Parklet Sighting in Montreal

What’s lovelier than sitting outside on a warm summer day for lunch or enjoying a drink and your company at the end of the day? Many restaurants, particularly in our cold northern climate, do not have permanent outdoor seating. Why? Because sitting outside is only a good idea for a few months out of the year. For the rest of the year the sidewalks and patios are cold, covered in snow and inhospitable. But, come summertime we want to take advantage of that nice weather and soak it in as much as we can.

Remember learning about parklets? It’s a conversion of parking space (temporary or permanent) into public space. Some are free for the public, outfitted with benches and plantings and designed to be meeting spaces for community members. Restaurants are catching on and creating outdoor dining areas from parking spaces – a twist on the “park” of parklets. While these are clearly affiliated with restaurants (meaning, not free for the public because you need to make a purchase), it’s still a great use of space to bring the community to the street.

These restaurants parklets are from Montreal, Quebec. While they vary in design and style, all are enclosed and encompass part of the sidewalk and parking spaces.

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A casual parklet with pink picnic tables.

This view shows the parklet platform half on the sidewalk, half in the street.

This view shows the parklet platform half on the sidewalk, half in the street.

Enclosed in, metal fence. Across the street is the Old Port of Montreal.

Enclosed in, metal fence. Across the street is the Old Port of Montreal.

Almost completely in the parking space, this parklet dresses up the scene with flower boxes and planting.

Almost completely in the parking space, this parklet dresses up the scene with flower boxes and planting. And check out the view across the street. Beautiful buildings!

A closer view of the restaurant parklet. (Side note: In the life of a preservationist, I always feel like people think I'm taking photographs of them. Nope, sorry, just the environment!)

A closer view of the restaurant parklet. (Side note: In the life of a preservationist, I always feel like people think I’m taking photographs of them. Nope, sorry, just the environment!)

What do you think of restaurant parklets? Do you want to be eating next to traffic? It’s a great use of space if your town or city has narrow sidewalks, but maybe sipping your drink and enjoying your meal is more difficult if a car is idling in traffic next to you. Yay or nay? Seen any in your neighborhood? Would you prefer a parklet for a restaurant or free for public use?

Westmount Conservatory

An answer and a follow up to the most recent Preservation Pop Quiz

In the Westmount neighborhood of Montreal, this 1927 conservatory (also called a Victorian greenhouse) sits adjacent to the Westmount Public Library. It’s open year-round to the public and is filled with plants, flowers, and water fountains.

The view inside the conservatory.

The view inside the conservatory. 

Looking up at the ceiling on a rainy day. Imagine the warm sunshine beaming through those panes!

Looking up at the ceiling on a rainy day. Imagine the warm sunshine beaming through those panes!

Pink flowers!

Pink flowers and tiled floors.

The still-operational ventilators inside the greenhouse. The wheel and shaft open the windows.

The still-operational ventilators inside the greenhouse. The wheel and shaft open the windows.

The conservatory is adjacent to the Westmount Public Library.

The conservatory is adjacent to the Westmount Public Library.

Any greenhouses by you? I’m not a plant expert, but the sight of flowers and historic buildings is enough to draw me in for a stroll through a conservatory.

Being a Tourist by Trolley

The Burlington Traction Company trolley in Burlington, VT, 1906. Photo source: UVM Landscape Change program.

The Burlington Traction Company trolley in Burlington, VT, 1906. Photo source: UVM Landscape Change program.

Eighty-four years after burning a trolley in the street, to signify the end of the streetcar era, Burlington, VT once again has trolleys rolling about the city. Maybe these aren’t electric streetcars on steel rails, but they are historic and do take people around the city.

The Historic Trolley Tours of Burlington began in summer 2012, offering historical tours of the city as well as chartered trolleys for special events. Ride onboard one of trolleys and you’ll likely have the owner, Ric Crossman, as your tour guide. He gives the tours, instructs the drivers, and his wife does the research and script writing. The couple got the idea for Burlington trolley tours after visiting places like St. Augustine, FL and enjoying the trolley tours there.

In Burlington you choose between the north tour or the south tour. A few weeks ago, I hopped on the trolley for a north tour, hoping to learn more about the city. The 1.5 hour tour did just that, taking loops through the north side of Burlington in places that I don’t often get to explore. I appreciate a good tour. This one was accomplished by making figure 8s through some areas that way you were able to see both sides of the street and hear the history, without having to look in every direction at once. The tour is given by recording, but it is keyed to the GPS location of the bus, and our tour guide was able to pause the recording, add more information and comment.

On a sunny spring afternoon, it was fun to play tourist in my own city – see some photos below. Ric Crossman hopes to add tours, improve the tours and expand operations. He’s off to a good start.  Next time, I’ll take the south tour. Any trolley tours by you?

All aboard. When not in operation, the trolleys are parked near Perkins Pier in Burlington.

All aboard. When not in operation, the trolleys are parked near Perkins Pier in Burlington.

Otherwise you can catch a ride from the bottom of College Street, at the Visitor Info building at the RR tracks (near the Echo Center).

Otherwise you can catch a ride from the bottom of College Street, at the Visitor Info building at the RR tracks (near the Echo Center).

The owner found this trolley from a company in Quebec. Keeping it local (basically).

The owner found this trolley from a company in Quebec. Keeping it local (basically).

The immaculate interior of the trolley.

The immaculate interior of the trolley.

Trolley view of Church Street.

Trolley view of Church Street.

Funky new redevelopment in the Old North End.

Funky new redevelopment in the Old North End.

A historic firehouse.

The oldest firehouse in Burlington on Mansfield Avenue.

Crossing into Winooski, the Champlain Mill in the background.

Crossing into Winooski, the Champlain Mill in the background.

Over the Winooski River (Winooski is Burlington's neighbor). Don't look too closely at the railing.

Over the Winooski River (Winooski is Burlington’s neighbor). Don’t look too closely at the railing.

Owner, tour guide, Ric Crossman dressed to play the part.

Owner, tour guide, Ric Crossman dressed to play the part.

Island Pond Hands on Hammers

Hammers, nails, hauling old carpet, cleaning trash, moving building materials, painting, installing board and batten siding, good food, rural Vermont…and that’s just the basic outline of a very productive day in Island Pond – “Hands on Hammers.” Surprisingly the weather behaved, and by the afternoon we had warm and sunshine. The work day is a new addition to the conference, and an excellent opportunity for us preservationists to walk the walk, as opposed to only talking. The Preservation Trust of Vermont will share the work day video and summary soon, but here are a few photos of the day. Does your state conference have a work day? What else do you do in addition to sessions and receptions? We in Vermont would love to know!

Starting early in the day. Note the windows missing and siding missing.

The carpenters get to work, starting early in the day. Note the windows missing and siding missing.

Scaffolding for all of the carpentry work.

Scaffolding for all of the carpentry work.

Paint and more paint!

Paint and more paint, and sawing.

This is after cleaning. We removed junk along with heavy carpet & pad, moldy beadboard, building materials, and a piano. This looks much better!

This is after cleaning. We removed junk along with heavy carpet & pad, moldy beadboard, building materials, and a piano. This looks much better!

Back outside, many volunteers at work.

Back outside, many volunteers at work.

Fellow UVM alums and colleagues: the two (C)(K)aitlins!

Fellow UVM alums and colleagues: the two (C)(K)aitlins!

At the end of the work day. Work remains for the trained carpenters, but much has been accomplished.

At the end of the work day. Work remains for the trained carpenters, but much has been accomplished.

At the end of the conference: beautiful sunshine! Church looking great.

At the end of the conference: beautiful sunshine! Church looking great.

Christ Church overlooking Island Pond.

Christ Church overlooking Island Pond.

What have you been up to your in state?

Abandoned Vermont: Hubbardton Church

The shore of Lake Bomoseen is a popular summer camp area in Vermont. Up here, “summer camp” is like “summer cottage” or “beach house” as opposed to kids’ “summer camp”. The terminology threw me at first, since I grew up on the ocean, not a lake. Historic districts and houses line Vermont Route 30 (sitting practically on the road in some places!) and winding roads around the lake. This 1925 church appears on the map as the Hubbardton Congregational Church, but a lack of signage and unsuccessful searching gives me few answers to its fate. The church appears to be used as only storage.

View from the across the street.

View from the across the street. You can see how close it sits on the highway.

Beautiful Queen Anne windows.

Beautiful Queen Anne windows that remain in good condition.

Belfry.

Belfry.

Boarded up and not in use.

Boarded up and not in use, this is the front entrance.

Absestos siding covers shingles underneath, which would be more fitting for its Queen Anne details.

Asbestos siding covers shingles underneath, which would be more fitting for its Queen Anne details.

South elevation. View from the grass parking area.

South elevation. View from the grass parking area.

This side of the roof is in need of repair.

This side of the roof is in need of repair.

North elevation.

North elevation.

I could only see in the window by holding the camera above my head.

I could only see in the window by holding the camera above my head.

Rural Vermont is filled with small, wood-frame white churches. While some remain in service and others have been converted to alternative uses, there are many with the same fate as this Hubbardton Church. How can we help these buildings? Those of you in rural areas, what solutions have you seen?

Click images for larger files and to zoom in.