an interesting tension – the urge to be archivists and the urge to invent. Save and create – and copy, yes. I’m still wrestling with the question of how we decide, and what we should decide about saving, re-imagining, and replacing.
Funny thing… I wanted the book you recommended and immediately called Carmichael’s. They told me it was out of print and might as well, alas, go to Amazon. I did. I found a used one from a bookseller in … Louisville! Buy Local First after all!
Just got it today. Look forward to reading it.
Concerning your inquiry as to when the old Trinity Temple Methodist Church was torn down to make way for the new. The name was actually changed to Trinity United Methodist Church as the word Temple was elliminated in 1962. Demolition of the old began immediately after the Christmass service of 1959. The original three manual pipe organ was removed and stored at the Whittenburg warehouse on Floyd Street which was destroyed by fire in 1967. Many of the priceless stained glass windows were reinstalled in the new facility. The names of the actual owners/builders of which were emblazended and displayed on a bronz plaque in the main lobby of the new facility has since been removed and on display elsewhere. The original owners of the Trinity Towers facility were taken entirely by surprise and shock in 1996 when subjects from the Methodist Headquarters suddenly entered the sanctuary durring sunday morning services asserting control. However, two chain of events occurring one in the first half the sixties involving the original civil action against the primary buildings’ contractor (facilities boilers) ultimately in favor of Trinity Towers and the other in the mid sixties involving an unsuccessful apparent takeover manuver by the methodist conference headquartes appears to have effectively rendered to the original owners entire ownership and controll. Corporate documents and FHA records tend to support this contention. It is generally agreed upon to this day that the original action post 1996 may legally flawed and present ownership may be in question.