Sunday, March 01, 2009

Dallas architect observes long overdue repairs at the Barnwell and asks, "What is the fate of the Barnwell Center?"

Barnwell Center rendering
Originally uploaded by trudeau
The Shreveport Times fielded this letter from John Kersey of Carrollton, Texas:

Is the R. S. Barnwell Memorial Garden slated for demolition so that a new casino can occupy that location?

I am an architect in Dallas who comes to your city once in a while to gamble on horses and now casinos. I was in town recently, and my wife wanted to take in some culture and suggested going to the Barnwell.

Well, we got there late — 4:30 p.m. when they were closing — and only got to walk once quickly through. The art was nice. She collects pottery, but the shop was closed. The outside gardens were closing, so we walked through the conservatory. What a nice room in such run-down condition: broken windows, dead plants, uneven floors, peeling paint, trim work falling off.

As I said it was closing time and we had to leave, so the only thing I asked at the front was how long had the dome been broken, and she said two years. I wanted to take a second look and maybe a photo or two, but we had to go.

I tell you I have done many building inspections, and this is what it looks like when a building has been abandoned and slated for demolition.

Please tell me, is this the fate of the Barnwell?

Ed.: Some 3 years have passed since the above rendering of changes slated for the Barnwell.


Anonymous said...

Three years since the Barnwell changes were floated.

And three weeks since persons here sorta acted like they'd post reviews of each other's work.

Maybe these things happen in threes...

Robert E Trudeau said...

Better that You should say this than I, anon. Thanks for the reminder.

Btw, since that chat I reviewed the Julia Edwards play Family Planning as presented at LSUS Black Box Theater.

Next I plan to review the Thai/Vietnamese textile display at Meadows.

Anonymous said...

Robert, I meant to comment on the fact that you're doing reviews.

Where is the thread in which said persons promised to review each other's work?

What's the response to Mr. Kersey's question? What's the fate of the Barnwell?

. said...

I am glad to say that regardless of where the proposed renovations stand, the programming at the Barnwell is much improved over the last 3 years. They regularly publish information regarding events, etc. I feel Freda Powell is doing a great job elevating the level community involvement for the Barnwell. The repairs mentioned are necessary and urgent - I hope they are addressing that.
I have not seen any details regarding the proposed renovation - but I feel 2 things are vital for the proper function of this facility:
1. way-finding: the parking is weird. the front door is visible, but sensing where to park and the route to take is difficult and uncomfortable for the 1st time visitor.
2. humidity.
Get the people in - keep them comfortable while they see the cool stuff.

Anonymous said...

I sincerely hope the Barnwell isn't just a throwback, a memoir of Shreveport in generations past, which will only become a money pit in the same way as the new Convention Center/Hotel downtown.

Anonymous said...

The Barnwell is alive and well just needs the refurbishing any
building must have after years
of cherished use. Ms.Powell has
done a great job despite many restrictions--money,understaffed,etc. This is the way of life for many community
assets across our country.
The quality of art shows and programs has been terrific. The recent show of art and culture from India was FIRST CLASS--something
I would have seen in Chicago or New York. We need to keep fighting for all the gifts we have in our community and the Barnwell is priceless. Missy Jordan

Robert E Trudeau said...

I agree that Freda Powell has done a terrific job at the Barnwell. Among her achievements are the Jazz on the Red series and a plethora of classes in drawing, painting and crafts. She even invited me to be part of the current group show, which was an honor.

I printed this letter because I believe that seeing ourselves through the eyes of an outsider offers us rare and needed overview. The facility - an important one - is in the spotlight, not the programs.

Anonymous said...

I hear the deal on the casino taking over the Barnwell site is pretty dead. It was made orginally with Hollywood (sic transit gloria), and if Eldorado still holds the option, they'll have to spend some unrecoverable $$$ to get what I think is a few more hotel rooms.

The Barnwell is the best kept secret in downtown, but if they don't sink six figures of substantal repairs into it soon, they may have to shutter the place cause of code violations.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be fun to renovate the center. The problem with this design is that I see a lot of McSwain and Joyce in this design. IMHO, I would like to see a more corporate glass chic in Shreveport.