Month: May 2011
Flamingo on Flickr
You may have noticed that there is now a Flickr widget on the sidebar (scroll down a bit if you can’t see it) on Preservation in Pink. Originally, I planned to jump on the Flick bandwagon and share pictures of beautiful architecture and scenic landscape as I was on the go (oh, the wonders of a smart phone — I’m new to that bandwagon, too). However, try as hard as I might, and my phone photography skills are no match for an actual camera.
Before I could stop myself, my new little flamingo was appearing in lots of pictures. Added encouragement from others, who shall remain nameless, and I decided that Flickr would likely be an outlet for flamingo pictures. Consider the traveling gnome… only I have a cute, fluffy traveling flamingo.
His name? Mr. Stilts. (I cannot take credit for the name. Thanks go to Brennan.) Also, a big thank you to my sister Erin who gave me the flamingo for my birthday.
Check out the sidebar and Flickr every so often and you’re sure to find architecture and landscape – with a fluffy flamingo jumping in the way. Pardon my inexperience with Flickr tabs and what not – I’ll get there.
Abandoned Vermont: Log Cabin Motel
Sitting on the side of VT Route 107, just outside Stockbridge, VT
I cannot find any information on this motel — how long it’s been abandoned or even any old contact information about it.
New Series: Abandoned Vermont
Today launches a new series of posts at Preservation in Pink: “Abandoned Vermont.” The first in the series will be published this morning. You’ll notice that the menu bar at the top of the page (below the PiP logo) now has an “Abandoned Vermont” option. Click it to read about the series and to find the index to the posts.
If you have suggestions of locations to be included or would like to share your own Abandoned Vermont photographs, you are more than welcome. Consider it an open invitation.
Preservation Photos #85
The schoolhouse faces the East Poultney Village Green. To listen to part of the East Poultney walking audio tour, click here and then click on the “1896 schoolhouse.” The short audio clip (2:23) discusses the context of the building’s history and architecture. The schoolhouse functioned as a school until 1966. What a great online resource! Download the audio clips to take them on the go.
The Upside of Interstates
The Eisenhower Interstate System began in June 1956, and changed the American landscape and culture forever. For much of my preservation life, I have only thought of the negative side of the interstate system. Interstates bypassed small town America, fueled sprawl, encouraged poorly designed developments at exits … basically everything that ruined America. Need a small town America sob story? Watch the Pixar movie Cars. It tugs at my preservation heart strings and makes the interstate the devil.
Driving up and down I-95 never helped, either. It is not a pretty interstate, particularly between New York and Virginia. The only positive associations I had associated with the interstate were the entertaining billboards for South of the Border and Ron Jon’s in Cocoa Beach, FL. However, while they were entertaining, they certainly did not help the scenery. Driving through Virginia and the Carolinas always showed glimpses towns that seemed to be split by the interstates — houses and old town centers just sitting on the side of the road.
My opinion of the interstate began to change in 2006 when I took a road trip with my mom and sister. We drove across South Dakota on I-90 and loved every bit of it. Yes, there were many billboards (think Wall Drug!) but we loved the drive because of the new scenery and big Midwestern sky. Still, I knew what the interstates did to towns across America. There is no denying that small towns suffered and died and the pace of American life grew faster. We all changed. My opinion of the interstate was quite complicated by now, as I had traveled on the decommissioned Route 66 and read the harrowing effects of the interstates.
I recall driving from Southern Pines, NC out to Wilmington, NC and passing through “future corridors” of an interstate. A slow country highway was going be an interstate even though we seemed to be in the middle of nowhere and these little crossroad towns would be forgotten. It hurt to think about. So, in general, I did my best to avoid the interstates – especially on road trips.
But, then I moved to Vermont. Our interstates do not have billboards. I-89 is beautiful, scenic and green. There is barely any traffic and I love driving on I-89. Once I started working on project reviews with the Agency of Transportation, I began to understand the benefit of interstates. This high speed road allows people to work far away from where they live. Vermont is a small state and some drive 75 miles each way. On the interstate, that’s not much more than a one hour drive — an easy one hour drive without traffic. This enables me to visit project sites, as well.
The biggest realization and change in my interstate opinion is that while interstates funnel much of the traffic away from village centers, they are also protecting the smaller state roads. In Vermont, many of our small towns have building directly adjacent to the road — practically on the road. Increased traffic often means upgraded safety standards, which equates to widening the roadways. If every state highway or smaller road had to be widened, then these buildings would be in the footprint of the road and severely affected or demolished. And yes, the interstate system did cause destruction to the landscape and cultural resources, it is important to keep in mind that as preservationists we are also managing present actions with respect to the future. Thus, protecting the existing resources is important, and the interstates help in their own manner. For those who are commuting, the interstate is often the best route of transit; whereas we hope that travelers take the “blue highways” and appreciate the historic and cultural assets of Vermont.
My complicated feelings about the interstate will continue. How about you?
Good resources for history of the interstate system are FHWA – Eisenhower Interstate System and the Interstate Highway System in Tennessee.
I hope your Saturday is as lovely as these images from historic Pittsfield, Vermont.
Have a great weekend!
Another Roadside Quiz: New or Not?
Running in the Evening Light
In the wintertime I wrote about running in the cold, dark evenings: quiet, solitary spans of time that allowed me to catch glimpses of the interiors of the beloved historic houses. The yellow glow of lights provided that cozy feeling; each house seemed loved. It is a good reason for loving dark winter nights.
But the cold eventually grows tiresome and I have been more than happy to welcome the fair spring weather. Evenings are still a good time for neighborhood explorations as the sun is not in my eyes and the sidewalk traffic is less. Yesterday while running I realized just how much of the built environment details I have been missing in the winter months. For those months my eyes watched the ground ahead carefully for roots, ice and frost heaves. My eyes were drawn to the parts of buildings that I could see; hence, the interiors and fenestration. But now with all of this daylight and the dry roads and sidewalks my eyes can finally wander again. I can mix up my routes, whereas I had been running on trusted routes – where I knew what was beneath my feet.
I noticed patterned slate roofs, including one I had never before seen. I noticed a beautiful Queen Anne house painted in all brown, desperate for some color. Fences have been painted, trees have been trimmed. Wood storm windows are still in place on many houses, probably until Memorial Day. Tulips are blooming. People are outside enjoying their yards, tending gardens and tackling the ever existing tasks of home ownership.
Thank goodness for the season changes. Every time a new one turns, a different facet of the built environment is highlighted and provides new adventures, stories and thoughts.