Preservation Photos #165

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   The New Haven Congregational Church in New Haven, VT, constructed 1929 after the 1890 structure was destroyed by fire. The architectural style can be described as Ne0-Gothic. It was designed and built by Clinton Smith, a well known architect in Addison County. 

Facade Additions

Additions to historic buildings are required, by the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, to be sympathetic to and compatible with the existing building. Standard #9 is written as such:

New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction will not destroy historic materials, features, and spatial relationships that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and will be compatible with the historic materials, features, size, scale and proportion, and massing to protect the integrity of the property and its environment.

Standard #10 is written as such:

New additions and adjacent or related new construction will be undertaken in a such a manner that, if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.

With proper consideration and consultation, a good addition is usually possible. However, sometimes, you’ll come across a building that completely violates all forms and any thoughts of a good addition. Often, this will be an addition on the facade (the front of a building). Sometimes you won’t even realize that there is another building behind it. Take these examples:

Barre Street in Montpelier, VT.

Barre Street in Montpelier, VT. There is an Italianate building behind that storefront addition.

Main Street in Montpelier, VT.

Main Street in Montpelier, VT. There is a small house behind that long front addition.

What do you think? Are facade additions ever appropriate? Considering how much of survey & determination of eligibility is based on the appearance of the street facade, it’s hard to imagine a good facade addition.

Sunday Churches

Churches are often photographed for Preservation in Pink, so here’s a good round up of beautiful architecture for good thoughts from all seasons.

A New Foundation: Vergennes Railroad Depot

Back in October, the Vergennes Railroad Depot was moved via hydraulic jacks to rest in its new home, adjacent to the Ferrisburgh Park & Ride (which is just over the Vergennes/Ferrisburgh town line on Vermont Route 22A).

On the move in October 2012.

Since then the depot has been set on a foundation and rehabilitation work is well underway. Here are a few images for an update. One thing to know about the depot is that it is now on the opposite side of the tracks, however, the building remains oriented correctly, with the bay windows and semaphore facing the tracks.

Early December 2012.

Early December 2012. This side faces the park & ride.

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Early December 2012. The windows are being restored, and thus are not in place. And check out that new concrete foundation.

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Early December 2012.

And for some updates later in December:

Mid December 2012.

Mid December 2012. Track side. Note the bay window and semaphore.

Mid December 2012.

Mid December 2012. What a sight! The relocation brings much more visibility to the building. Rehabilitation is in progress and the community is excited.

More updates to come. Any good rehabilitation stories to share from your corner of the world?

Miss Mary Mack & Miss Lucy

From the Chicago History Museum via The Library of Congress memory collection. Click for source.

From the Chicago History Museum via The Library of Congress memory collection. Click for source.

Does anyone remember hand rhymes & games from elementary school? You know, the kind you played in the schoolyard. Or maybe you sang them as jump-rope rhymes. My mother, sisters and I were recently discussing “Miss Mary Mack” and “Miss Lucy” and other rhymes. We couldn’t remember the words, so naturally we turned to Google. And wow, are there many crazy versions of these rhymes. We were all intrigued.

We could get as far as “Miss Lucy had a steamboat / the steamboat had a bell / Miss Lucy went to heaven / and the steamboat went to – / hello operator, give me number nine … ” and a few more verses. Remembering the appropriate hand motions was even more difficult. However, I have fond memories of standing in the kindergarten playground and playing these clapping games with my friends.

Recently I came across the British Library’s exhibit of “Playtimes: A Century of Children’s Games and Rhymes” (found via Playscapes) which has a section about clapping games. While traditions might vary from Britain to the United States, this exhibit reads (click to access videos of the games):

Clapping games continue to resonate across modern-day playgrounds. Although they have an earlier history, these games found real popularity in the 1960s, travelling to England from America and filling playgrounds across the country. They can be employed in a number of situations: to pass time while waiting in line, to play with a large circle of friends, or to keep your hands warm on a cold day. Enticingly, they offer the chance to demonstrate to your peers your ability to memorise and enact dazzlingly complicated rhythms and rhymes.  The songs vary in complexity, from basic songs such as ‘A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea’ to hybrid pastiches drawing upon established clapping songs, pop songs, TV shows and actions. The result is a fantastically varied genre of play in a constant state of transition.

Introduction by Michael Rosen.

What other games do you remember? Do you have good sources for reading about playground games? Much research has been completed on playground history and design, but the games that took place within these spaces is a topic just as important.

Building Accessibility

Accessibility to historic buildings is often a necessary code upgrade, not to mention important to insure that everyone can enjoy the building. Inside we see chair lifts on railings, elevators, ramps. On the exterior we see elevator shafts and accessible ramps of all materials and interesting placements. Sometimes a ramp will block the facade or detail of a building. That is not to say that a building should not have a ramp, but perhaps more creative planning would help.

Consider the Leicester Meeting House (1836):

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Leicester, VT. Can you see the ramp? It blends into the landscape. Note the red landscape and the window that was partially converted to a door.

Closer view.

Closer view. See the bridge from the ramp to the building. The railing and the bulkhead doors match.

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Leicester, VT: 1836 Meeting House

What do you think? I think it’s one of my favorite ADA solutions that I’ve seen. The approach to the building on both sides is pleasant and open to the town green, neither the front or side hidden (an ADA entrance should not seem like a secondary entrance).

Preservation ABCs: K is for King Post

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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K is for King Post (Truss)

Pine Brook Bridge in Fayston, VT: A king post truss bridge. Source: Library of Congress. Click for source.

Pine Brook Bridge in Fayston, VT: A king post truss bridge. Source: Library of Congress. Click for source.

A king post is a type of truss, and can refer to building or bridge construction. Being able to identify a truss is an important part of preservation conversation, whether you are working on an architectural description or talking to a contractor or an engineer. As an introduction to trusses, start with an easy one: the king post truss. It is a simple truss and most often used for short spans. Think of it as a triangle. An easy definition of a king post is borrowed from Cyril Harris’ book, American Architecture: an Illustrated Glossary:

A structural support for a roof formed by two inclined rafters joined at the apex of their intersection. A horizontal tie beam connects the rafters their lower ends, and a vertical central member (called the king post) connects the apex with the midpoint of the tie beam. 

See the triangle? This triangle is a truss and can repeat in bridges (then called multiple king post truss) and structures. They are easiest to identify on covered bridges or metal truss bridges or in attics. Take a look next time your passing over a bridge or hanging around an attic.

Got it? You can always jump to the HAER truss poster and dive right into studying.

Mobile App for Historic Resource Survey in Alexandria, VA

Preservationists are moving forward in 2013! Are you looking for a way to help or are you interested in how the preservation field can incorporate mobile devices & apps for our work. Wouldn’t it be nice to conduct survey with your smart phone or tablet and transfer that information to a database without many in between steps?

You’ve probably heard about the app FieldNotes LT, which can geo-reference your resource and combine it with photographs and notes as a .kmz file. However, the file is dependent on whatever outside platform you’re using to open it (Google Earth in my experience) and you can’t really store it in a database. It’s useful, but not flawless.

So what’s better? What is a new digital & preservation initiative? Read on for news from Alexandria, VA (information adapted from correspondence with Mary Catherine Collins, a preservation planner with the city):

The City of Alexandria’s Historic Preservation division is seeking volunteers to assist with an architectural survey of the Old and Historic Alexandria District. This survey will be the first of its kind in the country using an exciting new GIS-based mobile application designed to expedite the surveying process and facilitate data sharing between the City of Alexandria and other cultural resource organizations.

Like FieldNotes LT, it will geolocate all of our survey data and photos, but more importantly by using a geodatabase format, we will be able to easily transfer our data to VDHR and NPS’s databases. The outcome of this survey is a set of digital transfer standards as well as digital update to our National Register and Landmark listings. Additionally the app will be made available for free on ESRI’s website once the project is complete.

Alexandria is a great place to begin this since, like many of the first designated historic districts, the NR nomination is entirely inadequate at only three pages!

Surveying will begin in early March, with training taking place in late February. We anticipate 2 days of training and approximately 5-10 days of field surveying. Please contact Mary Catherine Collins at preservation@alexandriava.gov if you are interested or for more information.

This is a great opportunity for anyone in the DC area to not only be part of an exciting project, but also to network with other design professionals and preservationists in the area!

Preservationists in the area, including Mary Washington & GW preservation students, I hope you’re listening. Get out, have some HP fun and learn about the digital age in preservation. If you do participate, report back to PiP.  Thank you Mary Catherine for providing this information. Good luck!

Preservation Photos #163

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Happy New Year! Wishing everyone a happy 2013. The Vergennes Depot has a bright future; here it sits on its new foundation where it is undergoing rehabilitation. Stay tuned for updates.