PaperCity Magazine

September 2018- Houston

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Page 103 of 151

100 F earless. No other adjective could possibly describe this venture, which would make most preservationists quake. The Watres Armory, a National Register property, was a white elephant of a building that dates back nearly 120 years. The hulking military relic is sited in the former coal and iron capital of Scranton in northeastern Pennsylvania, two hours from Philadelphia and two and half hours from New York. The reviving rust-belt city of nearly 80,000 was once a mecca for railroads and robber barons; it's best known today as the childhood home of former Vice President Joseph Biden. Onto this unlikely stage stepped Hunt Slonem — the nationally and internationally exhibited artist of avians, bunnies, and historical and society portraits, whose art resides in the collections of the Metropolitan, Guggenheim, and Whitney. Interwoven with his career as a neo-expressionist painter is his work as a preservationist, collector, and rescuer of historic properties. In addition to two massive lofts (one for living, one for work) in New York, the Watres Armory is just one of seven historic homes and buildings the artist lovingly maintains. There's also a trifecta of Louisiana plantations, the Hudson River Valley Second Empire-style Cordt's Mansion, a fox-hunting estate in the Catskills once frequented by Eleanor Roosevelt, and now this gilded-age remnant, as well as Scranton's Beaux Arts masterpiece, the Woolworth Mansion. The purchase of the Watres Armory, KEEPER OF THE CASTLE B Y C AT H E R I N E D . A N S P O N . P H O T O G R A P H Y C H R I S B O LT O N A N D M A R C O R I C C A . ARTIST HUNT SLONEM'S MOST EPIC PRESERVATION PROJECT YET INVOLVES A BLOCK- WIDE BEHEMOTH OF A BUILDING, BUILT AT THE TURN OF THE LAST CENTURY, AND MORE THAN 500 TRUCKLOADS OF POSSESSIONS. AND THAT DOESN'T INCLUDE PAINTINGS. INSIDE THE ARTIST'S 102,000-SQUARE-FOOT CRENELATED CASTLE-LIKE ARMORY IN SCRANTON, PENNSYLVANIA — WHICH HAS NOT ONE, BUT TWO TURRETS — LIES A FASCINATING HISTORY The armory's basement swimming pool may be destined to become a koi pond. © CHRIS BOLTON (continued on page 102)

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