“Unpacking” my own Manuel’s Tavern

IMG_9724Mom had never been to Manuel’s Tavern. Or Man-WELL’s as she insisted on pronouncing it, possibly correctly. For the brief period that she and Dad lived in Atlanta she knew of it but never actually went. Dad, a Georgia Tech graduate, was familiar enough with Manuel’s to stop by on his bike on the way home from work on Fridays to pick up a quart of beer (in a milk carton?!) for him and mom to share in their new old house in Candler Park. (I picture them sitting on the front steps watching neighbors pass by or leaning against a wall in a bare room on halfway refinished floors.) It was the 1970s and the 20-year-old Manuel’s was already an acclaimed institution. I can only wonder that Dad never took her there–I guess there was always next time. Nearly 40 years later, Mom confessed this to us when she and P came over for a wedding in November of last year. There wasn’t going to be another “next time” so after the wedding on a cold Saturday night, we got a ride to Manuel’s for a late night beer. It was nearly midnight when we breezed in the back door in our wedding clothes and slipped happily into one of the wooden booths by the bar.

I never lived close enough for Manuel’s to become my own go-to bar, but I have known it since my days in Athens and later living in Atlanta. Squeezing into the packed bar on a weekend night was daunting, finding a spot to sit at Carapace required planning ahead, but there were less crowded weeknight meals of chickens sandwiches or casual gatherings in the Eagle’s Nest. And there was always plenty of beer. To me as to most anyone who went there, Manuel’s, despite the layer of grime that every dive bar has, always exuded a special sense of place that was hard not to respect.

As most everyone knows now, Manuel’s is undergoing renovations and a massive development of the surrounding land- and possibly overhead air-space. They closed on December 27, 2015, but promise to reopen, bolstered for a new generation. Thanks to rather incredible documentary project they say the interior will boast the same finishes, wooden booths, bar and, much to most folks’ skepticism, the same photos and stickers, pennants and memorabilia on the wall in the exact same places. At least, they say they CAN recreate it, I’m not really sure they’ve promised to.

IMG_9716The project to preserve what amounts to a “harbor of memories in an ever-changing city” is being carried out in a [mostly] Georgia State University project called “Unpacking Manuel’s Tavern.” A recent article in GSU magazine goes in-depth on the project, an awesome piece of digital preservation, a collection of histories and memories that anyone will be able to “walk through” and, as they say “unpack.”

So while my own unpacking of Manuel’s will go unrecorded (besides here) if you follow there facebook page you’ll find a few other memories, people are eager to share and I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’ll be looking forward to the “Unpacking” project’s release as much as to the reopening of Man-WELL’s.

One for the Road, GSU magazine, Q1.16 IMG_9730


Midtown Boom

Curbed’s visual of current development statuses in Midtown Atlanta Forty Projects Leave Few Block Untouched in Midtown

Not at all surprisingly, Curbed beat me to it. I wanted to write a post after I’d had a chance to compile a complete catalog of Midtown Atlanta’s low-rise 20th century commercial structures. I should know I do not have time for that. However, I can at least keep up a casual documentation of midtown’s historic and mid-century buildings via flickr tagging.

Midtown Atlanta is changing fast. While there is plenty of development to be happy for—infill construction where surface parking has snaggled-toothed blocks for ages—the loss of ever more of Midtown’s few historic resources are saddening.

The former low-rise corner of 14th St. and West Peachtree is slated to become 1163 West Peachtree

The former low-rise corner of 14th St. and West Peachtree is slated to become 1163 West Peachtree

The rate of destruction became truly alarming to me after the disappearance of the cute little commercial block (formerly home to an Einstein’s, a Zip Car office and Carolyn’s Gourmet) on the SE corner of 14th and West Peachtree the Checkers at 10th and Spring.

Midtown has always shown an array of eras, grand houses on Peachtree, slightly less grand on the flanking streets, followed by early 20th century commercial cropping up at crossroads such as 10th. In the mid-20th century midtown shifted away from residential and tear-downs gave way to single story mid-century office and retail buildings, in the 60s and 70s we get a few larger, often 2-story commercial structures and later came the towers, and more towers. I love seeing a house among the office towers, remnants of past eras strewn here and there in the heart of a bustling office district. But with all this new development, while a few Landmarked buildings will remains (Rhodes Hall, the Wimbish House…) we are in danger of loosing almost every one of those [more ordinary] links to each of Midtown’s pasts.


the Great Window Debate

Since M started the blasphemous discussion of tear-downs and window replacement in my house the other night I have been lying awake thinking about it. I can see that double-paned glass is more energy efficient than single-paned, I know you can feel the difference. I know energy efficiency is environmentally friendly, in fact I hope that environmental friendliness will save the world, but I also know the enormous environmental costs of demo and new materials, that any salesman will inflate energy loss/efficiency numbers to their advantage, and I have seen how very restorable older windows are vs. the short life span of replacement windows.

I know Preservationists’ biggest argument is often about “the historic character” of something but we have to acknowledge that many people just don’t give a damn, and that’s, well, that’s fine.

While preservationists protested, a few other people were doing their homework and refuting window replacement with valid arguments. The following articles cite findings that the time it would actually take to save $$ on this big investment (replacement windows) was consistently around 30 years, more than twice as long as the time it would take to recoup the investment in repairing and restoring existing windows. Read these (non-pres) articles on the pros and cons:
The Great Window Debate
Update Historic Windows

Energy efficiency, the environment and historic preservation are all important to me, and in my world they go hand in hand. In light of that, I’ve done my best here to be a good journalist. I’ve been honing my argument and this time I won’t even mention the aesthetic appeal:

  • Yes, double-pane glass is more efficient—it was a pretty great invention in fact.
    • Before double-pane glass came around people used storm windows to achieve that insulating layer of air. Storm windows (I prefer exterior and operable for use with double-hung windows) are still a brilliant retrofit option.
    • double-pane glass has gases between it that help filter UV and provide insulation, unluckily these can and almost always will eventually leak, leaving you with permanent condensation in the middle – yuck!
  • New windows require less maintenance
    • But the material is significantly lesser quality and unless you pay for custom built, high-quality wooden windows (an option many homeowners do, one at a time, when an old window really DOES get beyond repair), you will be replacing those windows wholesale in 20-30 years. Oh nevermind, leave that to the next homeowner.
  • Exterior storm windows also offer protection from the elements.
Operable metal storm windows at our house have been in place, I'm guessing, since at least the early '90s and though the wood windows are in need of paint at this point, they are far from deteriorating despite having not been touched in at LEAST 25 years.

Operable metal storm windows at our house have been in place, I’m guessing, since at least the early ’90s and though the wood windows are in need of paint at this point, they are far from deteriorating despite having not been touched in at LEAST 25 years. This winter, the wind rattled the windows but a little piece of cardboard fixed that and the storms kept the drafts at bay.

  • Most of the heat loss in your home is through the ceiling and walls, followed by the floor, windows and doors. Percentages range from 25-42% energy loss through the ceiling, 24-35% lost through uninsulated walls and 5-15% through windows. Hence, replacing your windows might feel warmer at the window but make little difference in the room’s ability to retain warm or cool air if the ceiling, walls, and floor are not properly insulated.
  • Speaking of which, old wooden windows SHOULD NOT be drafty! if you are feeling a draft around your window, it’s not because it has single-pane glass, it’s because it’s not sealed well which is infinitely fixable! Panes may need re-glazing (the putty that holds the glass in from the exterior), weather-stripping updated and/or caulk may be needed around the frame where it fits into the wall. Weather-stripping is the easiest of DIY fixes.
  • The replacement window industry wants us to buy new windows (duh), they’ve concocted all sorts of statistics and claims to make it seem like a no brainer. But even though their best claims were exaggerated, the damage was done, much of the general public was convinced that replacement windows would solve all their problems, and also:
    • Driven by consumer demand, the Real Estate industry lapped it up and preached the replacement window gospel.
    • Contractors will probably encourage you to get new windows too whether they believe in them or not because it SO easy to demo the old and install new and less time-consuming than restoring old windows.
  • Additionally, sending all your old windows to the landfill in favor of all new material that will go to the landfill in another 20-30 years (because they can’t be restored thanks to the low quality) wins some major negative environmental points.

In short, replacing your old windows is not a pat answer to the problem of heating and cooling efficiency in homes, and it is certainly NOT the first thing you should do to improve efficiency. Although houses will be different, air leaks should be sealed (windows and doors as well as outlets, baseboards, can lights and other problem areas) and insulation added before anything else is done.

Industry jargon needs to be analyzed, whether it’s from a Realtor, the Window Industry, OR a Preservationist.

If I’m trying to improve my comfort and save $$, I would restore my wood windows hands down, seal drafts and make sure I have sufficient insulation in the attic and floor which will have a greater effect on the comfort level of the whole room. I might even install storm windows if I wanted to spend a little more money and really reap the efficiency benefits. If a window was so far gone it had to be replaced, I would certainly take advantage of double-paned glass, but get a good quality wood window custom built to match the others so that I wouldn’t need to replace all the windows in my house for aesthetic reasons.

What about metal window frames??
I don’t know much about restoring metal windows in mid-century homes, although it can be done. I do know the frame gets quite cold. So I’m not surprised that you’d feel a huge difference once the metal windows in a ranch house were replaced with new ones. In this instance replacement seems reasonable, though I’d still be sure to choose quality windows without plastic bits that break.


a neighborhood re-written

I learned something new about history along the Beltline the other day!

The old Bellwood Quarry property was purchased by the City of Atlanta in 2006 for the future 300 acre Westside Reservoir Park which will connect to the Beltline in its northwest segment. The park will incorporate the abandoned Bellwood Quarry which will serve as a reservoir for Atlanta’s water supply. When filled, the quarry will be deeeeeeeeep (so don’t fall in!) able to contain 30 days-worth of back-up water supply for the city. This is a thorough WABE report on the future Westside Reservoir Park.

WestsidePark-overlay notes

The property (outlined above) appears to be a shoe-in for a park, comprised of great expanses of field and forest besides the quarry itself. But all of that property is not all undeveloped land or at least it wasn’t always. I learned the other day that, in fact, a whole neighborhood had been built, lived in, and demolished–not once, but TWICE–where woods now stand on the northern portion of the future park, enter…

ROCKDALE PARK

Perry-Rockdale crop Atlanta_Base_Map 1940

The neighborhood of Rockdale Park has disappeared purposely from Atlanta’s maps two times in the 20th century, as Joe Hurley told us in a session of the 2015 Atlanta Studies Symposium. “Rockdale” does appear in the list of Westside neighborhoods on beltline.org though all that appears today is 21st century development north of the future park. Physical evidence of this area before the turn of the millennium has been all but wiped out. This too is about where the google-able information stops but Mr. Hurley’s tale of urban housing fails picks up.

It started to make sense when I discovered how closely Rockdale Park was linked with one of Atlanta’s infamous housing projects, Perry Homes. In fact, it appears that the original Rockdale Park neighborhood (a grid of streets and early 20th century houses) covered the ground from the Bellwood Quarry north to the railroad line and Inman Yards. In the 1939-40 real estate map of Atlanta above, you can see the neighborhood clearly laid out both north and south of Johnson Road which today (it’s route redrawn a little) makes the northern border of the future Westside Reservoir Park. 1949 aerials of Atlanta clearly show what may have been American small houses, but I’m just guessing. It is likely too that the residents of this neighborhood were mostly blue collar, associated either with the quarrying to the south of or the enormous Inman Yards.

Inman Yard Atlanta, c. 1917, Atlanta History Center

Inman Yard Atlanta, c. 1917, Atlanta History Center

In 1960, the area between the railroad and Proctor Creek was majority African-American (see this “Percent Non-White” map) and was already part of the urban housing–“projects”–experiments going on across mid-century America. In 1959 the first Perry Homes housing project was built just north of Johnson Road, after a fire, the “homes” were rebuilt in the mid-1970s and this so-called “residential brownfield,” “a region [of Atlanta] that for nearly 50 years has been synonymous with crime and violence and blight” (AHA press) was eventually torn down by 2000 when the mixed use development, West Highland, was begun to transform the area. Heck, Marta wouldn’t even go there–although a Perry Homes spur was proposed, the line (now the Edgewood-Bankhead short train) would only be built as far as the Bankhead Highway.

Mr. Hurley showed us that the Rockdale Park neighborhood was razed, and while the northern portion became Perry Homes, the lower portion was never redeveloped to it’s full potential. Some but not all of the proposed buildings of a housing project on the South side of Johnson Road were built, and within short decades, also demolished. Nothing stands there now except the scraped earth of the most recent development, and forest with no trespassing signs shrouding any evidence of the earlier neighborhood called Rockdale Park.

Current googlemap of the northern Westside Reservoir Park overlaying the 1939-40 map of Rockdale Park neighborhood.

Current googlemap of the northern Westside Reservoir Park overlaying the 1939-40 map of Rockdale Park neighborhood.

While Rockdale Park has been mostly forgotten for decades, the creation of the Westside Reservoir Park offers a great opportunity to bring its memory, history, and the lessons of the neighborhood’s demise back into the public consciousness and the story of Atlanta.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping Mr. Hurley will put more on the web soon as his studies progress!


the vintage bathroom

and interpretation at Callanwolde

I LOVE 1920s bathrooms. Those built-in closets, subway tile walls, hex tile floors, the way the sunlight filters across them, those heavy pedestal sinks with their original fixtures and matching round-edged 6-foot bathtubs… sitzbathBut I’d never seen a fixture like this until stepping into one of the original upstairs bathrooms (no longer used) at Callanwolde. Tour guides are not allowed to say it (it would seem that we are not supposed to know that members of a certain elite Atlanta family had ailments like anyone else) but it is a s-i-t-z bath, which basically explains it, it’s a bath for your sits. Also known as a “hip bath” it allows you to soak up to your hips whether you’ve just given birth, have hemorrhoids or other, [unspeakable?] ailments. Personally I think it sounds nice, at least, if you’re not ailing.

Actually, more research reveals that in the 1920s, this high tech bathroom was something of a status symbol. According to an article in Old House Journal:

“before 1910, bathrooms in and of themselves were often status symbols. In an era when houses with running water and waste piping were new and modern, a single bathroom with lavatory, flushing toilet, and fixed tub was a sign of progressive thinking and an essential step in the march toward better hygiene. What’s more, the bathrooms of the wealthy were not so much places of daily cleanup and dressing, but therapeutic laboratories akin to personal spas. The shower we now associate with a daily spritz was frequently a stand-alone cage of multiple sprays designed for skin or kidney stimulation [also at Callanwolde], while tubs were dispersed around the room for soaking one or more parts of the body.”

1914KOHLER2
So, the Candlers’ bathroom was just an extension of the 1920-high-tech systems found throughout the house including central heating, a whole-house vacuuming system (have yet to figure that one out), and a speaker system in multiple rooms connected to the Aeolian organ (wiki).

So I say get over it! Instead of leaving guests to wonder, conjecture, and come up with potentially rude comments, let’s take the mystery out of this fixture and teach people something new! This bathroom was personal therapeutic spa, we should be jealous.

Go soak your hips.

Exciting images of the upstairs bathrooms at Callanwolde, featuring a corner tub, built-in cabinets, a rib-cage shower, a tiny separate shaving sink and screens which cover the central heat system.

Exciting images of the upstairs bathrooms at Callanwolde, featuring a corner tub, built-in cabinets, a rib-cage shower, a tiny separate shaving sink and screens which cover the central heat system.


Hawkes’ Libraries

(a Georgia-sized continuation of the Gilded Age’s social reform philanthropy)

A little less than a year ago a phone call out of the blue turned me on to a bit of Georgia history I had never heard of. The city of Jackson, Georgia, wanted to know how to save their 1925 Hawkes Library. Hawkes Library? I made confirming noises like I understood while my fingers started in on google. What I learned lead me deep into the annals of American values in the Gilded Age, philanthropy, and social philosophical ideals. But it started with a man named Albert King Hawkes.

Albert King Hawkes was an optometrist, inventor, and philanthropist. He was born in 1848 in Massachusetts but settled in Atlanta in 1886 and began an optical company which would become nationally known. Possibly partly because he didn’t have a family to pass his wealth on to Hawkes followed in the philanthropical footsteps of the wealthy benefactors from the Gilded Age (late 1800s) before him. According to one Hawkes Library National Register nomination:

“His donations were attributed to his interest in “sociological conditions” and in giving where it could most benefit society. He founded the Georgia Training School for Girls with a $10,000 donation as well as the land… He donated to various colleges, and a dormitory is named for him at LaGrange College. He provided for over-aged Methodist ministers, as well as Methodist orphans.”

PUBLIC LIBRARIES AND PHILANTHROPY

some of Georgia's Carnegie Libraries, past and present

Georgia’s Carnegie Libraries, past and present

As America industrialized after the Civil War, waves of social reform also swept the nation. Besides libraries, this era saw a huge push for public schools, prison reform, housing services and the roots of the temperance movement. Much of the development in the way of public libraries was due to the philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie who had raised himself from the slums of Pittsburgh to become the richest man in the world through his steel industry businesses. In line with the social reformers of his day, Carnegie believed in social institutions’ ability to reform society, and in the wealthy few’s duty as benefactors. He considered the library in particular a strong influence on the “meritocratic nature” of America and thus a wise investment in order, stability, and sound economic growth.

From 1883 to 1916, Carnegie provided the funds for 2,811 libraries around the world. According to a PBS American Experience program, “Ordering a library from Carnegie was as easy as ordering a sofa from the Sears Catalog.” Step one was to submit a request in writing. Step two involved identifying a site. Step three identify matching funds for maintenance.

In Georgia, 29 total Carnegie libraries were built, 5 at institutions of higher learning.

Mr. Albert K. Hawkes apparently felt he could provide for society in a similar manner. By the early 20th century the public library was evolving as new services to address the needs of the “common man” were coming to the fore. Hawkes’ specification that the libraries be oriented toward children was a result of these new ways of thinking. In addition, and possibly due to his visual or simply technological savvy background, Hawkes wanted libraries to incorporate moving picture facilities as well.

Hawkes Library

Hawkes Free Children’s Library in Griffin, Ga.

HAWKES’ LIBRARIES
The first discussions between the city of Griffin began in 1913 and the Griffin Hawkes Children’s Library officially opened in November of 1916. Though he had donated previously to libraries in Grantville, Roswell, and possibly other Georgia towns, the Griffin library was Hawkes’ first large-scale experiment in providing both literary and motion picture facilities. If it worked he planned to fund other children’s libraries around the state. Unfortunately, Albert K. Hawkes died in 1916 just as the Griffin library was opened. His will, however, provided $7,500 in funds for libraries in a short list of towns. Hawkes libraries in Cedartown (1921), West Point (1922), and Jackson (1925) were built as those cities raised the additional funds for construction and materials.

Although no specification from Hawkes is known, Hawkes’ libraries, like Carnegie’s were Classically styled and beautifully done. All but one of the libraries is attributed the Atlanta architectural firm Hentz, Reid and Adler and Neel Reid himself. Robert and Co. is the architect listed for the West Point library.

Despite being called a children’s library, the Griffin library and the others after it, served adults too as these were the only public libraries in town and served most towns into the 1970s or later.

The Hawkes Library in West Point is the only one still operating as a library today.

Hawkes Library, Jackson, Ga.

Hawkes Library, Jackson, Ga.

By the way, the update on the library in Jackson? On the brink of demolition the city managed to stall the county and purchase the building. Today it has a new roof and a committee is being established to oversee the building’s rehabilitation.


the many incarnations of Underground Atlanta

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here, but I’ve had this one in the works since this summer when serious talk began circulating about Underground Atlanta’s potential sale. 2 days ago Mayor Kasim Reed announced that sale to South Carolina developer T. Scott Smith “who plans to convert the struggling center into a mixed-use development with a grocery anchor [much-needed downtown] and apartment homes” towering above-ground. This is a significant departure from the tourist-centered plans that have governed Underground since the 1960s and it may be just what downtown needs but as with many big developments, the fate of our historic built environment is in the balance and it’s a big deal.

Us Atlantans, we all know Underground, it’s a place natives have been to a time or two in their youth but adult transplants have never and would never EVER be caught dead there. It’s the early ’90s all over again right? is it a theme park? a shopping mall?? Yes and no…

To be honest, besides an Unseen Underground walking tour a few years ago, the most time I’ve spent there was while I was in grad school, and that was mostly on the street above, so I took my camera one day for a quick walk-through. There’s a lot of history down there, let me tell you, and standing beyond the white glare of the shoe store, looking at the rebuilt curbs and sidewalks, well, honestly, you get a real feel for this crazy historic space. It may be a little Disney-fied but the “street underground” is a unique real-life urban planning phenomenon.

Untitled

A BRIEF HISTORY
atlanta_georgia-the_commercial_centre-300x194good video version

As we probably all know by now, Atlanta owes its very existence to the railroad, and by the time of the Civil War it was the hub of commerce for the rest of Georgia and the South. Of course Sherman put a brief end to that in 1864 but the rail lines were soon back in business and by 1869 Atlanta was constructing the Georgia RR Freight Depot which still sits at the eastern end of Alabama Street. The freight depot sat to one side of what we today call “the gulch,” through which a slew of railroad tracks ran. The huge train shed seen in this image sits alongside Wall St. in the gulch and was catercorner to the freight depot whose now-gone front tower can barely be seen on the right.

The gulch, as you can imagine, was a traffic disaster. Horses and carriages, streetcars, pedestrians, trains, and ever-increasing automobiles all converged in this wide, largely unregulated throughway. By the 1910s the area had become so congested that the city built iron bridges over a few of the streets.

Beginning construction of the viaducts along Alabama St., view east from Peachtree with the freight depot at the end.

Beginning construction of the viaducts along Alabama St., view east from Peachtree with the freight depot at the end.

In the early 1920s, Atlanta architect Haralson Bleckley convinced the city to replace the haphazard iron bridges with a unified system of concrete bridges over all the streets in the area. The original grade of Wall Street, which ran alongside the train tracks of the gulch, pretty much disappeared while the low-lying blocks of Alabama Street were submerged with the buildings intact.

1886 Sanborne map of downtown Atlanta, gray shows the elevated roadways built in the 1920s, pink areas should orient you to the layout today.

1886 Sanborne map of downtown Atlanta, gray shows the elevated roadways built in the 1920s, pink areas should orient you to the layout today.

Consequently, the businesses that had been located at the original street level moved up to what was then the second floor and the new street level. Some of the old storefronts below were boarded or bricked up and became basement storage while others became speakeasies during Prohibition. Cofer quotes Blues legend Bessie Smith’s “Atlanta Blues”:

Down in Atlanta G.A.
Underneath the viaduct one day
Drinking corn and hollerin’ hoo-ray
Piano playin’ till the break of day

After Prohibition ended, the underground speakeasies were no longer needed and within a few years, the 12 acre, 5 block stretch of Alabama street was completely forgotten.

Underground ATL 1970s Postcard.jpgIn the 1960s, the original storefronts were rediscovered and many architectural features from a century earlier had survived intact including decorative brickwork, granite archways, ornate marble, cast-iron pilasters, hand-carved wooden posts, and gas street lamps. Two Georgia Tech graduates, Steven H. Fuller, Jr. and Jack R. Patterson, begin to plan a private development there to restore and reopen “the city beneath the city” as a retail and entertainment district (wiki). In 1969 the first Underground Atlanta opened. “Liquor by-the-drink” sales regulations kept Underground classy for a time but as alcohol sales relaxed Underground got seedier. The district was reincarnated as the mall we know today in 1989 and spruced up again for the 1996 Olympics.


The construction of MARTA in the late 1970s razed several historic buildings both above and below the viaducts, which must have been a motivating factor in getting Underground Atlanta listed as a National Register district in 1980. Despite redevelopments so far, much of the historic fabric remains. By my estimate, at least half of the storefronts on the 2+ block stretch of Lower Alabama Street date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The upper portions of many of those same buildings, however, have been dramatically altered or rebuilt.

Although very intriguing in its own right, the tourist-tied reincarnations of Underground Atlanta have never been lasting successes. On the brink of another redevelopment, there has been talk of “razing” Underground (Fuqua), although in later discussions, Mayor Reed seems cognizant of the significant history of the district. The other day he acknowledged Underground as “the place where Atlanta started” and, in an 11Alive interview several months back, he seemed to indicate that the historic environment of Underground was safe from destruction.

Mayor Reed is not developing Underground though and, like a good preservationist, I have to ask WHY is it NOT protected, this super significant piece of Atlanta’s history, preserved here by unique bit of urban planning that few others can claim?? I’m sure there’s an answer, follow the money.

sigh.

RESOURCES:
– look here for great pictures of the viaducts in the mid-20th century
– from the Atlanta Preservation Center with a link to the NR form
– lengthy and captivating history by blogger Jim Cofer