February Flamingo-grams

Some adventures from around the Northeast in February.

Preservation ABCs: P is for Place

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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P is for Place

Not a historic site, but this place means the world to me.

Not a historic site, but this place means the world to me.

Place is not a standard vocabulary term that you’ll find in an architectural dictionary or preservation textbook; however, “place” is an often used term in historic preservation.

A place can be a town, a building, a field, a park, a bridge, a crossroads, a mountain range or anything really. When asked what is your favorite place, what’s your answer? Whether ocean, town, building, nature, any place can be special to someone, and it’s likely that every place has a dear meaning to someone. As the National Trust campaign says, “This Place Matters.” Identifying a particular place and appreciating that place allows the intangible ideas of historic preservation to make sense by connecting them with the tangible elements of our past and present. These places are important because they are the basis for everyone to understand significance. Not every place is a historic resource, but every place can be significant in someone’s life. And great places, loved places make for strong communities and a better quality of life.

We also talk about planning concepts such as “third place” – the idea that a third place is somewhere that people feel comfortable and welcome, beyond the home and beyond the office. This can be anywhere, though usually it refers to a restaurant, café or other gathering place (something that can be incorporated into new urbanism ideas).

What does “place” mean to you? What is your favorite place?

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Preservation Photos #171

A ceiling in Salve Regina's Wakehurst Student Center.

A ceiling in Salve Regina’s Wakehurst Student Center.

Few things are more stunning than intact, intricate ceilings in historic buildings.

Railroad Timetables

You never know what you’ll come across each day in the field of historic preservation, such as 1882 railroad timetables. Take a look:

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And now I have a desire to travel cross country by train. How about you?

What Color is Your House?

Brattleboro, VT

Brattleboro, VT.

Before we get started talking about paint colors, let’s get one thing straight: historic preservation is not about telling you what color to paint your building. Really. While some colors are more historically appropriate than others (in restoration work, paint might be important), but paint is reversible.

Yet, despite its temporal nature, paint color is an important decision for many of us, whether painting a room or the exterior of our homes and other buildings. So feel free to offer up your opinion. How do you choose? Are there some colors that you think are more house appropriate than others? Are there colors that are more popular than others in your region? Often color speaks to the architectural style and era. For examples, Greek Revival buildings are often painted white while the Queen Anne style is known for many, varied color patterns.

Brattleboro, VT. Shingle style.

Brattleboro, VT.

Do you have a favorite house color? Do you prefer light palettes or dark palettes? What crazy paint patterns have you seen? Have you ever seen a house painted black?

Abandoned Vermont: Wolcott House

A house in Wolcott, Vermont sits on the bend in road, settled quietly and subtly into the landscape. Warm weather foliage hides much of its facade, but the colder months allow for improved views of the house. This appears to be another one whose owner/occupant began a significant renovation and have since stopped, for reasons unknown.

Wolcott, VT

Wolcott, VT

Wolcott VT

Wolcott VT – See the new basement foundation?

details, details

This house is full of architectural details & original windows.

front door

The doors and windows are secure and blocked. Someone still cares about this house.

front door

Looking up at the entryway.

side

Side view.

windows & shutter

Original window, storm, and shutter in disrepair.

altered windows on the rear

Possibly a kitchen window over a sink on the interior. Maybe this window was simply turned 90 degrees (see the change in clapboard pattern).

side

Another view of the front and side, with the basement foundation.

interior view through broken window

Interior view through broken window. Organized and stripped, but work was ongoing at some point.

work underway once upon a time

Plaster ceiling, beadboard, stacked wood.

weathered

Weathered clapboard.

The house appears square and in good condition still; here’s to hoping its owners return.

Valentines in Montpelier

Every year the Montpelier Valentine Phantom plasters the city with hearts. It’s lovely. Here are a few images of the historic downtown, heart style.

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Flamingo Valentine

 Happy Valentine’s Day! 

A preservation valentine to share with you: 

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The most creative Valentine from one of my dear flamingos, Kerry. Thanks Kerry!

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And it was delicious.

Previous Valentine’s Day posts on PiP:

Preservation ABCs: O is for Oral History

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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O is for Oral History

A digital recorder for an oral history project.

A Tascam digital recorder for an oral history project.

Historic preservation can be considered an umbrella field for many related disciplines, though each field is its own profession and area of study, such as oral history. The Oral History Association defines the field as,

Oral history is a field of study and a method of gathering, preserving and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events. Oral history is both the oldest type of historical inquiry, predating the written word, and one of the most modern, initiated with tape recorders in the 1940s and now using 21st-century digital technologies.

Being an oral historian is a profession that is very much a labor of love. It’s challenging, but it’s incredibly rewarding. The opportunity to show ordinary people that their stories are valuable to history and how their stories connect to others – that opportunity cannot be surpassed.

Oral history involves phone calls, background research, searching for interviewees, developing project goals and questions, choosing appropriate equipment, setting up interview dates, establishing trusting relationships with interviewees, listening, synthesizing, transcribing, answering questions and formulating reports … it’s quite the process. But throughout oral history projects you come to know people well. These people let you into their lives, if only a portion of it. Some offer coffee while you talk. Others need some reassuring about the recorders or legal forms to sign. And you learn people are beautiful, unique and interesting and have so much in common with each other. It’s an honor to conduct an oral history project.

Historic preservation includes oral history because preservation values places, stories and people, all of which oral history can connect. Sometimes a place lacks a known story because there is no written record, but someone can fill in that gap with memories. Both disciplines complement each other. At the simplest level, you could consider historic preservation as the built environment and oral history as the stories to fill and connect the environment.