With Your Coffee [Monday Edition]

Silos at Dealer.com, Pine Street, Burlington, VT. Painted by local artist Mary Lacy.

Good morning! How’s it going? Is September incredibly busy for everyone – what happened to summer days? In need of a preservation conversation spark? Here are some recent finds relating to transportation and place. Read anything good lately? Working on anything fun? Let me know.

Cheers!

Reading List: Historic Preservation & the Built Environment

Large, mature trees contribute to the historic streetscape and historic properties.

Thank you to the Wilmington Library for having me as part of their summer lecture series. I thoroughly enjoyed talking about historic preservation and the built environment with community members and visitors. As promised, here is a reading list of related books:

  • Outside Lies Magic by John R. Stilgoe
  • The Motel in America by John A. Jakle and Keith A. Sculle
  • The Gas Station in America by John A. Jakle and Keith A. Sculle
  • Diners, Bowling Alleys, And Trailer Parks: Chasing The American Dream In The Postwar Consumer Culture by Andrew Hurley
  • Blue Highways: A Journey into America by William Least Heat Moon
  • Main Street to Miracle Mile by Chester Liebs
  • Once Upon a Playground: A Celebration of Classic American Playgrounds, 1920-1975 by Brenda Biondo
  • A Field Guide to American Houses (Revised): The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America’s Domestic Architecture by Virginia Savage McAlester

Have any suggestions of your own? Add them in the comments. Happy reading (don’t forget your coffee). Cheers!

Heard in a Gilmore Girls Episode

Have you heard?! Gilmore Girls is coming back for a revival season – an 8th season. I’m so excited that I can barely contain myself. It’ll be a mini season (about 4 episodes), but it’s better than nothing. Here’s a fun fact for you: the show started in 2000, and at the time I was the same age (15) as Rory Gilmore (the daughter). Almost 16 years later, I’m still watching the show. But now, when I watch season one, I’m almost as old as Lorelai (the mother, who was 32 when the show started). HAAAA. Whatever, I’ll love Gilmore Girls forever and ever.

dragonfly inn

Lorelai and Rory dreaming about The Dragonfly Inn in Season 1. Source: http://gilmoregirls.wikia.com/wiki/Dragonfly_Inn

While re-watching a Season 4 episode (“Chicken or Beef?“), I noticed a perfect preservation line to go along with Preservation Month and #thisplacematters. Lorelai and Sookie are standing on the porch of the Dragonfly Inn, taking it all in before restoration commences. Lorelai says to Sookie:

Just sometimes, it hits me. This place had a long history before us, has a long future after us. I keep thinking it’s apart of our lives, but, really, it’s the reverse. For a little while. . .I don’t know. . .it’s like we’re apart of its life.

And that is why preservation is important. Happy Preservation Month!

p.s. Join the UVM Historic Preservation Alumni Association for a behind scenes tour of a local rehabilitation project.

A Springtime Preservation Song

Springtime brings everything back to life; it makes everything seem magical. Leaves and flowers blooming. New seasons work wonders. Inspiration, hope, optimism – these are all foundations of preservation. One of my dear flamingos sent along this song, citing this stanza:

“So much for used and abused, abandoned, thrown away
Some things are destined to live another day
It takes a certain kind to look deep enough to find the beauty within
And I thank God for those who make the old new again”

Thank you, Ali!

A Preservation Video & Essay, of sorts, with a 1945 Tractor

Historic preservation is everywhere. Appreciation for our past is comforting to find beyond our typical conversations, meetings and writings. Recently I found preservation in a unexpected place, from someone who is not a preservationist by trade, schooling, self proclamation, or profession, yet it can easily speak to preservationists. Presenting a video and its companion essay shared by the talented Bus Huxley. I could not give Bus nor his work the introduction they deserve, so read on and enjoy the video. I recommend that you watch, read, watch. 

By Bus Huxley

A few years ago I was care-taking an old farm when I came across the chronological collection of the N-news. This is a quarterly publication dedicated to Ford and Ferguson tractors from the middle part of the last century. I poured over each magazine, starting from the earliest and looking forward to the next installment as a kid anticipates the new issue of a comic book. Hidden in these pages were countless tips for maintenance, improvements, operation techniques and a detailed and rich history of Henry Ford and Harry Ferguson’s brilliant and tumultuous partnership and collaboration. I was eager to glean as much information about the first machine I ever piloted while perched on my dad’s lap at seven years old.

At its essence, my 1945 Ford 2n is a combination of simple machines working together to make hard jobs easy. I stopped in to milk an old timer at his Ford shop for sage mechanical consultation in northern Vermont one snowy afternoon. After dolling out the solution to my problem, he began to wax on about the year 1942, when he and his brother were dairy farmers, and had always used horses. The look in his face as he described the vast improvement in their two lives upon purchasing a Ford 9n for the farm was fantastic. They no longer needed to grow ten more acres of hay for their pulling power. When the tractor went to sleep, it did not need to eat or drink, and it could lift massive weight with an ingenious hydraulic lift mounted on the back of the rig.

Operating this tractor most of my life, I’ve mown countless acres of field, twitched endless cords of firewood from the forest, moved piles of rocks, pushed tons and tons of snow, and trailered decades of split firewood into the barn for the winter. It’s also taught me how to work within very specific parameters of power and ability. This is by no means the strongest machine in the world, and two wheel drive has some limitations, but with careful planning and gentle throttle manipulation, the old Ford/Ferguson can do all I ever ask of it. And I can fix it! Anything on it, no matter what, can be mended. I have no idea what kind of steel or magic alloy this was made of, but there is not a bolt on it that won’t thread out if I ask it. There is practically no rust on it, and its been outside for 70 years!

Don’t get me wrong and chalk me up as some nostalgic troglodyte, wishing for the good old days. I love the internet in my pocket, connected to my telephone that also has the sharpest camera I own, but I also love a well designed, innovative and wonderfully overbuilt contraption like the old Ford tractors. I’ll own this rig for the rest of my life, and look forward to working together whenever we get the chance.

Thank you, Bus!

Preservation on the Ground: Norla Preservation Project

Social media makes the world seem smaller and larger at the same time. Smaller in the sense that you come across people with similar interests and crazy six degrees of separation. News travels faster, instantaneously. Larger in the sense that you discover so much more than you knew existed. Best of all, this small and large  social media sphere allows us to meet people taking on exciting projects across the country, and world.

This brings me to introduce “Preservation on the Ground”, a new series for Preservation in Pink that will interview passionate people wrangling preservation projects and living inspiring stories.

The first story here brings us to Kelly Rich in Louisiana and the Norla Preservation Project. Kelly found PiP on instragram and intrigued by her photos, I immediately followed Norla and began asking questions about the project. Want to hear it straight from Kelly? Read on. Below is the interview with Kelly.

The shotgun houses in Shreveport, LA. Photo courtesy of Kelly Rich.

The six historic shotgun houses in Shreveport, LA. Photo courtesy of Kelly Rich.

What’s your 30 second elevator pitch for your project?

Norla Preservation Project is a newly formed nonprofit utilizing adaptive reuse on a project that was set for demolition. We are trying to teach by example that historic buildings that may have outlived their original purpose still have value and potential for something new. We are taking six historic shotgun houses that were marked for demolition and re-purposing them into small business commercial use. We will use the project to promote awareness of our local historic architecture and cultural heritage.

The shotgun houses, boarded up and awaiting this project.

The shotgun houses, boarded up and awaiting this project. Photo courtesy of Kelly Rich.

What’s the overall plan?

Norla’s goal is to complete the shotgun commercial development and lease the buildings to local small businesses. Our ideal property would include at least two casual restaurants, a coffee shop and bakery, a small market selling Louisiana products, a bookstore and gallery, and a piano jazz bar. Once the property is successful and income producing, we will take the profit and adopt another adaptive reuse project. We will also offer preservation education opportunities to the community.

A site plan view of the Norla project. Image courtesy of Kelly Rich.

A site plan view of the Norla project. Image courtesy of Kelly Rich.

How will it be funded?

We are raising money and looking into grant opportunities. Also we are developing several sponsorship and donor possibilities for a state-wide supported project.

The birdseye view of the proposed site plan.

The birdseye view of the proposed site plan. Image courtesy of Kelly Rich.

Who is helping you on this project?

Not sure how to answer this one. I have several representatives from the City of Shreveport and other preservation groups in Louisiana that are guiding us in the right direction. We do not have any developers or corporate sponsors as of yet. We have nine amazing board members and a growing community of volunteers.

Do you have a time frame?

Once we go forward with the donation of the shotgun houses from the city this year, we plan to work with a 18-24 month timeline.

The Shotgun houses.

The Shotgun houses. Photo courtesy of Kelly Rich.

What motivated you to take on such a project?

As a single mom, I had an opportunity to purchase a historic building several years ago. After researching the cost and time requirements to rehabilitate, I regretfully walked away. I hate that story. I gave up too easily. When I encountered another rehab gamble with the shotgun houses, I stepped up with the thought of “Just try.” My motivation came from the realization that if I didn’t do something then, these houses would be gone forever. It started from a mild curiosity of asking questions to a feeling of obligation and responsibility to these houses. I hated the thought of losing a part of history because no one wanted them. And plus I am determined to have an “I told you so” moment….to myself mostly.

Kelly and her daughter.

Kelly and her daughter Madeline in front of the shotgun houses. Adorable! Photo courtesy of Kelly Rich.

Tell me about your background. How did you get interested in historic preservation?

My love of anything old came from my father. He is a wonderful storyteller and one of the most knowledgeable men I know. He would always have a story to tell about an old church or building, and it instilled in me an appreciation of how buildings and houses all have a story to tell if we take the time to pay attention. Ten years ago, I bought my first historic home, joined my first historical association, and fell hard for the historic preservation life. I’ve been active in different historic and cultural groups since.

Kelly showing that the shotgun houses matter!

Kelly showing that the shotgun houses matter! Photo courtesy of Kelly Rich.

Do you consider yourself a preservationist?

It’s definitely part of who I am. I’m no expert in the field of preservation, but I have a desire to learn and consider myself an aggressive advocate for the buildings that have stories that need to be shared. I am a bit of a romantic when it comes to old buildings. I imagine who all might have walked through the doors, what they might have thought about, what they might have seen. It hurts my heart to see them in disrepair because of neglect and indifference. I also have a constant need for a project to obsess over or I go insane.

What or who inspires you? What keeps you going?

I consistently am described as “enthusiastic.” I have had multiple occasions where I start sharing about the project and I get the dubious looks, but by the end of the spiel, their eyes are bright and they’re nodding in agreement. THAT’S what keeps me going…all the skeptics that I can convert to supporters. There’s a teeny tiny (ha!) stubborn streak in me that gets even more excited when challenged. I have learned that passion is contagious and we are trying our best to infect the masses with a preservation minded spirit!

The Norla logo. Image courtesy of Kelly Rich.

The Norla logo. Image courtesy of Kelly Rich.

What can others do to help?

The easiest thing is to share our project with others. Norla is new in the preservation world, and we hope hearing our story might trigger an emotional response and possibly create new volunteers and donors. Once we finalize our budget and timeline, we will plan several volunteer work weekends with a little Louisiana fun mixed in as well.We are working with Adventures in Preservation and the NCPTT to offer these working vacations themed on historic preservation. Keep watching the website or sign up for our newsletter to keep up with updates.

Find Norla on Facebook, on Instagram, and on the project website. And share this video with others! You can see how much passion Kelly has, and we all know that any preservation project could use some extra hands, good vibes, and some funding. Share the love and the good preservation news that’s happening on the ground.

Thank you, Kelly! Kudos for your courage to save these six shotgun houses. Keep us posted on your project progress.

What’s That? An HGTV Show That Will Not Infuriate Preservationists?!

While I’ve confessed my love of HGTV previously, most of the shows are not preservation friendly. What’s particularly annoying? The shows in which people talk about “character” and “charm” but only want brand new homes when they are looking at older homes. Or the shows in which spray foam runs rampant. I normally end up angry at the television. (It’s a good thing I watch HGTV only a few times per year.) But, wait! This time on my HGTV stint, I’ve discovered a new (to me) show.

The show is Rehab Addict, with host and “star” Nicole Curtis. She’s a self-taught DIY-er who buys historic homes desperately in need of rehabilitation. And what does she do? She restores them, doing most of the work herself. She saves old windows, hardwood floors, and significant features. And when new material is needed Nicole finds salvage material where possible. The show is based in Minneapolis, MN and Detroit, MI. How does she afford such tasks? Curtis is also a real estate agent; after the houses are rehabilitated she sells them.

As a preservationist, what do I like? Nicole seems genuine and she gets excited about finding historic features. She wants to save as much historic fabric as possible. She loves these houses. She despises vinyl tile, popcorn ceilings and bad renovation decisions. And she’s a cool woman. How many of us (women and men) wish we could do what she does? Read more about Nicole Curtis here.

While I’ve only seen a few episodes, it’s exciting to find a television that actually is about restoration not “remodeling.” Good job, HGTV. And now I want to buy a dollar house somewhere. Who’s with me?

One Girl Scout + One Rosenwald School = Inspiring Youth in Preservation {Guest Post by Julia Bache}

While attending the National Trust Conference in Indianapolis, I had the pleasure to meet Julia Bache, a high school student who recently completed a successful National Register nomination as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award, and presented at the conference. She is delightful and quite impressive! At Julia’s age, I had not heard of historic preservation and here she is already writing National Register nominations. It’s so encouraging to hear high school students are interested in the field. I asked Julia if she’d be willing to share her story with Preservation in Pink readers. Below is her guest post. (Of course, I recommended the University of Mary Washington’s Historic Preservation program to them).

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By Julia Bache

I was so excited to meet Kaitlin at the National Trust Conference in Indianapolis a few weeks ago! I have enjoyed following her posts here on Preservation in Pink and am honored to share my preservation efforts with you!

Julia Bache and Kaitlin O'Shea in Indianapolis, pictured at a display in the conference expo hall.

Julia Bache and Kaitlin O’Shea in Indianapolis, pictured at a display in the conference expo hall.

At the conference, I spoke about the Rosenwald Schools and about how to engage youth in historic preservation. I also learned from other speakers and met many inspirational preservationists. Kaitlin and the other professionals showed me that historic preservation is something that we can always take part in, putting out talents and passion to work!

Julia presenting at the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference in  Indianapolis, 2013.

Julia presenting at the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference in Indianapolis, 2013.

As a sophomore in high school, I was ready to begin my Girl Scout Gold Award Project. Scanning the web for possible projects, I found a nomination form for a Rosenwald School that had just been listed on the National Register. Reading this form, I knew that I wanted to help preserve these endangered sites for my Gold Award project.

Buck Creek School, the subject of Julia's NR nomination.

Buck Creek School, the subject of Julia’s NR nomination.

 I decided to nominate a Rosenwald School in my area, the Buck Creek School. I began diving into the remarkable history of the Rosenwald Schools. I read about the builders of these schools, Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington, and how they teamed up with so many communities to provide children with better education.

Julia conducting an oral history interview for historical research.

Julia conducting an oral history interview for historical research.

 I was amazed to find that over 5,000 Rosenwald Schools were built in 15 southern states, serving about one-third of the African American students in the south. They set new standards for African American education by providing nicer facilities, dedicated teachers, and a longer school term. I found it incredible that Rosenwald and Washington were able to break the racial barrier during the Jim Crow era to start this program and improve the education for so many children.

After writing the NR form, I presented the nomination to the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board. In March 2013, the Buck Creek School was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places!

Julia's presentation at the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board.

Julia’s presentation at the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board.

I wanted to do more to educate the public about the need to preserve the Rosenwald Schools. As the second phase of my Gold Award Project, I created a traveling museum exhibition to share the Rosenwald Schools’ history. My traveling exhibition has been displayed in museums, historical societies, and public libraries across the state and will continue to tour into my senior year.

Julia in front of her Rosenwald School exhibition.

Julia in front of her Rosenwald School exhibition.

My project has taught me that people from varied backgrounds can come together through a common love of history and make a difference by preserving it for the future.

———-

Thank you, Julia. You are an inspiration; I hope there are many students like you. Readers, are you a youth in preservation with a  story to share (or do you know any)? I’d love to hear about your passion and projects. 

PresConf Recap: Education Sessions

Gather thousands of preservationists together and there is a lot to talk about, which is more than buildings. Sessions discussed historic sites, publicity, economic revitalization, energy efficiency, social media, the 50 year “rule”, diversity, new ideas for building uses, community advocacy, bridge rehabilitation, federal laws (NEPA & NHPA), and much more. While it’s great to have so many choices for which sessions to attend, my complaint is that there are too many options. Having to choose from one of five or more at one time makes me feel like I’m missing out on important education opportunities. Of course that tends to sound like a “first world problem” but I’m letting you know how busy a National Trust conference can be.

Each session is worthy of discussion, but for this overview I’ll note some of my biggest takeaways (ideas and/or food for thought) and go into greater detail in subsequent posts. You can also find recaps from the Preservation Leadership Forum blog for the whole conference and daily recaps.

Held in the Madame Walker Theater.

Held in the Madame Walker Theater.

Conversation Starter: Diversity in Preservation: Rethinking Standards and Practices

A conversation starter worked like this: a panel provided the background information and set the stage for discussion on the topic. Audience members wrote questions on index cards and the moderator selected questions for the panel to answer. This panel discussed how preservation is building focused; preservationists speak the language of buildings. Yet, how does that impact important places that do not have significant buildings anymore (perhaps they are lost or have lost historic integrity)? Is there a way to make ordinary buildings significant? It’s the discussion of authenticity v. integrity. How much of a role does association play? Is the National Register effective in preserving our significant places? Where are we moving in the future? Are we changing standards or practices, both or none?

As you can surmise, this was a great panel for getting your preservation theory & practices brain working overtime. Rather than being told what to think, the audience participated in the conversation, making the session feel like a good class in school when we’d all sit around and talk theory.

New Media, New Audiences: Case Studies in Social Media

The much anticipated social media panel (one of the panels) with Kayla, Dana, Michelle, and Meagan. Each of us discussed how we use social for preservation work, individually and for our organizations and advocacy. Following the brief presentations, the audience divided into groups of five. We answered questions about social media, helped people work through their challenges and consider what might work for their needs. Each group was different, and all sounded like they went over well. At the end of the group breakout session, everyone wrote their lessons learned on 8×11 analog Twitter cards to tape on the wall sharing what they learned or another thought from the session.

Why is social media at a preservation conference? Simply stated, social media is not only for our personal lives. It can help our organizations be included in conversations throughout communities and across the country. It builds relationships and increases networks in a more genuine way than some might expect from social media. (After all, we preservationists love authenticity, so we’re going to be ourselves, right?) Our goal was to show that social media (whether blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) can help to share powerful messages and create support for preservation causes. And it’s not just for the younger generations, nor do you have to use all of the social media avenues. It’s also fun. In other words, go ahead, jump on the preservation + social media bandwagon. You’ll be glad you did.

Our analog Twitter wall!

Our analog Twitter wall!

Seaside as A Historic District: Evaluating the Significance of New Urbanism Developments

Another one of my favorite sessions, hearkening to the day of Mary Washington where we were fascinated by New Urbanism developments (because some, quite frankly, were creepy, whereas others seemed like good places to live. Though we were unable to decide if preservationists could live in new developments, however well designed, because of all of the historic homes and communities out there). This session presented examples of planned communities throughout American history (think Radburn, NJ, all the Levittowns, the Greenbelt communities) and then discussed new communities (new urbanism) such as Seaside, FL and Reston, VA. What is the correlation between new urbanism and historic preservation? Are these new communities too Disney-like or gentrified? And the discussion led back to our favorite terms of significance and authenticity. The best thought to share: New urbanism is learning to build new cities in the fashion of successful old cities (i.e. old urbanism?), which have survived because of historic preservation. Perhaps the two fields: historic preservation and urban planning have more in common than previously thought.

Spans to Somewhere: Creative Outcomes for Large Transportation Projects in Historic Settings

A big transportation project is near and dear to my heart due to my days with the Lake Champlain Bridge. Unfortunately many of our larger historic bridges are at risk for demolition because they no longer meet the service levels or have suffered deterioration. This session discussed the Milton-Madison Bridge as well as the Louisville, KY bridge projects and how the communities worked to mitigate the loss of their bridge. While the regulatory world (Section 106 & Section 4(f)) isn’t often discussed in National Trust sessions, it is important to remember that the laws do play a role in everyone’s lives. And community input is an important part of these regulations. Citizens (stakeholders) can help to direct the outcome of a project, when working with the decision makers. The outcome can include rehabilitation, or it can include mitigation (a unique bridge design, historic research or documentation, interpretive panels, preservation planning, etc.)

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Those are just a few of the sessions and a few thoughts – hopefully some to get your preservation brain intrigued. If you attended the conference, what were some of your favorite sessions?

#Presconf Excitement!

Who is going to the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference in Indianapolis next week? There are so many sessions to attend, but if you get the chance to attend the session, “New Media, New Audiences: Case Studies in Social Media,” I’d love to meet you. I’m in conference preparation mode, so I thought I’d share a few links, hints, exciting events. Find the full program here.

(1) SOCIAL MEDIA! Need news and happenings or have a question for other conference attendees? Search and use #presconf on Twitter or @PresNationLive and someone will answer you, I’m sure. Wednesday night before the opening reception is the Tweet-up (7:15) and I’m looking forward to meeting all of the social media folks in “real life” as opposed to the Twitter/Instagram/blog world. (See below from @PresNationLive).

Tweetup @ #PresConf

The annual Tweetup at the National Preservation Conference will take place after the opening plenary at the Athenaeum (site of the opening reception), upstairs by the maroon banquette at 7:15 p.m. Take the elevator to get to the second floor.

(2) SPEAKERS! The Opening Plenary speaker is Henry Glassie. For anyone who studied vernacular architecture at Mary Washington, you are probably as excited as I am. The man is a vernacular scholar legend! I need to find a book for him to autograph! Prof. Stanton at Mary Washington would be proud. Check out the speaker bios.

(3) EVENTS! The Thursday night candlelight tour. This is always a conference favorite: beautiful homes, an evening walk, gazing at architecture. How many times have you wanted to go in a house as you walked by?! Well, on this tour you can! There’s also a silent film night with Indiana Landmarks and a social media cast party for the speakers. So much on one night! Browse the program, there’s no shortage of fun things to do and interesting people to meet.

(4) INDY! Some Indianapolis exploring. Following Tiffany (Historic Indianapolis) and Raina for so long, Indy looks like it’s going to be awesome. They are full of good Indy photos, idea, and tips. And many businesses are offering discounts for conference attendees. Print the list for reference and just show them your badge! Download the free Indy app to help guide you around the city. Do you live in Indy? What’s your recommended site, food stop, coffee shop, city adventure, etc?

I still have to plan out my schedule to be certain that I don’t miss a thing on my list. Lots to do before conference time! I’m sure there will be more to share before I head to the Midwest. Wish you could join, but are unable to this year? Check out this post from the Preservation Leadership Forum to see all of your options to follow along.