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6 Historic Buildings That Shouldn’t Be Standing – And The Fascinating Reasons Why They Still Are

Last updated on July 29, 2017

Dakota Murphey looks at 6 iconic buildings that, for one reason or another, shouldn’t still be standing, but are… just.

1. The Colosseum, Rome

The world’s largest amphitheatre was completed in around AD 80 – and the past 1,937 years have taken their toll. A massive earthquake in 1349 caused the outer south side to collapse. And throughout history people have broken off pieces to keep as souvenirs.

So to help rescue this iconic symbol of imperial Rome, the so-called Colosseum Clean Up began in 2011, thanks to a $38m donation from Diego Della Valle of luxury leather goods company TOD’S.

Today, the grime and pollution on its outer surface has been washed away and the cracks have been filled. Now, work can begin on the inside.

2. The Eiffel Tower, Paris

France’s global icon was the world’s tallest structure for 41 years and is still the second tallest in the country (after the Millau Viaduct).

It was originally designed as a centrepiece for the 1889 Paris Exposition and the structure only had a permit to stand for 20 years. So if there’s an odd one out in this list, it’s the Eiffel Tower.

Why? Because it didn’t nearly fall down; it was nearly taken down in 1909. It only survived because it proved useful for conducting wireless experiments.

Eiffel Tower, Paris, FranceToday, the Eiffel Tower still beams radio and TV signals and is the world’s most visited paid monument. Now, the authorities have announced a £262m renovation, which will take place over the next 15 years.

The tower is completely repainted every seven years, a job that takes 20 months and requires 60 tonnes of grey paint.

3. St Pancras Renaissance, London

This London hotel was formally re-opened on 5th May, 2011, 138 years after its original opening in 1873. Back then it was called the Midland Grand, after the Midland Railway Company, who commissioned its design from George Gilbert Scott.

St Pancras Renaissance, LondonWhen British Rail took it over they wanted to demolish it but were thwarted by Jane Hughes Fawcett and her colleagues at the Victorian Society – and in 1967 the hotel and station received Grade I listed status.

Officials dubbed her ‘the furious Mrs Fawcett’ for her unceasing efforts.

4. The In and Out Club, London

94 Piccadilly in London, opposite Green Park, is the former site of the Naval and Military Club, a private members club for officers and gentlemen of the British Armed Forces. It became known as the In and Out Club because of the prominent signs on the separate vehicle entry and exit gates.

The In and Out Club, LondonWhen the 18th century mansion’s lease ran out in the late ‘90s, it was abandoned. Perhaps the billionaire Reuben brothers have pockets deep enough to restore the building to its former glory.

They paid £130m for it in 2011 and hired building pathologists to inspect and maintain the magnificent Palladium-fronted property.

5. De La Warr Pavilion, East Sussex 

Bexhill-on-Sea’s modernist pavilion in East Sussex opened in 1935, the result of an architectural competition held by Herbrand Sackville, 9th Earl De La Warr.

He persuaded the local council to develop a public building on the seafront and it held concerts and events for a short time until war broke out in 1935.

De La Warr Pavilion, East Sussex Highly visible, it was bombed by the Germans and it wasn’t until 2002, after a long application process, that it was granted £6m by the Heritage Lottery Fund & The Arts Council.

In 2005, after extensive restoration, it reopened as a contemporary arts centre.   

6. Houses of Parliament, London

As home to both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the Palace of Westminster is the heart of British politics. But since its construction in the mid-1800s, many features have never undergone major renovation.

As a result, its heating, ventilation, water, drainage and electrical systems all need improving. Roofs are leaking, pollution is causing damage to the brickwork and asbestos is present throughout.

Houses of Parliament, LondonTo help prevent ‘catastrophic failure’, a 2012 report began to look at renovation options and many architectural conservation experts were consulted in an effort to preserve the historic structures.

A massive restoration project began in 2016 and MPs recently voted to vacate the building for six years, to help keep the cost of the work to a mere £6bn.

The Houses of Parliament haven’t been saved yet – but you can bet they will be. 

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