A Visit to Wilmington

If you’re a preservationist in Vermont, you know Wilmington for the 2012 Historic Preservation and Downtown conference and the 2011 flooding of Tropical Storm Irene, among other reasons. If you’re an out-of-stater, you probably know Wilmington as a ski town; Mount Snow is just up the road. And maybe you’ve all heard about Dot’s Restaurant (The NY Times reported on its reopening last December). Wilmington is a beautiful small town in southern Vermont with a good stock of architecture, amenities for visitors and pleasant streets. Take a look (side note: click on the photographs to enlarge, and see them with better clarity). 

Wilmington is currently filled with giant chairs.

Wilmington is currently filled with giant chairs.

Ascending front gables on South Main Street.

Ascending front gables on South Main Street.

The 1898 Crafts Inn.

The 1898 Crafts Inn.

Route 9 & Route 100. Check out those brackets!

Route 9 & Route 100. Check out those brackets!

This building is undergoing renovations (still, post flood). It is the 1930 Parmalee & Howe Drugstore.

This building is undergoing renovations (still, post flood). It is the 1930 Parmalee & Howe Drugstore.

The intersection of Route 9 and Route 100 features a beautiful pocket park.

The intersection of Route 9 and Route 100 features a beautiful pocket park.

Looking for more history? Read the entire National Register nomination here. It’s now available online thanks to the massive digitization effort by Vermont Division for Historic Preservation (our SHPO office). And it’s almost leaf peeping season, followed by ski season. Enjoy Vermont if you’re coming for a visit!


Love Your Landmarks

Photographs, historic landmarks, a contest, springtime — there is so much to love about the National Historic Landmark Program Photography Contest. How to enter? Check out the rules on the NHL website. In brief: You can enter up to 10 photos per person, but one per landmark. Upload your photos to the Flickr group. And swing by the NHL Facebook page to get more information and news about the sites.  Want to know more about the NHL program? Check out this tutorial.  See last year’s winners; gorgeous!

Why enter? Here are five reasons.

(1) Most of us are snap happy with our digital cameras. Thank goodness for digital, yes? While we may take longer to print our photographs, if we ever do, at least we can experiment with the camera until we take the “perfect” shot. But, with these digital cameras, do you take the time to practice getting a good shot or are we all just clicking away on the cameras? Now is your chance to have a subject, an assignment, a goal and a deadline. Maybe you can learn a few new camera tricks and functions.

(2) Maybe after all that practicing, you’ll win. Then your winning photograph will be featured in the NHL calendar, which you can download for free. Who doesn’t love to win a contest?

(3) Our National Historic Landmarks are the most significant properties in the United States, meaning they are the most significant to our collective heritage, and are important to all of us. Understanding our history is important.

(4) The National Park Service is always in need of support, so get out there and show the federal government and decision makers just how important the NPS and landmarks are to you.

(5) It’s a great reason to get outside in the springtime, alone or with family and friends. You could even take a road trip to 10 NHLs if you’re really in need of an excuse to get away.

There are approximately 2,500 NHLs. Need to find one near you? Check here. Have fun! You have until June 13, 2012.

Thanks to Sabra for sending along the flyer and head’s up about the contest beginning. 

Annaberg Sugar Mill Plantation Ruins

The US Virgin Islands are more than beaches, spirits and palm trees. The islands have centuries of history and culture to share. Approximately two-thirds of the island of St. John comprises the Virgin Islands National Park. Much of the park is underwater, which you can see via snorkeling; but, there are many interesting hiking trails and historic sites on land, too.

Welcome to the Annaberg Sugar Mill!

The Annaberg Sugar Mill Plantation Ruins comprise the Annaberg Historic District in the Virgin Islands National Park. Sugar plantations were abundant in this region throughout the 19th century. Though originally grown in India, Columbus brought sugar to the Caribbean, where it thrived. You’ve heard “Cotton was King” in reference to the US South. Well, here “Sugar was King.”  In 1758, a Dutch immigrant, Salomon Zeeger, purchased the property and named it Annaberg in honor of his wife Anna. Though its namesake, the Zeegers did not construct the mill, which dates to ca. 1800. An Irish merchant,James Murphy, purchased many adjacent properties, including Annaberg, to create his sugar estate. Sugar product continued on the plantation long after his death in 1808.

In this historic district are ruins of slave cabins, a magass (drying) shed, a windmill tower, a horse mill, an oven, a boiling house, a curing house and overseers’ quarters, a water cistern and a dungeon, a still house, a rum still, a firing trench and an ox pound.

The trail sign at the Annaberg Sugar Mill. There are 16 points along the trail, though not the same number of informational panels.

When we visited, we were fortunate that volunteer interpreters were on site to give us a helpful lesson on the boiling house. They also handed us a detailed walking tour, which supplemented the few interpretive panels throughout the site. (My knowledge of the site comes from the NPS walking tour brochure, which is very well done.)  We found the site to be in need of additional interpretive signage, especially because the volunteers are only on site for a few months out of the year. Without the brochure and/or the guides, it is much harder to understand the site.

The view near the windmill. Not a bad view for the volunteers and park rangers!

The windmill, which rotated by an attached pole. Rollers crushed sugar cane, which ran into a tank where it stayed until it was ready for processing,

Looking up and through the windmill.

The cook house, where bread was prepared for workers.

Standing inside the boiling house. On the left you can see where the coppers (kettles) were located in order to boil the cane juice down to sugar. Boiling sugar required a lot of attention and skill.

Close up of boiling house wall. The walls were constructed of volcanic rock set into a mortar composed of sand, fresh water, molasses and quicklime from seashells and coral.

Boiling house doorway with wood frame remaining.

Exterior of boiling house.

View looking through the boiling house windows towards the windmill.

View from the horse mill. Horses walked in a large circle in order to substitute for the lack of wind and windmill power on a calm day.

We loved the Annaberg Sugar Mill site for more than the view; the buildings are fascinating. It is a site very different from those throughout the continental United States (though the boiling house reminded me of smelting iron and similar processes, which was a good reference point). Ruins are always intriguing, and historical context and information heightens appreciation and awe of such sites. If you are visiting St. John, the Annaberg Plantation is a must. (A tip: make sure you get the walking tour and read it before you walk around, wondering what the unidentified buildings are.)

Read a detailed history of Annaberg Plantation, from the National Park Service. View the HABS drawings, from the Library of Congress. See the HABS photographs.

Historic Preservation and the Final Frontier

All of a sudden, it seems, the discussion of historic preservation, cultural conservation and archaeological protection on the moon and in space, is making the news. If you glance over space preservation or moon preservation or similar subjects, it could sound a bit strange, yes? Some people (the pessimists) might even think, oh great, now the preservationists want to prevent change on the moon and in outer space. Or maybe you thought that. I’ll admit, I had never given thought to preservation in space until a recent few articles.

From the New York Times article, “To Preserve History on the Moon, Visitors Are Asked to Tread Lightly,” to the post on HISTPRES, “Space Preservation: Proposing a Lunar Protection Agency,” preservationists, archaeologists, and others are abuzz with what this might for our related fields. For those who have worked toward preservation in space, some (such as Dr. Beth O’Leary of New Mexico State University) since 1999) this recognition and widespread discussion must be a long time coming.

Read the above articles for the full story (both are worth your time). In brief: as space travels moves closer to reality, people are starting to consider what cultural significance there is on the moon (Tranquility Base – on the moon – is where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. Their footprints remain). Artifacts from the space expedition in 1969 are stored in California and cataloged in the archives in the states California and New Mexico. In other words, the objects are protected.

However, what about the footprints? The famous footprints of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin? These footprints and Tranquility Base could be considered a worldwide cultural landscape (called a World Heritage Site).

Buzz Aldrin's boot print on the moon. Photograph via Wikipedia through NASA (this photograph is in the public domain).

As the articles point out, lunar tourism – even just one group or spaceship – could destroy this landscape. How do we (collectively, as an entire population) protect such a place? Who will curate the space? Who visits the landscape? How do you protect something in space? Chloe Castro’s HISTPRES post (based on her thesis) discusses the current lack of measures for protecting the landscape and the footprints. She makes suggestions for a Lunar Protection Agency and explores need for international, cooperative involvement.

What’s the bottom line right now? Why is this an issue and not some ridiculous preservation idea? Simply put, many people are keen believers in space travel for the future. People – and not just scientists or preservationists – will walk on the moon again. That puts the significant landscape at risk. Fortunately, one nation does not own the moon. And while the footprints may be those of United States citizens, they represent the world and new beginnings. Losing the very beginning – the physical evidence on the landscape – of human contact with the moon because we had not considered its importance and its preservation, would be a tragic loss for the world’s heritage. In other words, we need to act now in order to preserve our heritage on the moon and in space.

Frosty Windows in the Bungalow

A few of the windows in our house turn frosty on extremely cold days. The ice is on the storm window some on the interior window, too.

Look familiar? That’s quite typical for my house, now.  I remember some icy windows in my parents’ house, too. To combat the ice, every winter my parents would blow dry the plastic over the large metal frame picture window in our 1957 ranch house. While we would lose our windowsills for the winter and the cats would sometimes scratch holes in the plastic, my parents assumed it beat the alternative of having icy window panes. It made sense to me. About 10 years ago, they replaced some of the windows, including that old picture window (with larger double hung windows).  After that, I didn’t see frosted windows or plastic over windows until this winter in our bungalow.

The 1-over-1 wood frame windows in this house are all original, glass included. They are in good condition (some TLC needed such as the sash cords) and I love them. Unfortunately, 16 of the 19 original 2-over-2 wood storms have been replaced with metal triple track storm windows. Perhaps they were cheaper or considered more efficient at the time, but those metal storms are a pain. The windows get stuck in the tracks and some of them hurt my fingers when I try to slide the windows up or down.

However, these metal storms are better than nothing. I say this based on accidental winter experiments and casual observations about my house so far.

(1) The windows that have metal storms with the glass down (screen up) are icy on the exterior rather than the interior (mostly) (see picture above).

(2) The windows that have the metals storms with the screen down (meaning I haven’t slid the glass down yet) are icy on the interior wood frame window (seen in the picture below).

(3) The windows with the metal storms that aren’t set in the tracks properly allow for a bit of ice on the interior window.

(4) With the metal storms set properly, these windows do not feel drafty.

(5) As for the wood storms? Two of those windows do not open, and if they did, would open to the enclosed front porch, so they are completely ice free. As for the functional wood storm? It is the one window in the house that does not allow any moisture or ice on the interior wood window and barely collects  ice on the exterior storm.

Not as bad in this window. Notice that the screen is down. Ice has not formed on the inside yet, but at night it will.

What’s the point of sharing all this? We are attempting to study the energy/moisture/air flow in our house this winter in order to assess heating bills and weatherization measures that we may need to take for later in the winter or next year. Vinny and I are in favor of the original windows, always, but we understand that some might need to be covered that hair-dryer-blown plastic sheet. That’s okay – it certainly is cheap enough. For now, we’re making observations like those listed above and we’ll see how it changes throughout the winter — and how it changes once our furnace is replaced (no central heat in Vermont in January – ah, another story for another day!) What are your best weatherization tips?

On a different note, I like the look of the wintry, frosted, icy windows – it certainly is winter in Vermont!

Grammar, Semantics, Theory and Tangents

Readers, if you have not been following the commentary on Monday’s post of Preservation Grammar: Historic v. Historical, I recommend you do! What started as a simple post have led to discussions on linguistics, terminology in the field, relevance to archaeology and more. Chime in; it’s fun!

To those already discussing, keep it going! Thanks for the debates and lessons so far.

Preservation Photos #51

Interior of the 1917 Green Mountain Power Plant No. 19 in Essex Junction, VT.

Photo taken a day of tour with the Society for Industrial Archaeology (story to follow!)

Friday Links

In the spirit of a Happy Friday and in promoting connectivity to the rest of the preservation world, here are some fun related links I’ve stumbled upon across the web:

Feel like proclaiming your love of preservation and historic sites on a map! If you love maps, this is perfect for you.  Visit the National Trust’s website to add your name to a list of supporters who want to put history back on the map. Click here.

You’ve heard of Americorps – well how about HistoriCorps? From the website: HistoriCorps is an initiative of Colorado Preservation, Inc. to engage volunteers in historic preservation projects. Volunteers and students work with trades specialists including: logworkers, masons, window restorers, roofers, and solar energy technicians to preserve historic resources on and near public lands. PreserveNet had some internships posted from HistoriCorps a few months back, but you can always volunteer. Working preservation vacation anyone?

Wondering what kids are learning about historic preservation in elementary school? Well, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency has a website dedicated to preservation education for elementary school students called Architeacher.

Most of us say how far reaching preservation can be; now there is a website called HISTPRES: Unique Jobs in Historic Preservation that is showing everyone just how true that is. It is updated often with all sorts of job, all that can be tied into preservation.

Have you heard that remains of an 18th century ship have been found at the World Trade Center? Yes, for real!  What was it doing there? In the 18th and 19th century, wood cribbing was used to extend shorelines, according to the article.

Flamingos, we may have been outdone at weddings: talk about a wedding featuring flamingos. Click and scroll down to about midway through the post at Green Wedding Shoes. You cannot miss the flamingos. This couple’s reasoning: their Florida ties. Regardless, what an awesome idea.

Happy Friday!

(Readers, do you like sharing links? Should I continue to do this weekly, biweekly? Let me know. I’ll do my best to seek out exciting sites and stories worth mentioning.)

SIA Conference

View of the Teller County, CO sky and Highway 67.

SIA report part 1: overview

Colorado Springs: June 3 – 6, 2010. What do you get when you combine archaeologists, engineers, physicists, preservationists, software programmers, and others? A cross-section of the attendees at the Society for Industrial Archeology conference. It’s a diverse group, some involved professionally and some only in terms of avocation (or perhaps obsession). Some are working in the field, a few of us are students, and some are retired and remain active members.

The SIA studies, protects, and advocates for the machines and the environment that has propelled the industry of our culture: power sources, functions, machinery, waterwheels, railroads, mining structures, geology. Perhaps an unlikely combination (preservationists and engineers are friends?!) but the strength of the SIA lies in its diversity of knowledge and expertise.

An SIA conference is different from others that I have attended in that there is only one day of papers and the other days are spent touring and studying the areas. In fact, a day of tours is included in the registration fee. Additional days of touring incur additional costs. Thursday and Sunday are such the case, but the Friday tours and Saturday papers are generally attended by all.  For those on a budget like myself, you will be happy to know that many meals are included: a welcoming reception, a breakfast, lunch on the tour, and the luncheon member business meeting. (The food was delicious, for anyone concerned.)

It’s a smaller group than organizations such as the National Trust, so it feels more personable. This was my first experience traveling alone to a conference where I didn’t know a soul. I spent the 2 1/2 days sitting at tables and on buses with strangers and meeting lots of interesting people. It’s probably something that I would not have done as an undergrad, but now (older and braver) the experience was very good. SIA members are friendly and welcoming and all have good stories to tell.  It didn’t take long to feel welcomed by the SIA veterans.  I am grateful for the friendliness and the conversation. (Side note: for any students interested in industrial archaeology, you should definitely join and get involved. Members are looking for young newbies!)

Paper sessions ranged from railroads to bridges to historic forts to waterwheels to iron structures to international industrial archaeology and so much more. I presented a paper on the Lake Champlain Bridge as a case study for preservation policy, and thoroughly enjoyed sharing it with conference attendees.

In addition to talking to people on tours and at meals, the paper sessions prove just how dedicated these members are to their research and interests. What I’ve learned about the SIA members is that they all want details and more details! They want to know, in full, how something operates and its history. And those who have been studying this for a while have an incredible bank of information. The SIA conference is definitely a wonderful place to meet people, to learn about the area you’re visiting, and to hear exciting research. It is truly one of the fun conferences.

Check back for SIA Tours (and pictures) Wednesday.