Preservation News


The feasibility study, conducted by the international design firm Stantec, explored several alternatives for the main building: residential use, academic use, such as a charter school, or office space. “The most feasible use is commercial office space,” Steinke said. The building “lays out well for that purpose, and that’s what it will probably end up being.”

The ultimate plan will include an interpretive component that explains the story of the Lazaretto, said Steinke, who is general manager of the Reading Terminal Market. “But we determined it is not feasible to use the entire building for that use. There are too many struggling museums” in the region, he said, and “the lessons are clear to everyone. It needs to have some income-producing component to keep it going.”

Larry Tise, a Philadelphia historian and the Wilbur and Orville Wright Distinguished Professor of History at East Carolina University, doesn’t agree with the study findings.  “I don’t think office is the best use. It should be a very active use site; it should be available for public activities” and include a large museum component, said Tise.

“I think to consign it to use as an office is to reduce it down to obscurity. We’ve seen too many places converted into office uses, and too frequently that is the end of its public recognition.”