Demolition of the Chacona Block

Waste(d) Imagination Tour

Demolition of the Chacona Block

Ithaca, New York 14850, United States

Created By: Just Places Lab


411-415 College Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850

Across the street from Collegetown Bagels is the (demolished) Chacona Block - a site where controversy ensued over the demolition of this proposed historic landmark. Ithaca Beer Co. stands in its place. Greek immigrant John N. Chacona built the Chacona Block (now demolished). According to historian Patricia Longoria: "The Chacona Block building is evidence of the energy and enterprise of both Chacona and Wilgus. It is a tangible representation of Ithaca’s history, in a sense a type of historical document that people can 'read and appreciate, just like old newspaper accounts, deed records, diaries, and other sources. Although the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission recommended that the building be designated a local historic landmark, the recommendation was overruled, and the building was demolished. The photographs show the destruction of the building. A lonely fridge looks out from an upper-story window.

Before the Chacona Block was demolished destruction, some materials were salvaged by Significant Elements — an architectural salvage operation run by Historic Ithaca. In one of the photos, you can see chestnut wainscotting being removed for reuse and resale. In another photo, you can see salvaged historic lion heads and Greek cross medallions, reflecting the history of the site in the new building design. Some doors were also saved. Salvage is an important step that can save some architectural elements that can be used to maintain the character of other preserved buildings. Salvage does not result in as much reused material as the complete deconstruction of a whole building, as will be discussed in other examples on this tour.

As Ithaca has changed over the years, so too have the buildings. When buildings in Ithaca are removed, they are typically mechanically demolished. Large machines push, pull, and crush buildings until only a pile of debris and rubble remains. Usually, these materials are then sent to landfill, where they are buried with other undesired materials. In addition to waste, mechanical demolition produces large amounts of toxic dust that can travel up to 400 feet and shower nearby areas. The included maps show the location of each whole building demolition since 2010. Each red dot represents one whole building demolition. If you live within 400 feet of one of these dots, it is likely toxic demolition dust reached your home.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Waste(d) Imagination Tour


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