Rhetoric: Re-purposed renewal.
I’m a big fan of “re-purposed” objects. There’s an RV place in Buda, I think, and they have an Air Stream Trailer, painted bright yellow. It’s a mobile first aid clinic used at various outdoor festivals and such. It’s also excellent advertising. But most import, to me, it’s an old trailer that’s been handily reworked. Re-purposed.
In Austin, there’s the archetype trailer, again, an iconic Air Stream, sells shaved ice alongside South Lamar. Re-worked and retro-fitted. Reused.
When I first got into my current career, I was spending a lot of time in Dallas’s Deep Ellum. I was cavorting with artists and their ilk, living in not-yet-trendy loft spaces, which were working studios with bedding tucked up over a bathroom, or partitioned off from the rest of the studio’s space. Old warehouses that had been “re-purposed” as living arrangements, near downtown, and now, trendy as well as upscale.
I have a love of old architecture. The various styles, gothic, southern, southern-gothic, deco, retro, modern, post-modern. The colors and building materials, the styles.
I was sitting in Jupiter’s outdoor section while the building across the street was being repaired and repainted. The owner of Jupiter was discussing the history about the block, then he mentioned another patron, as “That guy knows more about it.” Apparently, this is more myth than fact, the building that was being repaired? Its first floor was, at one time, a saloon and the upstairs? Brothel.
Walking south from Jupiter, there’s the King Williams neighborhood. Historical, Victorian manses, some with quite the history. The neighborhood itself, too, from founding fathers, through some apparent decline, into its current revitalized state. Again, there’s a huge selection of architecture and styles. More than one house has a crenelated tower, evoking a hysterical nod in one direction. Towers, cupolas, wrap-around porches, all speaks to the area’s history.
King William’s, as near as I can tell, back up to the southern part of the fabled Riverwalk. The other side of the Riverwalk is a neighborhood that’s just undergoing its renaissance now. HEB’s world headquarters is located in the nicely refinished army arsenal.
The San Antonio Police Department, a place I only know by reputation – I have never visited in a professional capacity – at first blush, it looked like it was another piece of architecture that deserved to be revitalized. Saved. It’s “modern” piece in that it has the aluminum window frames and that teal – or turquoise – tile on the front entrance? Almost irreplaceable. Well, almost.
Part of what’s important is the style, it was a cheap, blocky kind of design that spoke to the times. As a piece of history, I’m sure it has its place in the books. As a note about the design and tastes of the time? Again, I’m sure that has a place. As an occasional pedestrian, passing through? My first take was wonder and amazement, such a cool period piece, stuck on the backside of downtown. I took a couple of pictures and as I manipulated them on the computer, I began to see what I didn’t see up close.
That was a cool building, maybe 40 years ago. There’s got to be a whole design essay as well historical references, all about the entrance, and what the color represented, the blocks, the shape and so forth. But now? Up close and digital? The place doesn’t look so good. Literally, across the street, almost across the street from the entrance, there’s Casa Navarro. State historical site. Important Tejano (Latin/Mexican/Hispanic) cultural lore. That’s an interesting juxtaposition.