Happy Halloween

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A beautiful historic house in the Four Corners Historic District of Charlotte, VT, all ready for Halloween.

Fall in Vermont is breathtaking. This evening is a perfect Halloween evening, too, with the wind blowing the leaves in whirls across the lawn, streets covered in orange and yellow leaves, a surprisingly warm temperature (66 degress F), and just enough clouds to add mystery to the air.  Darkness is approaching and in my neighborhood the houses are awaiting trick-or-treaters.  Doesn’t it seem that all peak seasonal moments and holidays make our houses and neighborhoods all the more important and picturesque?

History Flashback: 1961

Introducing Ken Loyd, a retired third grade teacher from Sandhills Farm Life Elementary in Carthage, North Carolina. Ken is the father of a good friend of mine from North Carolina, which is how I met him and started following his blog. Ken blogs about his adorable granddaughters, his adventures with his wife Judy, and miscellaneous topics from history to music to everyday life. I love to read Ken’s blog, especially for his perspectives on history, school, and his memories (oh, and the cute baby pictures). I’m happy to say that Ken is willing to be an occasional guest blogger, as the topics come to his blog. Enjoy!

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By Ken Loyd

I just finished a good book: Our America. Funny thing is, I’d read this book before– 48 years before. It was published in 1961 and was the newly adopted history book (before the term “Social Studies” came in vogue) for DeKalb County Schools in Atlanta.

I came upon this book at a thrift shop during our summer travels. Re-reading it was truly a trip back in time. It covered American history from Columbus up to the election of John Kennedy. I loved history then, and I love it now. But my second time through the book I got a real kick out of the way several things were described.

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Here are some of my favorite examples. I hope you enjoy them.

  • On DeSoto discovering the Mississippi River: “The Spaniards thought it very muddy and did not explore it.”
  • On the settlement of Jamestown: “Now, King James had a river and a town named after him. History doesn’t say whether he was pleased or not.”
  • On buying Manhattan from the Indians: “Minuit gave the Indians trinkets and beads worth about twenty-four dollars. Manhattan Island is not for sale at that price now.”
  • On English-Spanish conflicts: “The Spaniards in Florida were not good neighbors of the Georgians. . . . After a few fights, the Spaniards decided to stay in their own yard.”
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The inside cover of Our America featured stars indicating the year each state joined the union. This was the first new textbook our school had had since Alaska and Hawaii attained statehood.

  • On the thirteen colonies: “In time, we shall see that “thirteen” was to be England’s unlucky number.”
  • On relations with King George–the “olive branch” offered: “Dear King,– Kindly be a little easier on us. Because, if you mean to take away our liberty, we will fight.”
  • On American defeat at the battle of Monmouth: “However, one of Washington’s generals ordered his men to retreat for no good reason whatever. There was a great to-do about this, and Congress told this man that he was no longer needed in the army.”
  • On children reading the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution: “Before you pick up the ‘funnies,’ or begin that new adventure story, why not read these two famous papers? Don’t be afraid of the big words in them. Any older person will be glad to tell you what they mean.”

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  • On effectiveness of “bucket brigades”: “At the cry of ‘Fire!’ men grabbed pails or buckets and formed two lines from the fire to the nearest water. The buckets were filled and passed along one line from man to man. Then the water was poured on the fire, and the buckets went down the other line to be refilled. Usually the fire won.”
  • On a new political party: “To take sides against the Democrats, a new party was formed in 1832. This party took the name of Whigs. Please don’t ask why. The name ‘Whig’ died in 1860. And ‘Republican’ took its place. That is a much nicer name.”

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I’ll be posting on this subject again soon, but here’s a timely parting shot.

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  • “In the years of prosperity and good times, the people do not make ready for the hard times that sometimes lie ahead. Nothing is put aside for a rainy day. countries and nations are like people. They do not get ready, either. And people and countries never seem to learn this lesson.”

Guess what? The paragraph above was not written about the Great Depression which began with the stock market crash of 1929. It was about the “hard times” America endured from 1837 until 1841, during the term of President Martin Van Buren. Anyone think history doesn’t repeat itself?

Common Ground

If you haven’t seen the National Park Service’s quarterly magazine, Common Ground, you ought to check it out. You can sign up for a free subscription or download the issues for free. (Currently Spring 2009 is on the website, but Fall 2009 has arrrived in the mail.) While I’m in favor of saving trees, this magazine is so beautiful that I’m really glad it’s a print mailing. The articles are always exciting, interesting, different, and accompanied by breathtaking photographs. It is my favorite magazine to receive in the mail.

The NPS deserves more love and attention than we give it, preservationists and non-preservationists. So start by reading to see what great work the NPS does. Go ahead, read it, sign up. You won’t be sorry. You’ll love it. You could call it Preservation in Pink’s idol in some ways, or at least a mentor.

Dreaming of Architecture

A grad school side note: last night I was definitely dreaming of American architecture.  Actually, I’m pretty sure that I was dreaming of studying American architecture. Not exactly a dream, not exactly a nightmare, but I did want some peace from studying! It’s midterm season!

Has anyone read Architecture and the Dream by Craig Whitaker (Three Rivers Press, 1998)?

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It looks like a good read, and received favorable reviews. This New York University professor is also a planner and a landscape architect. The book analyzes American ideals and the built environment. It seems like it’d be right up the alley of Diners, Bowling Alleys, and Trailers Park: Chasing the American Dream in Postwar Consumer Culture by Andrew Hurley, which happens to be one of my all-time favorites.  (And it seems way less frightening than dreaming about architecture.)

Ghost Walk

If you’re in the Fredericksburg, VA area and in the mood for some Halloween fun, head to Market Square in downtown Fredericksburg for the 25th annual Ghost Walk, run and hosted by the University of Mary Washington’s Historic Preservation Club.

Check out the UMW Press Release:

The University of Mary Washington Historic Preservation Club will host the 25th annual Ghost Walk on Friday, October 23 and Saturday, October 24.

The haunted tours of downtown Fredericksburg will leave every 10 minutes from Market Square on the corner of Princess Anne and William streets. The first hour of each night will consist of children’s tours where the ghosts are friendlier, and children are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes and trick-or-treat at each site. Throughout the evening, children’s games and refreshments will be available in Market Square.

The tours run from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday and from 5 to 10 p.m. on Saturday. The hour-and-a-half long tours stop at about a dozen sites throughout historic Fredericksburg, including the Masonic Cemetery, Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop and Kenmore Plantation. Members of the Historic Preservation Club and other UMW students act out stories based on the book “The Ghosts of Fredericksburg and Other Environs” by L.B. Taylor Jr.

Reservations are highly recommended and can be made in advance by email at umwghostwalk@gmail.com, or tickets can be purchased the night of the tour at Market Square. The cost is $6 for adults and $4 for children age 13 and under. Children age 5 and under are free. A group rate of $5 per person is available for 10 or more people. For more information or to register, call the Historic Preservation Club at (540) 654-1315.

News release prepared by Megan Eichenberg

Ghost Walk is always fun, for the actors, the tour guides, and the guests. Tour guides, actors, and organizers are all UMW students. It’s a huge event in the community. In 2004 and 2005, I was a co-chair for Ghost Walk and the event remains one of my favorite Preservation Club memories. Ghost Walk is definitely worth your time and it’s a fun way to learn some area history. Wear good walking shoes!

December 2009

Preservation in Pink contributors: writers, artists, photographers: start considering what you  would like to contribute to the December 2009 newsletter. The deadline will be mid December and it will be out at the end of December.

Travels, preservation news, issues, ethics, days on the job, anecdotes, all subjects relating to historic preservation are welcome! If you have an idea, let me know! If you’re a first contributor, check out the previous newsletters to get a feel for Preservation in Pink.

More to come.

Not a Flamingo

But an emu… seen on Vermont Barn Census adventures.

It looked mean. They were organized. We left.

It looked mean. There was more than one. They were organized. We left.

Preservation Photos #4

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Townshend, VT

The interior of an agricultural building in need of tremendous repair, found along the backroads of Townshend, VT.

Historic Windows

It’s that time of year; the temperature drops at night, your house feels drafty, and around mid-October the heat turns on (unless you’re way down south). You wonder why your house is so cold and how you can make it warmer. Everywhere you read about new energy efficient windows and you consider replacing your windows.

Before you replace those historic wood windows, STOP! Your house is not losing its heat through windows; but rather, mainly through the roof and uninsulated walls. Keep those historic beauties in their frames! And if you have windows with real muntins and individual window panes, then you definitely have something worthwhile. The cost of replacing your historic window could take 100 years to make up for its cost.

Don’t believe me? Check out the Historic Windows Resource Page from Preservation North Carolina, and pay special attention to the NCPTT Testing the Energy Performance of Wood Windows in Cold Climates report and the replacement cost calculator from Historic Omaha. Note that it will take 41 years for the windows to pay for themselves!

Okay and aside from cost, we have to recognize the aesthetic value of historic windows and the historic value of these windows. Once removed, it is a part of the building that is gone forever. Windows are a very important part of architectural style. Take a look at this brief slideshow from the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota titled, “Historic Wood Windows: Why They Matter and How to Save Them.” Lastly, for a thorough review of why to retain and maintain historic windows, answers to your questions, window vocabulary, and resources, see the National Trust’s Window Tip Sheet. For repair information see Preservation Brief 9: The Repair of Historic Wood Windows from the NPS.

Do your research before believing the gimmicks of “energy efficient” window manufacturers and sellers. After all, they WANT you to replace your windows.