May 20, 2010

Historic building in Lincoln Nebraska has date with bulldozer

This iconic structure in on the current list of the 11 most endangered historic places in the United States.

The sloping roof hides the buildings four-story height when viewed up close at ground level as shown below.

This dramatic trapezoidal exposition space with natural skylights, intricate roof trusses and a four-story fountained interior has showcased the best of Lincoln, Neb. for over a century.

If a developer does not step forward soon with a plan for rescue and/or re-use of the structure, the building will be destroyed.

In 1919 the Lincoln Standard Aircraft Company bought the entire stock of World War I surplus Standard airplanes as well as surplus 150 hp Hispano-Suiza engines and assembled nearly 200 airplanes in the building as shown in the photo below.

It was one of these airplanes that Charles Lindbergh learned to fly in Lincoln. His flight instructor, I.O. Biffle, assisted in the assembly of the airplanes. Biffle and Lindbergh were also two of the first pilots to transport airmail cross-country.

Some years later, the famous Cushman Motor Scooter was also manufactured in the building. By 1948, a new Ag Hall was constructed and the old building became the Industrial Arts Building and was used to display industrial and technological products developed in the state.

More recent displays included quilts and a model railroad, before the building was closed to the public in 2004 due to disrepair.

The Nebraska State Historical Society has determined that the Industrial Arts Building is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. However, this historic structure will have a date with a bulldozer if a suitable developer is not found by July 1, 2010.

The building is located just north of downtown Lincoln in State Fair Park, home of the Nebraska State Fair since 1901.