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Firm restores New Rochelle's old Main Street facades.

Several 19th Century buildings on New Rochelle's Main Street, all long-obscured by 20th Century metal and stucco facade cladding, have been restored this year to their original grandeur through designs by the architectural firm, Susan Doban Architect, PC.

The New Rochelle Business Improvement District (BID) provided matching grants to restore five facades as part of the Model Development Block project in the New York City suburban community in Westchester County. The Curtain Shop's new facade was unveiled on June 27, 2006, at a ceremony featuring local elected officials and business leaders..

"Designing the facade for the Curtain Shop and General Store was particularly rewarding because the earlier probes indicated that there might be a gem of a facade hidden behind the cracked stucco covering that unfortunately had concealed, yet, ironically enough, protected, the building's true beauty for many years," said Susan Doban, president of Susan Doban Architect, P.C. "This turned out to be just the case. The building is now one of the beautiful turn-of-the century stone and terracotta jewels along Main Street that is being polished to complement a string of new development."

For the commercial office building which was once the New Rochelle Trust Company at 542 Main Street, the architects designed the restoration of the brownstone, brick and granite facade. Their analysis of historical photographs revealed that a large ornamental canopy which had been placed there earlier in the century was not original to the building, and they proposed to eliminate it so that the beautiful, ornate brownstone work could be more fully visible. The building was once home to a glass company, and the ornamental stained glass window above the building's entrance will also be protected by the renovation.

"As a Brooklyn-based firm, we are accustomed to seeing brownstone used in residential construction, but this it is highly unusual to see it in such a grand commercial structure," Doban said. "We are proud to participate in its restoration."

Diamond Glass, at 555 Main Street, which features a showroom and shop on the first floor, presented a different set of design challenges because the building had been covered with metal panels that concealed years of prior facade renovation that had eliminated the original historic detail. As a result, the architects used modern materials to emulate the proportions of the original facade. New window openings were also provided to complement the owner's interior conversion of the second floor vacant space into rental loft units.

The architects have also designed the restoration of the Talner Jewelers building at 565 Main Street, completing the design of the model block. Construction on the building is expected to begin this summer.

All of the designs required New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) approval.

"The challenge was to preserve the historic character using materials, forms, and proportions that would appear convincingly historical, while making use of readily available, economical materials; but also to create designs that would enhance the character of upper Main Street as a modern, vibrant, shopping street," Ms. Doban said. "It's incredibly exciting to see the richness of the past preserved alongside projects that are very much of the present."
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jul 5, 2006
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