Preservation Photos #142

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Vintage playground equipment found in Walterboro, South Carolina.

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Traveling Flamingo Style

It’s a week of travel for Mr. Stilts and Preservation in Pink. Follow along! Happy summer!

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There may have been some preservation work required on this vacation.

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What is a road trip without coffee?

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A flamingo in the sunshine state. One of its natural habitats.

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Complimentary orange juice at the Florida Welcome Center on I-95. A tradition to many.

More to come!

Abandoned Vermont: Weathersfield House

Some abandoned houses are more striking than others, so obviously beautiful that you cannot help but stop and gaze for a while. Others make less of a statement to a passerby, but have a story to tell all the same. And sometimes you come across a house with an odd feeling about it. This house in Weathersfield felt that way to me.

Weathersfield, VT

The side of house – part of the roof has collapsed in the ell.

Cornice returns, intact paired brackets and pilasters accompanied by a large antenna.

An abandoned children’s picnic table makes this story seem even sadder. Also note the detailed porch posts, ending at the bay window on the main block of the house.

Wood windows remain, appearing some shade of green.

What was it about this house that felt eerie or sad? Further gazing revealed that this house falls into the category of those abandoned houses that are simply trashed to pieces, broken and vandalized for no purpose, and essentially left for ruin. A look inside any window could tell you that. And this house had been stripped of its aluminum siding, revealing metallic insulation beneath and clapboards in great condition. Someone methodically removed all of the metal on this house, as if they were leaving on bad terms or knew no one was coming back for the house.

clapboards

almost all stripped, except for a few pieces here and there.

Just a glimpse through the window of the completely trashed house.

What do you make of places like this? Do they strike you the same way? Interestingly enough, this house probably looks much better without its aluminum siding, thereby elevating its visible potential. Thoughts?

Preservation Pop Quiz

The subject of this preservation pop quiz is historic architecture & reading buildings. So, to begin, how would you describe this building?  Need a refresher on building description? Read Preservation Basics No. 3 & No. 4.

Please describe this building. If you’re new to this, try it piece by piece: how many stories, how many bays, materials, fenestration, chimneys … and go from there.

The side of the building.

A first story window.

Now these aren’t ideal images for an entire building description, so just see what you can do with the images provided. Any ideas on dates of construction? Style? I’ll leave it up to you. Have fun.

Preservation Photos #141

The historic truss bridge on Bridge Street in Richmond, VT undergoing the second half of its paint job.

Remember the Red & Green Richmond Truss Bridge? Well, soon it will be all red.

Summer Days

I remember cool summer mornings, waking up to hear my mom watering the garden or cutting cantaloupe in the kitchen, getting us girls ready for the day. We might be heading to the beach that day, which meant we were responsible for finding the pails & shovels, beach blankets, chairs and any other toys we wanted for the day. We’d spend all day at the beach, moving the blanket if the tide came too close, digging holes in the sand, getting covered with sand and salt water. On the way home, near the day’s end, we’d pass around what was left in the jug of lemonade and the bag of pretzels, enjoying our saltiness while Mom drove with the windows open and the radio playing. Or the day might call for staying home and playing the backyard, climbing trees and eating ice pops. Sometimes we’d head to the public library to return our books for new choices, adding to our summer reading program list. Summer evenings were filled with barbecues, gymnastics routines on the front lawn and often ice cream cones while we sat on the front stoop. You could say that we were living the ideal suburban childhood summer, no responsibilities but being a kid in the summertime.

Recently, I’m struck by how far away those childhood summers seem, and wondering what it could possibly feel like to have that again: the imagination of a child and the freedom of days without a to-do list. What wonderful memories; these are the kind that I would like to store in a box and revisit now and then, and maybe someday relive some of those stories.

How do you feel? You have all probably been working for years or decades, beginning as teenagers and continuing through college and now as adults. Summer is different now; generally calmer than other seasons, easier, adventurous. As adults we get to choose where we’ll spend the days and what we’ll do, perhaps visiting places we never did as a child, and trying new things. It’s a different kind of fun, but perhaps one that is easier to recall and store in our memories, since adulthood is longer than childhood.

So I ask, how do you keep your childhood memories dear? Have you written them or keep them only in your memory? Do you return to your childhood home? Perhaps you relive your childhood through your children. Or maybe every so often something triggers a memory that you didn’t remember. Maybe it’s a certain way the breeze feels, or the smell of low tide or seeing kids racing around the block on bicycles. Regardless of how often you think of your childhood summers, or how you choose to remember them, I hope they are thought of fondly.

For my sisters: the side beach in Point Lookout.

Abandoned Vermont: Chelsea House

The town common of Chelsea, VT is lined with historic residences and civic buildings, making it the sort of place where you picture farmers’ markets, kids playing, festivals and good small town American life. Yet, there’s an anomaly sitting on the edge of this green – something you not expect to find within an active village or historic district.

This house in Chelsea faces the town common.

View from the side of the house.

Second floor window.

The gutter is partially intact.

A view into the house from the front window.

What do you make of this? It’s a beautiful large house sitting on the edge of a town common, surrounded by well-kept buildings. This building isn’t exactly abandoned; as I found out, the next door neighbor owns this house. Over the years he had neither the financial means nor desire to maintain this house, and does not plan to.

So the question for discussion that comes from this edition of Abandoned Vermont is: what do you do when there is a historic building in your town (historic district or not) owned by someone who refuses to cooperate in conversation about the importance of his building?   Are there cases in which you have to just let it go? When do you reach that point?

Preservation Pop Quiz: The A/C Question

Still hot where you live? It certainly is here in Vermont. So, let’s revisit Friday’s pop quiz, which asked you to describe the issues in this image:

The comments seemed to focus on the architectural conservation issues and maintenance problems of the over-the-door air conditioning unit. While those are all good points, it wasn’t exactly what this question was getting at. It was meant more in the vein of this post about air conditioner units in the window of historic houses. If you missed it over the weekend, here is the second image to help you with your answer.

Less drastic than the first example, perhaps, but the same issue remains.

In this image, the air conditioning units are at least screened rather than exposed. Does that help? Without maintenance issues, what is really going on with air conditioning units installed in doorways? Think about it for a second. Doorways often have sidelights and transoms, yes?

These air conditioning units are installed in the place of the transom. The glass transoms are so often removed in favor of the units. So often they are not concealed like the first image; but, even in the second image, they are still visible to anyone who is looking.

In other words, there is a loss of architectural integrity on many storefronts. We often talk about the downside of replacing windows, but how often do we mention doorways? Frequently entrances are altered to meet modern building codes, which sadly can be a devastating change to fenestration. Architectural integrity aside, when has an air conditioning unit ever been attractive? It never seems like a friendly way to greet customers (and the stability, or lack thereof, seems to worry many of you, based on the comments!).  Obviously, this is a preservation pet peeve of mine. It might be one of yours now, too.

What are the other options aside from installing air conditioners in the transom? Are there none, or is it just the easiest thing to do?

Preservation Pop Quiz

Happy summer and happy heat wave for many of us. In the spirit of our summer environment, here is another pop quiz.

Please identify what is going on in this picture. Also, what are potential problems with it?

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Pop Quiz – what’s this? What do you think of it? Why?

More examples coming later today, if needed.  Enjoy!