This 1916 building was constructed as the high school in Brandon, VT. It operated until around the 1960s, when the regional high school was built. Brandon High School has an owner (as all buildings do), with ideas of converting the building into condos/apartments. However, the building has been empty and neglected for many years.
The building appears in solid condition. Looking into the building the ceilings have been removed, but the joists remain. Old school supplies lie scattered on the floor. Some windows are broken, but overall, the building appears to have potential, despite being empty for decades. Sending good vibes to Brandon, VT. This building sits just outside the designated historic district and within walking distance of Brandon’s downtown, which is filled with shops and restaurants. If you’re traveling in Vermont, it’s a great place to stop. (I’ve had ice cream a few times in the ice cream & antique shop…and sat on the giant chair with my sisters).
Vermont loses many of its barns in the harsh winter seasons.
Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go. Enjoy! See previous letters.
X is for X-ray
X-rays are not just for people in hospitals or luggage in airport security; x-ray technology provides non-destructive testing techniques to aid in building forensics as well as art and object conservation. Non-destructive testing allows for greater exploration without unnecessarily harming historic fabric. X-rays can detect voids in building materials as well as leaks, cracks, and other signs of deterioration. Part of this is to understand the structure and ensure the safety of the researchers/contractors. X-ray fluoroscopy is used to identify materials such as lead, which you know is a common question about buildings today. (See NPS Brief 35: Understanding Old Buildings.)
If you’re involved in the preservation technology field and the building sciences, you know how in depth this topic can go (books, courses, careers). Check out this NCPTT report for more information about x-rays and other digital technologies in historic preservation. It is important to remember that science and historic preservation are connected, just as engineering and preservation are linked.
What is this building? How did you guess? Hint: it’s located in Vermont.
The trouble with fun events like the National Trust conference or any sort of vacation is that they come to an end, and you have to turn that car around and head home. Returning home is always nice, but following an excellent trip, it tends to be bittersweet. To give the journey home some excitement and adventure, I like to throw in a few surprises and let the preservation spirit guide me. This time I ended up in Buffalo, which was on my way home anyway. Knowing a handful of preservationists in Buffalo, I thought I’d drive into the city to see what it was like. After following Bernice & Dana on Twitter & Instagram, and hearing so much about Buffalo time, it seemed like a good time to visit.
Wanting a cup of coffee, I recalled many of Bernice’s instagram posts about Sweetness 7 Cafe, so I thought I’d check it out.
And the best part of this visit into Buffalo? I met Bernice and Jason at Sweetness 7, because they happened to be there when I was. Both are preservation forces in the City of Buffalo; their work is incredible. How lucky I felt to meet another social media preservation pal. In one trip I met so many inspiring preservationists who I knew via social media relationships prior.
Buffalo, I’ll be back!
The National Trust conference always offers field sessions, many of which take attendees on a tour of the host city. My schedule did not permit such a tour, but I did spend an afternoon wandering around Indianapolis. Here are buildings that caught my eyes, all within walking distance of Union Station. Not being an Indy expert, please consult Historic Indianapolis or Indiana Landmarks if you have a question. I’m simply admiring the city.
Indianapolis, you were such a pleasant surprise. I hope to return with time to explore and learn more.
Have you traveled to Buffalo? On my way back from Indianapolis, I drove through Buffalo for the first time and was amazed by the architecture stock, including this breathtaking city hall buidling. I could stare at this building all day. And next time I’m there, I’m taking a tour.
I’m deep into the trenches of a report about rail passenger stations and freight depots, so it’s about the only subject on my mind, besides the preservation conference. In almost every place I’ve lived, I can hear the train, even if it’s only at night when the air is still and the world is quiet. In some of my houses, I’ve felt the entire house shake when the freight trains barreled through town. In other places, the train is a distant rumble and whistle. There’s something comforting about that sound, and something mysterious and so adventurous about the train.
Transport by train for passengers and freight isn’t what it used to be; cars and trucks have misplaced trains for the most part. Still, railroads were the interstates of their time – taking land wherever they wanted it, blasting through mountains, diving farmland, and creating new settlements along the way. And still, railroads replaced canals. Transportation continues to evolve and change our landscape with it (fortunately in a much more conscientious way today than 50, 100, or 150 years ago).
If you grew up around the railroad, you are probably familiar with railroad depots – for passengers and freight. Most historic depots are easily recognizable, just as schoolhouses of the 1920s/1930s are easily identified by their bank of windows. While some might be high style (see Waterbury above) or more vernacular (see Roxbury below) and are constructed throughout the mid to late 19th century, these rail depots all have a few key features in common: (1) Large overhanging eaves; (2) Eaves supported by large, brackets – often decorative; (3) A rectangular shape with the length along the tracks; (4) A ticket agent bay window. Not every building will have all of these features, but next time you see a building that looks like it might be a depot, you’re probably right.