With Your Coffee {Tuesday Edition}

Shard Villa in Salisbury, VT


Hello preservationists and friends! It’s time for an unconventional Tuesday “With Your Coffee” post because it’s good to switch it up once in a while. How’s it going by you? Work and life have been busy around here, but in a good way with challenging work projects, more daylight, and many good reasons to get outside. Here are a few inspiring and fun links that I’ve come across lately, some preservation, some design, etc. What about you? Fill me in!

Have a great day! Let me know if any of these stories spark a conversation. Cheers!

Good Reasons to Look Up: Burlington Sign Tour

Do you stroll around, always looking up? If you’re preservationist, you probably do. If you haven’t thought to look up at buildings and ceilings and cornices, give it a try. You never know what you might discover in your own town. It’s like playing tourist where you live.

Not sure where to start? Check out this Seven Days video  about Burlington signs, featuring two of my fellow UVM alums, Devin Colman and Britta Fenniman Tonn who wander around Burlington reading history through signs.

 

Finding History in NJ on the D&R Canal

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Griggstown, NJ on the D&R Canal. 

As recent photographs indicate, I was in New Jersey a few weeks ago. I’m a native Long Islander (forever a Vermont flatlander) who grew up with jokes about New Jersey. Sorry, NJ, though I know you grew up with Long Island jokes. Fair is fair. My experience with New Jersey was limited to long trips that traversed the New Jersey Turnpike (traffic!) and getting lost on the Garden State Parkway (teenagers + navigation = trouble) and the Jersey Shore (great beaches, not to be confused with the TV show). Imagine my surprise while visiting friends in Princeton and we discovered the gorgeous architecture of Princeton and the unexpected discovery of the D & R Canal State Park.

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The Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park is a 77 mile linear park that transformed the former canal towpath into a recreational resource for walking, running, biking, horseback riding and kayaking. The canal opened in the 1830s, constructed (hand dug) by mostly Irish immigrants. Originally the canal connected the Delaware River to the Raritan River, the Philadelphia and New York City markets. The canal opened in 1834 and continued in operation until 1932. The land became a park in 1974. The heyday of the canal existed prior to the railroads. Mules towed canal boats, yachts, and vessels along the towpath, in the middle of or alongside the canal. The canals operated with locks and spillways to account for the elevation changes.

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Today you can see all of these elements on the D&R Canal on foot, on bike, on horse, or even driving from lock house to lock house.

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At the edge of Princeton, NJ in the village of Kingston. 

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View of the lock at Kingston. 

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Lock tender’s house, bridge, and the lock at Kingston. 

Further down the canal you’ll come to Griggstown.

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Historic Village of Griggstown, NJ. 

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The view of the canal from the bridge in Griggstown. 

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Wood deck bridge. 

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Griggstown, NJ. The building appears abandoned from the exterior, though a peak through the windows shows that it’s not. NJ State Parks have an ongoing restoration project. 

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The Long House, formerly a store and post office and grain storage. Currently under restoration for an interpretive center. 

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The bridge tender’s station. 

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The 1834 bridge tender’s house, built for the bridge tender and his family. Historically, the bridge tender had to raise the bridge for the boats and mules to pass along the canal. 

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A perfect, tiny front door on the bridge tender’s house. 

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An abandoned state park property in Griggstown, due to flooding damage. 

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More flood damage. Keep out! 

The canal continues on, and whether you travel by foot or bike or car, I’d recommend a visit!  Read more of the D&R Canal’s history here and plan your trip.  Have you been here? Or other canals? The C&O Canal is on my list, too.

With Your Coffee

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Traveling this weekend? Feels like spring. Have fun! Seen here: Vermont I-89.

Hello preservation friends and happy weekend! How goes it? Big successes to share? Are you simply glad to have made it through the week (preservation and life can do that to you once in a while. You are not alone)? What are you working on these days? Have you watched House of Cards yet? I’m super psyched to do some binge-watching. Here are a few links from around the web if you’re looking for something to read this weekend.

What have you been reading lately?

Coffee cheers!:)

 

Searching for a good preservation related podcast?

Need a preservation podcast? It took me a long time to get into podcasts. I’m the type of person who likes to have music playing all of the time, but podcasts to which I needed to pay attention were never quite my thing. However, after getting addicted to Serial podcast (Season 1) for my commute, I’ve been on the hunt for others that hold my attention.

I’ll browse Fresh Air, On Point and Vermont Edition to catch up on the news or hear new stories. I love Dear Sugar and Modern Love, and look forward to the new episodes every week. Yet, I was still looking for something preservation related or planning related. With a call to Twitter friends, @smithpres said 99% invisible is 100% awesome. She was right.

99% Invisible discusses the unnoticed architecture and design of the world that most of us do not stop to consider. Each episode has a unique topic and ranges from 15 min to 30+ minutes. You can scroll through the feed and listen to whateer catches your eye; no need to listen to them in order. There are so many fascinating episodes! I want to share so many new things with you! But, rather than reiterate what the podcast has to say, you should just listen to these episodes:

Episode 202: Mojave Phone Booth. There was a phone in the middle of the desert, miles away from pavement and towns.

Episode 200: Miss Manhattan. One woman was the model for so many of the statues in New York City.

Episode 188: Fountain Drinks. Did you know water fountains originated for public health reasons?

Episode 162: The Winchester Mystery House. It’s still a sad story, but not exactly what you think.

Episode 154: PDX Carpet. How the decades old carpet became a thing and became so loved.

Episode 93: Revolving Doors. The reason for the invention is hilarious.

Episode 75: Secret Staircases. What, there is more in LA than just freeways?

And there are so many more! Architecture, the built environment, random objects. I am obsessed. It’s like sitting in on my favorite class (Bob McCullough’s History on the Land at UVM) whenever I want.

Let me know which episode is your favorite, and of any other podcasts!

Abandoned Vermont: St. Albans Drive-in Theater (R.I.P)

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St. Albans Drive-in Movie Theater, as seen in May 2012. 

As of the 2012 photograph of the St. Albans Drive-in Theater, it was not abandoned. It was still open and operating, one of Vermont’s four remaining drive-in movie theaters.  As of 2014, the drive-in closed after 66 years of business, partially due to costs required to upgrade to the mandated digital projection from film reels. As of 2014, the land was for sale, and still is. Such is the fate of many drive-in theaters, especially on valuable land.

Because I’m a sentimental nostalgic fool for roadside America and Vermont, I wanted to photograph the St. Albans Drive-in Theater one more time, before it disappeared. On a cold, windy, February day, I said my goodbyes to this bit of roadside America.

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View from across US Route 7. Not as cheery as the 2012 view. February 2016. 


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Entrance & ticket booth to the drive-in. Still lined with lights. February 2016. 


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The speakers at the St. Ablans Drive-in theater were removed years ago. Instead, viewers tuned into the radio station. February 2016. 


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Ticket booth. February 2016. 


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No admission charge today. February 2016. 


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The screen is in disrepair and new traffic lights are in place for the development across the road. February 2016. 


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Stepping back you can vaguely see the remaining mounds in the earth for the cars to park. February 2016. 


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The snack bar (right) and the movie projection room (left). Note the chain protecting the projection. Windows are all broken. February 2016. 


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View of the playground and the dilapidated screen. February 2016. 


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The playground (swingset) remains intact, if not jumping out of the ground with its concrete foundation. Slide, two swings, rings, trapeze, bar, and see-saw. February 2016. 


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Beneath the screen looking into the drive-in. February 2016. 


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Pieces of the screen have fallen to the ground. February 2016. 


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Possibly from up there. February 2016. 


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The back of the screen. February 2016. 


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Some drive-in screens have their structures concealed. This one is out in the open, nothing too fancy. With high winds, the structure has to be sturdy. February 2016. 


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From the entrance road. February 2016. the marquee is barely visible, but you can see it to the right of the screen supports. February 2016. 

I can’t say for certain, but I would bet that one factor in the closure of the St. Albans drive-in is the construction and opening of this across the street:

As seen from the Walmart entrance road. February 2016.

With its October 2013 opening, I shared my lament.

Here is a great article from the St. Albans Messenger that highlights history and memories of the drive-in.

RIP St. Albans Drive-in. You’ll be missed by many.

What is Commercial Archeology?

Today’s post is a guest post from Raina Regan (also a repost from her blog). Raina is on the board of the Society for Commercial Archeology and often finds herself answering the question: “What is Commercial Archeology?”  Short answer: it’s not just archeology! Read on, and Raina will answer all of your questions and share how she got involved with the SCA. 

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Starlite Drive-in Theater, Bloomington, IN. Photo by Raina Regan. 

by Raina Regan

When I mention I’m currently on the board of directors for the Society for Commercial Archeology, I often get a lot of blank stares or questioning glances. “What exactly is Commercial Archeology?” they might ask.

A formal definition from the Dictionary of Building Preservation (1996) defines commercial archaeology as:

The study of artifacts, structures, signs, and symbols of the American commercial process; includes both mass-produced and vernacular forms of the machine age: transportation facilities, such as highways and bus stations; roadside development, such as diners, strip retail, and neon signs; business district buildings, such as movie theaters and department stores; and recreation facilities, such as amusement parks.

What do I define as commercial archeology? In short, structures and objects of the commercial landscape. We traditionally look at items starting in the 20th century, including neon signs, diners, theaters, and more.

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Oasis Diner, Plainfield, IN. Photo by Raina Regan. 

I’m not really sure how my passion for commercial archeology developed. I’ve always thought I should’ve lived during the 1950s because of my love of diners, seeing movies at drive-in theaters, and ranch houses. Since high school, architecture and history from the 20th century appealed to me the most and my interest in commercial archeology is a natural outreach of this.

My real beginnings with commercial archeology in my preservation career started in 2008. When I attended the National Preservation Conference in Tulsa, OK, I participated in a day-long field session on Route 66. We traveled a section of the historic road, with drive bys of former filling stations and repair shops. We stopped at several icons along the way, but two structures specifically inspired me as a preservationist and historian of commercial archeology.

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The Rock Cafe, Stroud, OK, undergoing rehabilitation following the fire. Photo by Raina Regan. 

The Rock Cafe in Stroud, OK was recovering from a devastating fire at the time of our visit. But meeting with the cafe’s owner, Dawn Welch, was particularly inspiring. She told us stories about the Cafe and her passion for the road was evident. She was the basis for the animated character Sally Carrera in Cars, one of my favorite preservation-related movies. I know they reopened in 2009 and would love to go back for a visit.

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Bridge 18, Rock Creek, Sapulpa, OK. Photo by Raina Regan. 

One of our first stops was at Bridge #18 at Rock Creek, Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Constructed in 1924 on the original Route 66 alignment, it is a Parker through truss and is still open to traffic on the historic Route 66. Seeing the original brick road was inspiring as a historian, allowing me to connect with all the travelers that had once traversed this bridge.

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Wishing Well Motel, Franklin, IN, off US 31. Photo by Raina Regan. 

What makes commercial archeology special? From a preservation point of view, I see commercial archeology as accessible to everyone. The nostalgia factor of commercial archeology means everyone can connect to these resources in some way. These are places in our every day life that we grow to love, and as they age and gain historic significance, they become a cultural icon. Many spots are located on highways or other roads, which means they become well-known and idolized within our communities.

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Ski-Hi Drive-in, Muncie, IN. Photo by Raina Regan. 

Structures such as diners, motels, gas stations, and theaters are ideal for continued use or adaptive reuse. However, commercial archeology mainstays including drive-in theaters, amusement parks, and neon signs may present more difficult challenges for preservation. For example, the Ski-Hi Drive In outside Muncie, Indiana is slated for demolition. Although the 1952 drive-in theater is a local icon and has strong local support for its preservation, it is located at the crossroads of IN-3 and SR 28 in rural Delaware County. Raising the money needed to return the site back to a drive-in is difficult, while there are not many adaptive use options for such a site. I attribute the strong local support for its preservation because of nostalgia and strong personal connection many have to the site.

As a board member of the Society for Commercial Archeology, I try to advocate for the preservation of these resources whenever possible. As preservationists, we should use these resources as ways to connect preservation to a broader audience.

Abandoned Vermont: Addison Town Hall (Alternatively: What about Rural Preservation?)

An upfront disclaimer: The Addison Town Hall is owned by the Town of Addison. Technically, it’s vacant, not abandoned. Due to its condition and the attention it requires, I categorize it as abandoned. 

The Addison Town Hall sits at the center of the village of Addison Four Corners in Addison, Vermont, at the junction of VT Route 22A and VT Route 17. Addison is a rural agricultural community in Addison County, with some remaining working dairy farms. The shores of Lake Champlain make up the western edge of the county.

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The Addison Town Hall and the Baptist Church are at the center of Addison Four Corners. Photo: January 2016.

The Addison Town Hall holds a place in my heart, because I studied the building during graduate school, and completed a building conditions assessment in 2010. And I passed through Addison Four Corners on my way to work at the Lake Champlain Bridge site for years. Since 2010, I’ve been visually monitoring the condition of the building.

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The Addison Town Hall, as seen in January 2016.

The Town Hall was built in 1872 and has served as a school, a town hall, town offices, and grange hall. As community needs changed, the interior was adapted, including  the second floor stage addition and partitions on the first floor. (See a few interior shots here.) School has not been in session since the 1950s. Today the town hall serves only as storage for the historical society and the neighboring Baptist church.

If memory serves, since October 2010 there have been a few frightening exterior developments.

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There is a clear separation of the foundation stones, northeast corner. January 2016.

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The northeast corner of the foundation is slipping, probably due to water damage. January 2016.

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The same issues on the southeast corner of the building. January 2016.

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The banks of windows would have been added when the standard school requirements of the 1930s were instated. January 2016. You can see all sorts of damage in this photo: collapsing back shed, weathering clapboards in need of a proper paint job, broken windows.

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View from the southwest shows the larger picture of deterioration, including the cupola. January 2016.

The deterioration of the Addison Town Hall brings up a more important conversation in preservation than one building.

The Addison Town Hall is an example of building located in a still active community, but a community that is rural and without all of the financial resources to rehabilitate this structure. What happens to a building that is a visual and physical landmark in a town, when there is not an obvious use for it?

A community’s needs change, and those changes often affect the buildings. Historic buildings with outdated purposes or those that are not up to code are left by the wayside with no plans and money.  What will happen to them? Imagine if a town center lost one of its prominent buildings. Rural communities have small village centers, with only a few buildings to represent the entire village. Loss of a town hall or a church or a school is devastating.

Urban preservation is a great conversation and a fun topic. But, frankly, it’s easier than rural preservation. There are more people, more opportunities for catalysts and funding. We should be talking more about alternative, creative uses for buildings in rural areas, where a one building win/loss can have much more of an impact than in an urban environment.

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Addison Four Corners, January 2016.

Internship Searching?

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The 1848 Greek Revival Congregational Church in Charlotte, VT on a snowy January afternoon. Fun fact: The steeple is topped with a pineapple finial. 

It’s that time of year: internship and/or job searching for many students or for those looking for a change. While you probably have excellent Googling skills, I thought it might helpful to have a list of sites to check frequently for postings. Some you might know, some might be new. If you have others, please share.

Internships are the best. I’ve waxed poetic about the benefits of internships previously, so I won’t go on and on. Instead, in summary: Internships.

  • Low paying? Yes. You can do it for a short time. Get roommates.
  • Short Term? Perfect. If you don’t like, not the end of the world.
  • Experience? Tons. You’re the intern. You can soak up all the information you need. And then take another internship!

Good luck searching. If you want to talk internships or job searching or grad school, send me an email or leave a comment. Have fun!

Also, Happy Groundhog Day. Winter, what winter (in Vermont)?

With Your Coffee

Welcome to the weekend! How’s it going? The flamingo in the photo above is from my sister who is exploring the wild American west (specifically Las Vegas as of lately). Of course, I asked for flamingos and she obliged. She sent some live flamingo photos, too, but you know I cannot resist flamingo kitsch. This week I worked on some blog formatting changes. If you haven’t noticed, check out the Series page and the drop down menu when you hover over it. I’ll be working to tidy up the blog and making it more accessible. Hope you like it! Now, for some links.

Have you read anything good this week? Please share!

Coffee cheers! Have a great weekend.