Monday, October 27, 2008

Creating Bright Center: Keeping the Past

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of a real Place is its connection to the unique history of the area. As we modernized Bright Center, we went out of our way to keep and showcase as much of the building's past as we could salvage. Much of the building's origins had been stripped away over the years, but we found some jewels.

An old escalator, the first and only escalator in Winchester. It had been hidden by wallboard and turned into a trash collection site over the years, but it was so striking and retro that we converted it into a carpeted stairway (safety laws wouldn't allow us to operate it again). People come by the building all the time who tell us stories of how they use to play on the escalator as kids and how those memories are some of their best from childhood.

A gorgeous old tin ceiling under the hideous drop ceiling. It was in rough shape, but after we repaired it and painted it gold, it was a sight to behold. It's now one of the most distinctive features of Bright Center.

A "time capsule" behind one cement wall where we discovered all kinds of old mementos from Winchester in the 50s -- posters, bottle caps, advertisements, magazines. None of it of much value, but a great delight to the construction crew, most of whom were born and raised in Winchester. We created our own time capsule where we put all those old mementos, to preserve them, as well as a variety of our own, including the architectural plans, hand- written notes from the construction crew, and before and after pictures of the building.

I joked with the crew that the next time the time capsule was discovered, we all might be 90 years old or maybe even dead, but we all delighted in the fact that someone, who might not even be born yet, would discover our stash and have as much fun in their discovery a we had in ours.

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