The Book of all Books

At Mary Washington, one of the required courses in the preservation sequence was HISP305: American Building, taught by Professor W. Brown Morton, III. Professor Morton had more accolades in historic preservation than we could ever dream of, so we students tended to hang onto his words and take his advice. One book he introduced us to was Twentieth Century Building Materials: History and Conservation, edited by Thomas C. Jester of the National Park Service.jesterThis book is long out of print, but most of us cannot figure out why since it’s an incredibly rich resource with sections and chapters on metals, concrete, wood, masonry, glass, flooring, and roofing. It’s a beautiful book. Take a look at the Amazon preview pages and you’ll see what I mean. As of today it appears that Amazon is selling it for $69.95, which is barely more than it’s in-print price. If I were you and wanting this book (normally around $100) I’d buy it today!

As I had mentioned in one of the Preservation in Pink Christmas posts, this book would make an excellent gift for those interested in historic preservation and historic architecture or those involved in restoration. But, I’m mentioning it again because it is just that good. Are you writing a building description of an 18th century building, but wonder when that glass block window was added? Well, the chapter on glass block may help you a lot. Or how old is that plate glass window on that storefront? When was that terra cotta added? It’s so much fun.

Inevitably, I cracked and bought a copy of this book before starting graduate school, rationalizing the purchase by the fact that I already had some of the other expensive required texts (such as Recording Historic Structures).  And I will admit that sometimes I just like to flip through the pages and gaze at them. Aside from McAlester’s Field Guide to American Houses, this is my favorite book. And it’s a marvelous addition to any preservationist’s library. My point of all this? You should own this book.

What’s your favorite book? What can you not resist, even if it is a splurge on a book? What makes homework or work not so bad because you’re happy to familiarize yourself with the book?

Graduate School

Welcome to Graduate School at the University of Vermont. Now, read. Well, okay, that’s not the sentiment exactly (it was much more welcoming and exciting) but I am already buried under books and books and books.

Textbooks and reference books.

Textbooks and reference books.

Architectural glossary, anyone?

Architectural glossary, anyone?

Heavy reading, well recommended books.

Heavy reading, well recommended books.

I mention this overload of books for a few reasons. 1) I love pictures of stacks or shelves of books. 2) I am not sure how to adjust the Preservation in Pink posting schedule (it’s only my first week of classes) so bear with me. If you’ve ever considered being a guest blogger on PiP, now would be the perfect time! Seriously! 3) Posts will continue, hopefully in a mixture of academic thoughts, current events, and grad school anecdotes. Suggestions are welcome, however. 4) All of these books would be great additions to your preservation library.

For those who have gone through grad school, you probably know how I feel this first week of school (aside from psyched for our projects and field work). Any advice for the rest of us? For those who are new to grad school like me, good luck! And for those who are not yet there, don’t worry – it’s an important, personal decision to decide on when (and if) to attend graduate school.

The University of Vermont (UVM) is great so far and at orientation we received “free” coffee mugs. This is my kind of place. Oh, it’s “UVM” for Universitas Viridis Montis, or University of the Green Mountains. On the seal the phrase is Universitas V. Montis, hence UVM.

Thanks to all of the readers for bearing with the change in schedule over the summer and now.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder died on February 10, 1957 at the age of 90. She was born on February 7, 1867.During her lifetime she traversed the country by horse and wagon, survived the long winter of 1880-1881 in Dakota Territory, farmed with her family, taught school at age 15, lived during (what we call) the pioneer days, and saw modern America develop. From horses and mail by ponies and trains to automobiles, electricity, planes, and television – Laura lived a fascinating life. Her books have never been out of print and they continue to delight and educate readers all over the world.
I began reading the Little House books around the age of 11, because my mom brought one home from the library and told me that I’d probably like it. I did. And I read those books as fast as I was able. In fact, in sixth grade I won the award for having read the most books in my class. Throughout middle school and high school I read every biography about Laura and every series of books about Laura and her relatives. I couldn’t call myself an expert, but I absorbed and remembered much more about Laura’s life than the average Little House viewer.

Before Laura Ingalls Wilder, I adored the American Girls series and the Dear America series, as I have mentioned here. I imagine that reading this historical fiction combined with my mother’s adoration of abandoned buildings, set me on the path to historic preservation.And becoming so enamored with and intrigued by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life gave me someone I still call my role model / idol / hero.Life would not be the same without Laura Ingalls.

Who is your idol in American history?Is this a part of the reason you became so interested in history and historic preservation?

For those who enjoy historical figures, historic sites, and road trips – here are a few of Laura’s houses.

Little House on the Prairie. The log cabin reconstruction of the Ingalls' home in Indian Territory near Independence, Kansas.

Little House on the Prairie. The log cabin reconstruction of the Ingalls’ home in Indian Territory near Independence, Kansas.

The Surveyor's House in Dakota Territory.

The Ingalls' house in the town of De Smet.

Rocky Ridge Farm, Mansfield, MO - home of Laura and Almanzo Wilder.

The Rock House on Rocky Ridge Farm.

Overhills Author Event!


Join Jeff Irwin and me, Kaitlin O’Shea, for an “author event” at The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines this Thursday afternoon. We’re going to talk a bit about Overhills history, the book writing inspiration and process, answer questions, sign books, mingle, etc. The Country Bookshop is wonderful and we’re so excited to be a part of their Author Series this January.  There will be bookmarks, stickers, and snacks if that helps persuade you!

Click here to read an article from the Southern Pines newspaper, The Pilot, for a brief history of Overhills and information about the book. And click here to see the Best Selling books in the Sandhills.  (Check out Paperback Nonfiction to see Overhills at #1!)

Obviously, Jeff and I are very excited to talk to everyone about the book, which we believe has uniquely preserved Overhills.