Historic Sites, Modern Dilemmas

The collision of historic sites and the need for modern amenities is certainly not a new topic, yet it remains in relevant discussions about historic preservation and heritage stewardship. I’d like to continue that discussion and hear comments from others.

Where is the line between accommodating present visitors and maintaining the historic atmosphere? How much can you “get away with” on either side of the line, and how much is appropriate? By our American standards, insurance, and regulations, buildings (including historic sites) require up-to-code utilities and parking and accessibility modifications. It is our understanding that these amenities attract visitors, perhaps even those who are not typical historic site goers. At the same time, it is also our subjective opinion that telephone wires, parking lots and 21st century vehicles terribly detract from the setting and feeling of the historic site and landscape. Yet, we cannot have a profitable site without modern amenities. We need them. What do we have here, but a Catch-22 situation?

The question is: how do we enjoy our significant heritage sites while protecting their historic integrity at the same time? It is a very fine line, because change happens in unnoticeable increments. Before long, the site or building could look completely different. A few generations from now, preservation professionals may wonder just what we thought we were doing.

As to successfully integrating historic and modern, is the problem our perception? Maybe when we think of historic and modern, we should be thinking of it as a continuum of time rather than having a distinct boundary. The past connects us to our ancestors; it doesn’t separate us from them. Though, do we like historic sites as a way to step out of the present? Do we often perceive historic sites as removed from the present? So perhaps the problem lies wherein we begin to separate the past and the present too much, which creates that bubble of nostalgia. But, is there a proper way to look at history? If so, who gets to determine the etiquette? Of course, there are appropriate and inappropriate methods for presenting history, but how someone considers it is an entirely different subject.

Consider parking lots again, in terms of perception. If you are looking at photographs of a historic site from, say, the 1940s, do you find the cars less obtrusive than those in a picture from 1990 or 2000? Pretend it is an early nineteenth-century historic house. Are you losing the historic feeling with the cars nearby? If not, is that because the 1940s are further removed from us and therefore, more believable as historic? Does 1990 seem like it will ever be historic? Of course it will, but it seems strange to think that, doesn’t it? And if the cars bother you no matter what the decade, why, do you suppose, has no one figured out how to integrate the clashing cultures?

Let’s take a step back. An important distinction, which I’ve yet to make in this post, is between historic properties that are museums and historic properties such as your house on the National Register. Both are significant, but have very different audiences and purposes. Excuse the generalization, but I will simplify the distinction to museums and non-museums.  Museums will exist in their own bubble of history, whereas non-museums must be incorporated into their surroundings.  Thus, there will be more restrictions on museum environments and more give-and-take outside of the non-museum world, of course. Non-museums, those that aren’t public buildings, are not subject to all amenity requirements.

But, distinction aside, how much “interference” of modern amenities is too much and how much is acceptable? Should there be cases in which nothing modern is introduced? And then, do we run the risk of ostracizing our sites because they are not welcoming to present day visitors? Is our view of historic sites entirely an American point of view?

Some more questions for thought: Have you been to historic sites that are sorely lacking in welcoming amenities or sites where the line has been crossed and integrity harmed? Parking lots may be the biggest offenders, but how can we visit sites without them – at least in this autocentric country? How can we train ourselves and each other to see time as more of a continuum, one that blends past and present?

This remains an important topic of discussion because historic preservationists often get accused of preventing progress and disliking change, when really we carefully consider what is appropriate change. Of course we cannot be opposed to progress; that’s ridiculous. Our existence is part of the world’s progress, if you will think so boldly. Preservationists recognize that change without thought is careless and results in a negative quality of life. Thus, we must be alert as to what to protect and what to adapt with the rest of progress. If every site accepts all aspects of modern amenities, how will we know how it used to be?

Your turn: what do you think of the collision between historic sites and modern amenities? Ramble on.

Elgin Springs House

The Elgin Springs House in Panton, Vermont was built ca. 1845 by architect James Gorham. Originally a Classic Cottage, the Greek Revival addition (right) was built ca. 1850. Owner Solomon Allen and his son, Hiram, started an enterprise focused on the supposed medicinal qualities of nearby Elgin Springs. Guests to this boarding house/inn were encouraged to drink from a spring on a nearby hill, which would “purify blood.”

The Elgin Springs House in Panton, Vermont.

The book, New England: A Handbook for Travellers by Moses Foster Stewart (1875) writes of Elgin Springs, “About 3 miles south of Vergennes are fine cascades of Otter Creek, near which is the Elgin Spring (small hotel) containing sulphates [sic] of magnesia, iron, and soda, and carbonates of soda and lime” (page 184).

Closer view from the road.

South side of the house.

The Vermont State Historic Sites & Structures Survey recorded this house in 1977. At that it had already been abandoned and was identified as threatened. Now, 34 years later, the house sits abandoned and seems to facing demolition by neglect. As to the reasoning and its fate? I’ve only heard in passing that it’s caught up in a family matter.

Front of the house.

The poor, poor house.

Front door.

For those interested, yes, there is a “Keep Out/No Trespassing” sign. These pictures were taken from the road. And, of course, I love this house.

Historical information obtained from The Historic Architecture of Addison County: Vermont State Register of Historic Places, published by the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation (1992).

Kathleen Harriman Mortimer

Today the New York Times ran the obituary of a woman named Kathleen Harriman Mortimer, the daughter of W. Averell Harriman.

Kathleen Harriman Mortimer, 1946. Source: NY Times February 21, 2011. Click for original source.

Kathleen Mortimer died at age 93 at her home in Arden, NY.  Throughout the course of her life she was journalist, a United States ambassador to Moscow, traveled with her father abroad to important political events such as the Yalta conference, among many other accomplishments.

The obituary caught my attention because of my association with Mrs. Mortimer from my days of Overhills Oral History research. The Harriman family had a cottage on Overhills property; Averell Harriman, along with Percy Rockefeller, were important figures in the 1910s and 1920s of Overhills history.  Kathleen and her sister visited Overhills when they were babies and toddlers. You can see a picture of Averell Harriman and his daughters on the Harriman Cottage porch on page 109 of the Overhills book (Arcadia Publishing, 2008).

I spoke with Kathleen Mortimer on the phone a few times throughout 2006-2009 about her brief time at Overhills. She sounded like a classy, interesting woman. At the time, I had no idea of her impressive life adventures. It was honor to speak with her. I extend my sympathies to the Harriman and Mortimer families on their loss of Kathleen.

February Thaw Notes

I hope it’s sunny where you are today; what’s more beautiful than a sunny Friday? It’s rainy and cloudy in the Lake Champlain Valley, but it’s going to be over 50 degrees — that’s practically the middle of spring. Spring fever, anyone? Old Man Winter will be back tomorrow, however.  Whatever your Friday looks like, I hope you’re happy, loving your job or your studies, and appreciating the historic and modern environments in which we all live.

A question for all readers:

Are you a member of a preservation organization? How about a young preservationists group? A school sponsored preservation club? I’m interested to know the range of groups and their missions, however small or larger. If you could leave a comment below or email me at preservationinpink@gmail.com, with information about your group, I’d appreciate it. Thank you!

And an important note from the news: our time for preservation advocacy and activism is becoming more important than ever. If you’ve read Preservation Nation lately, you’ve seen that President Barack Obama has proposed cutting critical preservation funding in his budget. A snippet from the article by Margaret Foster:

Yesterday, President Obama sent his 2012 budget proposal to Capitol Hill, delivering a painful blow to preservationists: Two federal grant programs, Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America, were eliminated, slashing the Historic Preservation Fund by 23 percent. Other sources for historic preservation were also cut severely. Funding for National Heritage Areas was reduced by half. And the National Park Service’s construction budget, the account that funds maintenance on historic structures, took a 35 percent hit.

National Trust President Stephanie Meeks was “profoundly disappointed by the cuts in historic preservation funding,” she said in a statement yesterday. “By choosing to eliminate this critical [Save America’s Treasures] program, the Administration is abandoning the federal government’s primary role as stewards of our history. Viewed as a piece of the overall budget, this program is obviously miniscule. … Without adequate funding, we will lose many of the important places that help us understand who we are as a nation.”

Chin up, preservationists — we’re used to uphill battles.  Follow the issue of preservation funding at Preservation Nation.

And a random note: are you a Twitter user? For me, it’s all Preservation in Pink blog posts that are sent to twitter, and not much else from here, but sometimes Twitter is a good way to catch preservation news that I’ve missed across the blogosphere and other places. Should PiP be following you? Let me know!

Have a great weekend.

Field Trip: Gimbel Corner in Vincennes, Indiana

Information and pictures sent in by Maria Burkett.

318 NE corner of Main and 2nd Streets. Photograph by Maria Burkett.

I went to the very sad town of Vincennes, Indiana a few weeks ago and photographed the buildings here (in the project area) it is located on the corner of Main and N. Second Streets and is called Gimbel Corner. Think Gimbels Department Store from Miracle on 34th Street. Around before Macy’s Department Store, Gimbels is credited with the oldest  Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Old Gimbel Corner, Vincennes, Indiana. Photograph by Maria Burkett

The very first Gimbels opened in Vincennes, Indiana, formed by Adam Gimbel,  a Jewish Bavarian immigrant who started out as a pack-peddler in 1842 and opened the first store as dry goods in 1857.  Gimbel moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and opened a large, successful department store in 1887. In the 1890s, Gimbels grew to Philadelphia and in the early 1900s, to New York City.

 

Photograph by Maria Burkett.

 

The short version of the ending is: after merging and being bought by other companies, Gimbels closed in 1987.

You can read more about Gimbels from the Milwaukee County Historical Society. Or at the Department Store Museum blog. The only source with lots of information seems to be the Wikipedia Gimbels article — without citations — does anyone have a good online source for Gimbels history?

 

Photograph by Eric Fischer on Flickr. Click for original source.

Also, to explore Vincennes, Indiana, check out this flickr set by Eric Fischer. Vincennes seems so sad, but with so much potential, don’t you think? Scan through the photos and you’ll see that there is some kitschy roadside architecture around Vincennes. What a great combination!

 

Preservation Photos #71

Charleston, SC. Photo taken April 2007 by Kaitlin O'Shea.

I love winter and the north, but today something about the warm southern weather and early spring is calling me. How about you?

Preservation Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Vintage Valentine from West Virginia University Libraries. Click for original source.

Need some history about Valentine’s Day? It’s not exactly created by the greeting card industry, as some cynics declare. Buying and sending valentines in the United States became popular in the mid 1800s, with the ingenuity of Esther Howland, who handmade the earliest valentines out of imported lace and floral decorations and ribbons. She is known as the mother of the Valentine.

However, valentines have a long history before Esther Howland. The American Antiquarian Society (AAS) has an online exhibit called Making Valentines: A Tradition in America with information about Valentine’s Day (mostly about the creation of valentines/cards in the United States). Although it’s on a date webpage with some broken image links, it’s a fun, worthwhile read.

For history on the creation of the day itself, visit History.com. It includes this information:

The history of Valentine’s Day — and its patron saint — is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor’s daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It’s no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Vintage valentine from West Virginia University Libraries. Click for original source.

How many of you send Valentine’s Day cards to your friends and family? Remember giving cards in elementary school and receiving treats? Who doesn’t love those little message hearts?

Sending some preservation love your way. I hope you have a lovely day!

Modern handmade flamingo card found on Capadia Designs. Click for original source.

A Life in the Trades: February 2011

Series introduction. October 2009. November 2009. December 2009. January 2010. February 2010. March 2010. April 2010. May 2010. June 2010. September 2010. October 2010. November 2010. December 2010.

By Nicholas Bogosian

A New Beginning

Coolidge Architects in Topeka, Kansas started giving hints that there could be layoffs.  The year was 1988.  Dave Mertz, then twenty-eight-years-old and married with two young kids, was perusing job listings in the back of the PRESERVATION newspaper put out by the National Trust.  He applied to three.  The position as Architectural Division Director for the statewide West Virginia Main Street Program looked promising, all except for a recent indictment of Gov. Arch A. Moore, Jr. and the threat of more job cuts.  Steve Meridian, past President of Belmont Technical College in St. Clairsville, OH called.  Mertz had applied for Director of a new historic preservation program there, but hadn’t heard any word until now.

“It is evident that other countries concerned with historic preservation are far ahead of the United States in providing for the conservation of craft skills.  Czechoslovakia, for example, has a national system of craft centers supported by the government for this purpose.  Japan, by law officially recognizes certain skilled craftsmen or groups of practitioners of early skills as “intangible cultural monuments” important to the life of the whole nation.” Whitehill Report of 1967

Bob Ney, Ohio State Senator, appropriated $300,000 to Belmont Tech for a new program.  It was Meridian’s idea for creating a two-year historic preservation program.  In an early interview, Mertz pointed out to Meridian that the program should be trades-related; otherwise two-year graduates of a purely academic preservation program wouldn’t stand a chance against students with Master’s Degrees of a similar study.

While Mertz was in grad school at Kansas State receiving his M.Arch in Architecture with an emphasis in Historic Preservation, he had the opportunity to teach undergraduate drafting classes as well as architectural studios.  “That’s where I fell in love with the teaching aspect.”

Meridian saw that Mertz had a true vision for the program.  He was offered the position, and he accepted.  For the next four months he worked on developing the curriculum, ordering tools and equipment, ordering books, restructuring space to accommodate lab classes, and promoting the program to local news stations and high schools.  Belmont Tech initially saw the Building Preservation & Restoration [BPR] program’s demographic as older students that were recently laid off from their job, but Mertz questioned, “Why aren’t we recruiting high school kids?”  Both saw the program as an opportunity to provide the local valley with skilled labor, but neither could have conceived at this time of the national thirst for preservation craftsmen.  By the summer of 1989, twenty local students had signed up for the first quarter.  Classes began.

Some would have argued that the BPR program was ahead of its time in fulfilling a specific need in trades education, but John Fugelso had conceived of a two year hands-on preservation program at Durham Technical Institute in North Carolina over a decade prior to Belmont Tech’s.  The stars hadn’t quite aligned, though, for the public’s grasping of the whole idea of building preservation training at a trades level.  The Durham program lasted only a couple of years.

A Rare Breed

While at Coolidge Architects, Mertz realized that it didn’t matter what a designer wanted on paper.  The skilled craftspeople available dictated whether a design was feasible.  “BPR is a technical program…it exposes you to all sorts of things – it allows you to find yourself.  To become a craftsman takes decades.  This is the first step in a long journey,” says Mertz.  “…as late as the nineteenth-century, the construction trades were considered highly desirable fields which required manual dexterity, critical thinking skills and advanced technical knowledge.  This array of skills attracted highly qualified apprentices who were academically proficient and career driven.”

BPR students re-glaze window sashes. Courtesy of Nicholas Bogosian.

Then things started going downhill.  In the second half of the nineteenth-century, higher education in America became an instrument of upward mobility for many.  Though this may have been a beacon of opportunity for those wishing to make such a transition, it set in motion a trend which has become a national epidemic.

“Our testaments to physical work are so often focused on the values such work exhibits rather than on the thought it requires. It is a subtle but pervasive omission…. It is as though in our cultural iconography we are given the muscled arm, sleeve rolled tight against biceps, but no thought bright behind the eye, no image that links hand and brain.” Mike Rose, The Mind at Work

A recent documentary Race to Nowhere brings the epidemic into bright light.  Many students today are pressured on all sides to become successful.  White-collar success is the rule.  Parents don’t want their kids to have to “toil” with their hands.  Students feel a sense of ruination if they don’t get into the college that is going to set them for life.

“Today, students who struggle academically or who are socially maladjusted are often pushed into high school vocational programs.  This influx of under-prepared and often unmotivated class of students, along with the shift to assembly-like construction practices during the post-war building boom, has led to the “dumbing” of the trades,” (Mertz[i])

BPR student, Hilarie Manion, conducts paint research. Courtesy of Nicholas Bogosian.

It is precisely the preservation activity in the past thirty years that has been the force which is bringing about a revision and reawakening of the tradesman’s place in American society.  Present-day craftspeople which harbor the jewels of historic building trade skills are a rare breed.  They are a breed which various organizations and leaders within the preservation movement have begun to reproduce in various education experiments.  To attract academically and manually proficient students that the preservation trades require, a work has begun to legitimize the trades once again.

The Experiment

The first International Trades Education Symposium [ITES] took place at Belmont Technical College in 2005.  More than seventy-five preservation trades people and educators from around the world came together under the common understanding that the future of our built environment is under imminent threat.  Projected shortages of trades people is alarming.  America is not the only victim; it is an international problem.

“PTN [Preservation Trades Network] formed the concept of the International Trades Education Initiative in 2004 when it became clear that an important part of PTN’s educational mandate was to provide an opportunity for networking the people involved in the process of creating and sustaining programs that provide education in the trades worldwide.” Rudy Christian, Executive Director of PTN[ii]

If the apprenticeship model carried on a legitimate craft force in the past, today the trades are being legitimized and propelled at the collegiate level.  “The more programs, the better.  The more there are, the more legitimate the whole idea of it becomes,” says Mertz.

The BPR Program, similar to the hands-on preservation programs at College of the Redwoods in Eureka, CA and The American College of the Building Arts in Charleston, SC, bridges preservation theory and preservation practice.  By gaining an understanding of preservation history, law, and economics, the student can have a better framework by which to base their implementation decisions.  By gaining an understanding of building pathology and material sciences, the student can diagnose the root cause of building problems rather than make narrow-minded and wasteful repairs.  The student is also prepared to gauge meaning and significance in the material world by studying architectural history and research/documentation methodologies.

BPR student, Renata Bruza, in the BPR library. Courtesy of Nicholas Bogosian.

Eventually, though, the student must step away from the textbooks and put on their Practitioner helmet.  They must evaluate the problem before them, consider all the variables, and eventually make an informed decision of what to do about it.  Jon Smith, superintendent of Allegheny Restoration in Morgantown, WV, teaches the field lab class every Friday for the BPR Program.  Students work on actual historic sites doing everything from structural repairs to Dutchmans to lime slaking and soldering.  In the field labs it is all about developing your technique; whether it’s gauging the consistency of mortar as it hangs from the trowel or hand chiseling mortises and tenons for heavy timber joinery.

Jon Smith & BPR Students at the Swaney House in Morristown, OH. Courtesy of Nicholas Bogosian.

An Era of Change

The National Council for Preservation Education (NCPE) was instituted as an organizing body of academic programs around the country.  In order to be included in this body of programs, certain standards must be met.  Through NCPE, prospective students can identify preservation programs around the country which have specialties that interest them.  Michael Tomlan, president of NCPE in the early nineties and current Director of Cornell’s Graduate Program in Historic Preservation Planning, was instrumental in creating PreserveNet – an extension of NCPEs database.  PreserveNet keeps a regularly updated listing of preservation resources, internships, jobs, field schools, and scholarships.

“…NCPE acknowledged the need to foster historic preservation education in public primary, secondary, and technical schools (K-12).  However, their organizational infrastructure comprised exclusively of post secondary educators limited their practical contribution to the development of curricula at these “primary” levels…There are only a handful of educational institutions that confer degrees with an emphasis in historic preservation building arts, craft, and construction related skills…less than fourteen percent of our educational institution capacity is oriented toward these practitioner skill sets.” Robert W. Ogle, Dir. of Colorado Mountain College Preservation Program[iii]

Originally, NCPEs academic institution database included only Graduate and Four Year programs.  In the mid-nineties, two year programs like Belmont Tech’s were not yet considered a legitimate training mode.  But Michael Tomlan had a different perspective.  “He understood the value of a community college education in how it related to finding you work,” says Mertz.  Tomlan changed the format to allow for a two-year program and quickly encouraged Mertz to run for Chair of NCPE.  Mertz was elected Chair in 1998 and completed a four year term.  Suddenly new doors opened for the BPR Program and trades education initiatives.  Mertz became the new voice of trades education development and found himself sitting in Dick Moe’s office at the National Trust and consulting new programs developing around the country.

Dave Mertz & student Cori McMillan installing a dead-man in a structural stabilization effort. Courtesy of Nicholas Bogosian.

Over the years, the BPR Program gained momentum.  Eventually students started arriving from out of state.  What may have been a degree for the out-of-work or the high school graduate started becoming secondary training for students already having undergraduate and graduate degrees.  A local venture suddenly turned into a national commodity.  “What I didn’t realize early on was how badly these people were needed on a national level.”

Beauty and Dignity

“From the very beginning, at Tuskegee, I was determined to have the students do not only the agricultural and domestic work, but to have them erect their own buildings.  My plan was to have them, while performing this service, taught the latest and best methods of labour, so that the school would not only get the benefit of their efforts, but the students themselves would be taught to see not only utility in labour, but beauty and dignity, would be taught, in fact, how to lift labour up from mere drudgery and toil, and would learn to love work for its own sake.” Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery

He [Mertz] pauses.  “Nothing has changed in twenty-one years.  I have a paternal responsibility to every student.”  There is a litany of names; names of students past.  His pride for their achievements is palpable.  He casually mentions them in class, in lab, in late night conversations.  I have learned them myself.

“Nobody wants to work for a living anymore.  There’s a sense of entitlement.  Our parents are largely responsible for that – they want the kid to be a “professional” so they can earn the “big bucks,” and people complain that you can’t get into the dentist, doctor, or get your car fixed anymore.”

Students don’t always come to BPR to begin their journey as preservation craftspeople.  Many graduate to become economic developers, preservation consultants, architectural historians, or administrative personnel at state preservation offices.  Mertz wishes there were a through-line in all the stories of students that have decided to enter the field, but everyone’s story is unique.  If there were a particular type of person with a particular set of interests, marketing for trades education might hit more directly.

BPR instructor, Cathie Senter. Courtesy of Nicholas Bogosian.

As a student of the BPR program, I can see now that the diversity of skills gained here can open doors to so many avenues of the complex and interdisciplinary field we call Historic Preservation.  In a world where hard work has been equated to “mere drudgery,” I am proud to be entering a profession which challenges that belief on every front and is restoring not only our built environment but also the beauty and dignity of our work.


[i] Mertz, David.  “Shifting Sands:  Why We Are Where We Are and Where We Are Going.  Papers from the International Trades Education Symposium.  2009: Preservation Trades Network, Inc.

[ii] www.iptw.org.  Feb. 3, 2011.

[iii] Ogle, Robert W.  “Historic Preservation Craft Education Leads the Way: The Colorado Story.” http://www.iptw.org/rogle-ites07.htm.  Feb. 3, 2011.

Rose, Mike.  “The Mind at Work.”  Viking: 2004.

Washington, Booker T.  Three Negro Classics.  “Up From Slavery.”  Avon Books:  1965.

The Whitehill Report:  http://www.iptw.org/whitehill-home.htm.

Fred the Flamingo

Fred the Flamingo, a large, pink, free-standing (not quite a stuffed animal) was introduced to us by Elyse and became the traveling mascot for us flamingo girls, delighting us to no end. First introductions were priceless. Who exactly expects to see such a large free-standing (not quite a stuffed animal) flamingo hanging around? The first time I met Fred, I think my mouth dropped — there he was, just standing there. A (somewhat) life size pink flamingo? What could be better? From then on, Fred was one of the flock.

Fred & me, at our first meeting in Abingdon, VA, March 2009.

Sadly, Fred the Flamingo has moved on to greener (pinker?) pastures. I’ll spare you any sad details. Instead, I’ll share some of Fred’s finer photographed moments with the flamingo girls.

Me, Elyse, Missy & Fred after Missy's engagement party.

Attack of the flamingo? Kidding!

Fred hanging out with Pip.

Fred all dressed up for a wedding. Nice tie.

Where are the rest of the flamingo girls? They somehow evaded the pictures — well, Fred was at the pre-wedding party for this picture, but only in spirit at the actual wedding & reception:

More flamingos and our flamingo table card. {Insert Fred in the background.}

You had to see Fred to believe it.

Point being? We’ll miss you, Fred! We’re silly, yes. But we have a good time. Why the name Fred? It must be because Mary Washington is in Fredericksburg.