Historic Preservation / Structural Engineering / Architectural Design
Point Richmond, California
Banking/Financial | Landmarks
Thomas K. Butt
The Santa Fe Reading Room, built circa 1900, is the only remaining structure from the early days of the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad yards in Richmond. Santa Fe Railroad once built and maintained “reading rooms” for employees in every major town along their routes to serve as community centers and to provide a diversion to compete with the local bars.
Tom Butt, FAIA, President of Interactive Resources, worked in his capacity as a Richmond City Council member and historic architect to save the structure from demolition for almost 15 years. That goal was finally achieved in 2005 when the structure was moved to a location in the Point Richmond Historic District, where it become part of a Gateway Park and is now occupied by Mechanics Bank.
Interactive Resources contributed architecture and engineering services for the relocation, redevelopment and preservation of this historically significant building. Our work included preparing construction drawings for everything from the new foundation to details for the restoration of the historic windows and wood trim. We also designed the entry sign that now serves as the gateway to historic Point Richmond.
“Tom Butt is a preservation architect, president of Interactive Resources and a member of the Richmond City Council. The Santa Fe Trainmaster Building/Reading Room is the only surviving structure from a sprawling railroad yard built by the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe in Richmond around 1900. In his capacity as a city council member, Tom Butt staved off demolition of the Trainmaster/Reading Room Building for over a decade and conceived the idea of using complex land swaps involving both public and private land and funds, to move it to a site outside but proximate to the yards. As president, Tom Butt provided pro bono, through Interactive Resources all the professional services required to move the building to its new location, including having it designated as a historic structure, providing architectural and structural engineering design and obtaining all approvals, including design and historic preservation review for its rehabilitation. A combination for-profit and non-profit organization was formed to take it to the next level in another complex land arrangement. Ultimately, Mechanics Bank, previously located nearby, emerged as a prospective tenant and paid for the final improvements required for occupancy. Within a month after Mechanics bank occupied the building, their business volume tripled. Rent from Mechanics Bank is now distributed annually via the non-profit organization to other local non-profits for civic improvements. Tom Butt’s combination of vision, technical skills and political skills made this project possible.” More details on our project are available at: http://www.pointrichmond.com/gateway/index.htm.
—Jeff Lee: Gateway Foundation & City of Richmond Oversight Board to the Successor Agency of the Richmond Redevelopment Agency