Abandoned Vermont: Brandon House

Please note that this house is for sale, not abandoned. But I cannot answer to how long it’s been for sale. 

House for sale can hold the appearance and aura of abandonment. Of course there are reasons for this. Perhaps a family member died and it’s an estate sale. Or it was a seasonal home, rarely used. This house in Brandon, Vermont gives that longing look, the look that abandoned or neglected houses carry. It strikes me as a house filled with relics of the last family to the live there; culturally interesting items, but not much that someone would want to truck back to his or her home.

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Aside from that modern garage door, the house maintains much of its architectural integrity.

White house in the white winter snow. The windows look dark and cold, and the house immediately seemed to have that abandoned lure.

White house in the white winter snow. The windows look dark and cold, and the house immediately seemed to have that abandoned lure.

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A beautiful ca. 1850 Greek Revival house.

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For sale by owner, the sign says.

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With a beautiful barn.

Cross your fingers for this house; all it needs is a new owner and some love.

Stuck Inside?

If it’s snowing in Virginia (according to @umwhisp), it’s certainly snowing up north.

Sigh. What will we do with ourselves? Last week, I mentioned historical documentaries as a way to hide from the cold and not feel guilty about being inside. Are you sick of the glowing screens yet? Here’s another (mostly) inside adventure. Or at least something to make you feel better about being inside, dashing from one warm place to the next.

When you walk into a building, look up. Seriously. Do this everywhere. Most of us will scan the room to get our surroundings, and never look above our eye level. Do you know what you’re missing?

Ceilings! 

Look up!

Look up!

Okay, maybe this a form of entertainment only for preservation nerds. But hear me out. Preservation ABCs: C is for Ceiling as well as Battling Poor Lighting Choices begin to address the overlooked (or shall I say under-looked, ha) importance of ceilings and lighting and all elements above our heads.

Take note of where you are: residence, business, office. How high is the ceiling? What is the material: drywall, tin, plaster, tiles? What’s your immediate reaction when you look at it? What would you rather see? How do you define a good ceiling?

This exercise is not limited to historic buildings. Are you stuck with drop ceilings and florescent lighting? Wouldn’t something – anything be an improvement? Popcorn ceilings, aside.

Recently I was with a friend who mentioned she never thought to look up in places. And now, she has been noticing ceilings. Hooray!

Give it a try. Walk into a building. Look up. Once you learn to look up, it’s fun! And how you view your surroundings will be forever changed. Or you’ll think my love for good ceilings is verging on unhealthy.

Abandoned Vermont: Brandon High School

The trailer sitting in front of the high school adds to the abandoned feel.

The trailer sitting in front of the high school adds to the abandoned feel.

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.

Wouldn't it be nice to walk to these school doors?

Wouldn’t it be nice to walk to these school doors? Quiz: would you call this building Neoclassical Revival or Beaux Arts?

The front doors, closed and barricaded. Nice sidelights, transom, and details.

The front doors, closed and barricaded. Nice sidelights, transom, hardware, and details.

Looking through the front entrance.

Looking through the front entrance.

Cornerstone. 1916.

Marble cornerstone. 1916.

Brick details between the first and second stories.

Brick details between the first and second stories.

Side steps to nowhere. An addition removed?

Side steps to nowhere. An addition removed? Yikes.

That last step will get you. And note some deterioration on the door frame.

That last step will get you. And note some deterioration on the door frame.

Details.

Details.

View from the ground. The windows on the concrete foundation look into the (very deep) basement. The first and second floors were used as classroom space.

View from the ground. The windows on the concrete foundation look into the (very deep) basement. The first and second floors were used as classroom space.

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).

Preservation ABCs: X is X-ray

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.

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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.

A Jaunt Through Buffalo

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.

The drive into Buffalo was very flat. It was an interesting layout - water, industry, highway, industry. While much seemed like shuttered factories and property on the outskirts, there seemed to be recent redevelopment occurring as you got closer to the city.

The drive into Buffalo was very flat. It was an interesting layout – water, industry, highway, industry. Buffalo presents an interesting transportation planning relic: placing the interstates along the waterways. It completely cuts off the community from the water access. While much seemed like shuttered factories and property on the outskirts, there seemed to be recent redevelopment occurring as you got closer to the city.

Mills and factories, oh my!

Mills and factories, oh my!

More of Buffalo's industrial heritage on display.

More of Buffalo’s industrial heritage on display.

After exiting the interstate you're suddenly in the land of beautiful architecture. Mr. Stilts was more than happy to pose for photo-ops.

After exiting the interstate you’re suddenly in the land of beautiful architecture. Mr. Stilts was more than happy to pose for photo-ops.

Building after building, Buffalo was stunning!

Building after building, Buffalo was stunning!

Holy scaffolding! That church is getting some love.

Holy scaffolding! That church is getting some love.

City Hall is one of the most beautiful buildings I've seen anywhere.

City Hall is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve seen anywhere.

Adjacent to City Hall.

Adjacent to City Hall.

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.

Sweetness 7 Cafe in Buffalo.

Sweetness 7 Cafe in Buffalo.

The interior of Sweetness 7 Cafe. It is absolutely delicious food and coffee!

The interior of Sweetness 7 Cafe. It is absolutely delicious food and coffee!

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.

With Bernice in Sweetness 7.

With Bernice in Sweetness 7.

Buffalo, I’ll be back!