Athens, Greece Deco Building Saved

ImageIn 2007, the Greek Council of State took up a proposal to demolish a listed Art Deco apartment building a few blocks away from the new Acropolis Museum in Athens Greece. This ultra modern museum was built with the clear intent to hold the Elgin Marbles should they ever be returned to Greece by England.

The curators of the Acropolis Museum claimed that the building and its neighbor blocked the view from the top floor observation deck of the museum of the Acropolis, which sits high above the rest of Athens on an imposing hilltop. In reality, the Deco building, known by its address of 17 Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, sits far below the sightline from the taller museum to the hilltop temple. It was quite clear that the Museum simply did not want to view the less aesthetically pleasing backside of the otherwise very beautiful listed Art Deco apartment building.

The Greek Council of State obviously saw through the argument put forth to de-list the D. Areopagitou building and denied the demolition request last month!

The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles and its compatriots in the International Coalition of Art Deco Societies (ICADS) were asked to write letters of support for the continued preservation of the D. Aeropagitou building. The representative for the owners of D. Aeropagitou informed us that our letters of support were indeed helpful in saving this treasured building.

The text of the letter on behalf of the ADSLA and the response after the victory are reproduced below.

July 20, 2009

Dear Mr Cunningham,
The Greek Council of State has annulled the ministerial decision for declassifying the Athenian Art Deco building of 17 D. Areopagitou str. (The decision was taken in 2007, in order to demolish the listed building, together with it's neighbor no 19, because they partly block the view from the new Acropolis museum).

We now believe that both buildings have been saved and we thank you for your strong support.

Best regards,
Marina Couremenou
(on behalf of the owners)

October 12, 2007

Dear Sirs and Madams:
As the President of the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles and a member of the International Coalition of Art Deco Societies, I am saddened that such a fine example of Greek Art Deco Architecture could be torn down. Especially since the Ministry of Culture deemed the structure at 17 Dionysiou Areopagitou Str. to be of great significance in 1988. To think that people from around the globe would have to tell the Athenian Government that preserving their built environment was important is unbelievable. This is especially unfortunate given that the beautiful Art Deco edifice is not even obstructing the view of the Acropolis. It is my hope that the Museum reconsiders, and realizes that the preservation of history is the primary function of museums.

Most Sincerely,

Rory Cunningham,
President, Art Deco Society of Los Angeles