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Hartway meets challenge of modern look in historic district

Posted 20 February 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Chris Busch – Hartway Motors in Medina is getting a new metallic façade panel that will say “Chevrolet” in blue. The dealership, which is located in a historic district, is making the changes as part of a national push by Chevy dealerships.

Press release, Medina Historic and Architectural Review Board

The Hartway building is the state and national registries of historic places. The building also is listed on the National Register for its own merits.

Historic preservation can sometimes be at odds with national corporate branding, said Medina Planning Board Chairman Chris Busch. He also leads the village’s Historic and Architectural Review Board. That board found some wiggle room with the Hartway project.

The building features a post-war architectural style known as Streamline Moderne.Its lack of decoration or ornamentation, flat roof, white walls, glass block, and curved, aerodynamic forms are the chief identifying features of the building, Busch said.

In examining the proposed plan more closely within that context, the Review Board found that none of those features change, are destroyed, or were going to be irreversibly altered, he said.

“You might be tempted to lump this structure with the proposed changes into the pile with all the other newer suburban Chevrolet dealerships,” Busch said. “However, upon closer inspection, you will see that the Hartway structure is indeed different in that it does maintain the essential design characteristics of the original Streamline Moderne.”

The Medina business also is “nowhere near the scale of the typical suburban dealership structures,” Busch said. “It remains a pedestrian scale structure that make it compatible with the surrounding pedestrian scale buildings/neighborhood, with many of its design elements that define its historical importance in tact.”

In summing up its findings, the Review Board found that the architectural style of Streamline Moderne embraced the use of modern materials, and the use of them in the proposed changes was in keeping with not only the style but with the spirit of the style – an intent to celebrate clean, modern, aerodynamic lines through the use of modern materials.

The project received a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Review Board.

Busch said it is a good example of the board working to maintain a credible preservation district while balancing the practical needs of local business.

“The Hartway project is a great project, and we’re very excited to see this compatible upgrade on a business that is key to both Medina’s Main Street and its Historic District,” Busch said.