State Fair Building Preservation

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We’ll show you efforts to save historic buildings at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, one of which just had a deadline for its destruction.

TED SIMONS: A deadline to raise funds to preserve the 1938 WPA administration building at the Arizona state fairgrounds has come and gone but the building still stands. Efforts to keep it at the fairgrounds continue. Videographer Langston Fields and producer Cassie Anfinson take a look at efforts to save the building.

LAUREN ALLSOPP: The Civic W.P.A. administration building. This is our key concern, saving this particular building, because it's got sort of a bulldozer on its head. Last August we discovered a bulldozer outside it and so concerned citizens, preservationists gathered round to see what we could do to save it. It needs 100% restoration. The stucco is pulling away from the adobe walls. The windows need care and attention. It's also for example the plumbing and electrical are original. So it's time to upgrade. They look at what's revenue and what's stagnant and not bringing in revenue. They know that they can get revenue from parking. So sadly, if this building was to come down it would be for parking. All of the buildings need maintenance. If you look around the fairgrounds, all of the buildings are structurally sound. They have incredibly good bones. But they look tired. We're talking quite a bit of money. And the fairground doesn't have it. If we can get that maintenance program established then all the buildings are a part of that. What we would like to do is create a fund that builds on itself so in addition to looking at one building, a group of buildings, we're also looking at the future of the fairgrounds. To do that we need measure drawings. What we want to do is have quality measured drawings for these buildings, to do it the traditional way it would take you months because of the size of the building, so today we have a technology called laser scanning. Laser scanning comes in and it will basically shoot lasers in a rapid fire succession to record every point of a building. We can do that in about a week, maybe, but as far as the laser scanning for here and the importance of it here on the fairgrounds it gives us those measured drawings so at any time any restoration is done, we can look at those drawings and we know that building intimately. The building is significantly important then the drawings can go to the library of Congress and be stored there. This building behind me, the civic building, has got an August 1 sort of deadline. And we don't have all the money we need. Our biggest problem has been getting the word out. I think that if we talk about right here and now and who would be most interested in these fairgrounds, you're going to get outsiders but it's going to be the people that live in this state. If every family and business in the state of Arizona gave $1, we would be able to do it all.

TED SIMONS: Those working to save the building will present their plan for the site to state fair officials tomorrow.

VIDEO: We want to hear from you. Submit your questions, comments and concerns via email at azpbs.org.

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