Our nation’s insatiable appetite for keeping up with fashion and embracing the next new trend has long taken an extensive toll on the integrity of its historic buildings. The 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s were witness to countless building facade makeovers for the sake of modernization. The least harmful of these “updates” were superficial and cosmetic metal screens which could later be removed; other updates were far less forgiving and more permanent in nature. One of the more popular methods of “updating” a building facade at that time was to bury it in a coat of stucco.
Requiring that metal lath be nailed to the masonry, the stucco application process often did permanent damage to the brick or stone beneath. Additionally, it was common for projecting elements to be whittled down or entirely removed in order to simplify the lines of a structure – while simultaneously paving the way for an easier application of the stucco. The brick structure seen here, a Masonic temple building, received such a transformation some time in the middle of the last century. The original facade was happily eclectic while the “new” facade sought to erase historic references.
The transformational “facelift” took place decades ago, and today itself looks tired and dated. Had the money spent then to modernize the building been used to instead maintain or restore the facade, the building would no doubt be a greater source of pride today. Take a look at the image below from the early 20th century and then scroll down to see what the same building looks like today: