Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Port Huron Rendezvous

A few months ago I had a sleigh to get to Canada for a client. We thought Port Huron, Michigan would be a good meeting point and he could take it across the border. I had never been to PHMI so I thought it would be a fun little trip. I came away feeling pretty good about the Port and the view of Sarnia across the St. Clair River.

I’m kind of a sap for cruising around whenever I enter a town I’ve never been. So was the case with Port Huron and of course I headed straight downtown. I can always find something of interest in an old downtown. Doesn’t matter big or small, thriving or diving there is always something interesting in the old business districts. I always find myself driving around blocks in every little podunk town I travel through.

OK, maybe not going to win any awards with this project but I really liked the way this particular building was treated. I would give it some kind of award. Frugal and trendy all at the same time.

If you look closely at the top photo you can see numerous bricked up windows and doors. The contemporary windows were obviously placed at some point for the layout of the interior of the building. I love the original signage still intact. So often the first train of thought is to unblock the windows and bring everything back to original. Pretty cool the way that they left the industrial simplicity of the bad renovations in place and added the new entrance in grandiose fashion. The other obvious new addition is the French doors at the second floor loading dock. Great project and I would have really liked a look at the inside.

This property was right behind the first and looking at details I’m guessing is by the same owner. Here we have a much more traditional and symmetrical facade. Once again a really beautifully completed restoration. A great contrast of colors, finishes and the greenery is the finishing touch.

I find this entrance to be so inviting. Duffy Studios. I have no idea what that is but they really know how to make a business present itself. One of those nice little old commercial buildings that I wished I could just pick up and take home with me.

What a classic Art Deco façade. Looks to me like a much earlier building that was converted more than likely in the 30’s. This building is a great project and I hope someone latches onto it soon. It could be so much fun to bring it back to life to be a centerpiece in what was the middle of downtown. I could have a blast with this one.

Oh and lookie here. Planters, trees and benches in nice little groupings. They had a nice little streetscape plan that was in keeping with a city of it’s size. Obviously this was all pretty new so the downtown must have been recently ripped apart. I liked the scale of the larger gardens rather than smaller planters. All trimmed out in pavers and such it was a pretty attractive pedestrian way.

We concluded the trip with breakfast at an outstanding coffee shop/café across the street. Take an historic building, strip out the crap, pick out classic striking colors, crisp contemporary furniture, colorful artwork for the walls, slam out some one of a kind food and you'll have a winner. I’ll go back to Port Huron just for breakfast.

Have a great Wednesday!



Anonymous said...

Hey Todd.

Cool buildings, although I gotta say the "ice house lofts" second floor windows look haphazard on the front. I can understand the need/desire to leave the bricked over windows "as is" to get the loft effect, but the windows lack any relationship to the first floor. So I wonder what the developer was faced with in the inside that led to the decision on the windows.
- Paulie

Toddersville said...

Hi Paulie,

Yeah I know but there is something about that part that I like. The building has been so screwed up over the years that it's too far gone to fix so run with it...

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