Spotlight on the Historic Bridge Foundation, Part Two

Yesterday we started talking about historic bridges as a way to introduce the Historic Bridge Foundation (HBF). Have you heard of the HBF prior to this? If not, let’s get you acquainted, as HBF is one organization you should know for your historic preservation projects.

HBF

The Historic Bridge Foundation is a national advocacy organization for the preservation of historic bridges in the United States. HBF achieves its mission through the following avenues:

  • Service as a clearinghouse for information on the preservation of historic bridges via a website, electronic newsletters or alerts, and directory of consultants
  • Identification of and communication with individuals and groups interested in the preservation of historic bridges
  • Consultation with public officials to devise reasonable alternatives to demolishing or adversely affecting historic bridges
  • Development of educational programs to promote awareness of historic bridge

How can the HBF help you? HBF provides support and resources. You’ll most likely be looking for help if you have a historic bridge threatened with demolition. You can start by reading How to Save a Bridge. This page has a list of contractors who have worked with historic bridges, steps to get you started for rounding up community members, as well as case studies of historic bridge projects.

When you’re hoping to save a historic bridge you need to know how the project is being funded, because that determines which regulations apply. If it’s federal funding, Section 106 comes into play. If it’s federal transportation dollars, then Section 4(f) applies. Both of these federal laws require public input from stakeholders. That’s you!, but you have to get organized. HBF offers guidance on that. HBF will point you in the direction of the resources you need.

Want to get involved and keep up with the Historic Bridge Foundation? Follow HBF on Facebook or Sign up for the newsletter. Questions? Need help? Have something to offer? Contact the Executive Director Kitty Henderson at kitty@historicbridgefoundation.com. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Kitty, she’s extremely passionate, knowledgeable, and dedicated to the cause. She’s a guardian angel for historic bridges!

If you’re at the NTHP Conference in Savannah, stop by the HBF table in the Preservation Studio and talk to Nathan Holt, the creator of Historicbridges.org and the newsletter editor for HBF.

What is Your Community Wish?

It’s summertime (just about) and the weather beckons us to appreciate our downtowns and the surrounding landscapes, whether you prefer strolling in the commercial district, spending the day in a park or taking an adventure. What is your favorite summertime activity? How do you show your love for your community?

Strolling through historic downtown St. Albans, VT.

Part of loving your community means considering where it is going. What would you like to change about where you live, or what would you like to add? Maybe it’s something as simple as benches in the park. Or maybe you’d like to see more businesses in town. Perhaps a historic building in town needs some help. Get out, enjoy the sunshine and daydream about your “ideal” place to live. You never know, you could be thinking the same thing as many others. Don’t be afraid to bring up your idea.

Studying and Evaluating Ranch Houses

As odd as this is for me to admit (again), ranch houses are growing on me. But, let’s clarify here, by ranch houses I mean those carefully designed, not your standard, modern ranch house. Ranch houses have an interesting history, and when considered in context, it is possible to appreciate the ranch house.

Clearly, the folks in Georgia are light years ahead of me in terms of appreciation and study of the ranch house. New South Associates has recently released, The Ranch House in Georgia: Guidelines of Evaluation. It is a beautiful, colorful, fun, thorough and intriguing publication — one that will make you look differently than ranch houses.

The Ranch House in Georgia

The Ranch House in Georgia discusses the context for ranches, their architectural typology, how to identify and categorize ranch houses, and their period of significance. I love it.

As far as I know, 200+ page document is only available as a PDF. If it were a book, I’d buy it!

If you’re interested, here’s the press release from New South Associates:

The Ranch House in Georgia: Guidelines for Evaluation was awarded national public history prize. The Guidelines also received an award from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Ranch House in Georgia: Guidelines for Evaluation, authored by Mary Beth Reed and Patrick Sullivan and designed by Tracey Fedor, lays the groundwork for the research, survey, and evaluation of the Ranch House in Georgia for preservation professionals. Funded by the Georgia Transmission Corporation, the document is one of the first in the nation focusing on this iconic mid-century house type. The authors collaborated with the Georgia Historic Preservation Division, the Georgia Transmission Corporation, and the Georgia Department of Transportation in the effort, producing a history of the Ranch House, a field guide for its identification, and evaluation tools to assess eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places. Since its release in 2010, the Guidelines has received the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation Service Award and has been named recipient of The National Council on Public History’s 2011 Michael C. Robinson Prize for Historical Analyses that recognizes studies that directly contribute to public policy formation. The Guidelines and Georgia’s approach to Ranch House architecture have also been featured in an article by Dr. Richard Cloues of the Georgia Historic Preservation Division in the Winter 2011 issue of the Recent Past.

New South Associates is a women-owned small business providing cultural resource management services, both nationally and internationally. Incorporated in Georgia in 1988, the firm has grown to include offices in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The firm’s work has been recognized for its ability to integrate studies of sites and structures of the past, with planning and construction for the future. New South Associates is a historic preservation and cultural resources management consultant, providing archaeology, history, architectural history, preservation planning, and public interpretation resources as well as cemetery, geophysical and subsistence studies. To learn more, visit our website at www.newsouthassoc.com or contact Kristen Puckett. Share on Facebook or Twitter.

A Life in the Trades: September 2010

Series introduction. October 2009. November 2009. December 2009. January 2010. February 2010. March 2010. April 2010. May 2010. June 2010.

By Nicholas Bogosian

While earning my B.A. at the University of Houston, the ritual of buying new textbooks for each new semester was a chore. Perhaps I was just unfocused or insincere with the major I had chosen. I looked forward to the possible returns when I would be able to sell them back at the end of the semester. Of course, I kept a few.

Now that I have found my way into the Building Preservation & Restoration program at Belmont Technical College, the acquisition of new books each quarter feels like a true investment. I wouldn’t give up a single one. For a program that has a reputation for an intensive hands-on curriculum, our book load seems equal to my B.A. studies, if not more. Perhaps this should come as no surprise.

I recall a past PiP post in which Kaitlin offered photo of her school books with pride [see here and here]. This month I wanted to do the same and let readers in on the great books to which the BPR program has introduced me.

Keeping Time by William J. Murtagh. A concise study of the history and theory of preservation in America.

The Decoration of Houses by Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman Jr. “…it might be argued that it is among the most influential books about decoration and architecture ever published in the United States.” (Richard Guy Wilson)

Downtown by Robert M. Fogelson. An in-depth history of the rise and fall of “downtown.”

Structures or Why Things Don’t Fall Down by J.E. Gordon. A richly colored exploration into the world of Building physics.

The Blacksmith by Aldren A. Watson. Beautifully illustrated and nostalgic manual on the life and work of the early blacksmith.

Science for Conservators Volumes One & Two by The Conservation Unit of the Museums & Galleries Commission. The definitive textbooks for anybody entering the field of conservation. An introduction to the chemistry of materials and the chemistry of cleaning.

Construction Contracting by Richard H. Clough, Glenn A. Sears, & S. Keoki Sears. A very thick book with ant-sized type exploring the entire world of Construction: estimating, bidding, management, labor laws, insurance, etc.

Conserving Buildings by Martin E. Weaver. The preservation classic that explores the various techniques for conserving various materials in various types of deterioration.

Everyday Life in Early America by David Freeman Hawke. A brief social history of early America. Topics include: floor plans, “what they ate,” recreation, language, etc.

The Reshaping of Everyday Life (1790-1840) by Jack Larkin. A Distinguished Finalist for the P.E.N./Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction in 1989. The second part in the social history series.

Fundamentals of Building Construction by Edward Allen & Joseph Iano. A mammoth book on the complexities of building construction.

Understanding Wood Finishing by Bob Flexner. A truly comprehensive and easy-to-understand manual on all the various wood finishes. Considered the “bible of wood finishing.”

Basic Plumbing with Illustrations by Howard C. Massey. Uncluttered visuals pack this very handy manual.

Recording Historic Structures, edited by John A. Burns. Documentation from the perspective of the National Park Service. Rich with illustrations and photographs of case studies.

Structural Investigation of Historic Buildings by David C. Fischetti, PE. Fischetti is in the rare breed of “Preservation Structural Engineer.” Not only does the book explore many case studies of structural stabilization, but gives impassioned advice to structural engineers who tend to discredit our historic built environment.

Historic Preservation Technology by Robert A. Young, PE. An introduction into the world of Building Pathology & Preservation methodology.

The Very Efficient Carpenter by Larry Haun. Larry Haun invented the phrase “no nonsense.” All the “tricks of the trade” in one concise manual for basic building carpentry.

Architectural Graphics by Francis D.K. Ching. Introduction into the world of the architect: essential drawing tools, principles, and techniques designers use to communicate architectural ideas.

The Complete Manual of Woodworking by Albert Jackson, David Day, & Simon Jennings. Wonderfully detailed and clearly illustrated manual on all aspects of wood working: wood science, joinery, machine tools, chair making, marquetry, etc.

Plastering Skills by Van Den Branden/Hartsell. An in-depth manual on the science of various plasters, their various uses in buildings, plaster tools, and even work ethics.

Dictionary of Building Preservation, edited by Ward Bucher. With more than 10,000 terms, I can always count on this dictionary to have what I’m looking for. Everything from “King of Prussia Marble” to “out of plumb” to “State Historic Preservation Office.”

Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture, edited by Cyril M. Harris. Over 5,000 important terms complemented by over 2,000 line drawings. Everything from ancient ruins to 20th-century Modernism.

House Histories by Sally Light. Light’s house curiosities become infectious. She is able to communicate the entire process of historic research for our historic structures for preservationists and non-preservationists alike.

The Lost Art of Steam Heating by Dan Holohan. Holohan is vividly in love with steam heating and I couldn’t help but become engrossed myself.

Know Your Standards!

By standards, I mean the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.  Essentially, rehabilitation takes a historic building and adapts it for modern use. However, it is more complicated than that.

First, why would you want to follow the standards? The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards are used in determining if a project will qualify for a historic tax credit. So, you can get the tax credit if you follow the standards. Second, as of right now, the tax credit can only apply to income producing properties; in other words, not your private home (but a rental home counts).

Alright, so when talking about tax credits and standards, you should also know that in order for a property to be considered for this tax credit, it must be eligible for or listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  If your property isn’t already listed, be prepared for research!

Now, you have an income producing property eligible for or on the National Register. Perfect! Now you can get to work. Hang on, this is where the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation come into play. Basically, they are guidelines to follow in order to maintain the integrity and character defining features of your historic property. After all, if a rehabilitation erased everything important about the building then it would no longer be eligible for the National Register. See how it works?

There are 10 standards to follow, to know, to memorize, to justify to the National Park Service that you adhered to. Want a fun way to learn them? Take the electronic rehab course offered by the NPS – an interactive web “course.” (One of my professors shared this link with us.) You can review all 10 standards, see them in action, and then take a quiz to see what you’ve learned!  If you don’t have time in a classroom or with a group discussing the standards, this is an excellent starting point! (Actually, even being a student talking about, I find this to be a good review.)  Enjoy! Thanks again, NPS!

Voice as a Powerful Primary Source

As the Overhills project comes to a close, I spend my time organizing files, editing the report, planning its distribution and doing the last few weeks of work and necessary communication that comes with closing a project. I have catalogued over 700 photographs from Overhills, and most of the time I feel it is sewn into my memory. How could I possibly squeeze one more Overhills fact into my brain? Yet this past week we have added two new interviews (i.e. more facts, stories, and memories), one of them a second interview and one a new interviewee that we had never able to find during the interviewing phase.

Prior to this week, the last of the 30+ interviews took place in January 2008. I hadn’t transcribed an interview in its entirety in just as long. This project phase of writing and editing brought me to view Overhills in another angle, in a more reflective, analytical way. Yet now that I am transcribing a few more hours of Overhills stories and memories, I return to that first world of Overhills that I entered.  Listening to these interviews I am reminded of everyone’s love for Overhills and of how this place truly was their home or second home. Listening and transcribing has that effect. I am studying someone’s words, the tone of his voice, and actually seeing what he is saying. It is in his words, spoken and then transcribed, that I am drawn back to Overhills, to the buildings, the people, the day to day life, and the voices that I’ve met and become familiar with throughout this project.  It’s a comfortable world that I’m visiting; I know the peoples and places to which my interviewee refers and I’m content to listen, type, and absorb.

And while I can’t say that, in the past, I have made an effort to pay attention to the audio exhibits at historic sites and in museums, I can say now that if you want to truly understand a place or an event, the best thing to do is to listen to a primary source. A few minutes of an authentic voice sharing history with you, the listener and learner, and you’ll be transported to the scene in history. Reading a transcript or reading an exhibit display does not compare to audio of an oral history project.  The next time I want to truly visit a historic site, event, or landscape, I will eagerly consider the audio tour or exhibit that features audio recordings.

Field School

With spring looming, we’re all dreaming of warm weather days, road trips, outdoor field trips, warmer survey weather, spring break, internships, summer jobs, graduation…among other things. One idea you should consider is participating in a field school this spring or summer.  Whether you’re in preservation or considering preservation, a field school can give you the perfect opportunity to do hands-on work and participate in group projects. While some field schools last weeks and months and cost thousands of dollars, there are often local workshops that you can attend and shorter field schools. If you’re employed, perhaps you have professional development funds or at least a few vacation days for a field school. Your best resource is to peruse the academic programs’ websites or PreserveNet postings. If you have the time and the money, the field lengthy field schools sound fantastic! See the University of Oregon, the University of Virginia, John Cabot University, and Old Salem Museums and Gardens, to name just a few – but there are many more. If anyone is interested in a longer list, leave a comment here or send an email.

I would recommend Poplar Forest Restoration Field Schoolas the best preservation field school, for many reasons. First, if you are consider the financial aspect, you cannot beat the price.  For two weeks, the $350 tuition covers materials, field trips, and everything else at the school. And, for lodging, all field school students stay in nearby Lynchburg College dorms for about $30/day.  Food and transportation to Poplar Forest are your responsibility.  Right around $700 with the known costs so far, that is so much cheaper than any other field school.  Now, for the content. The days are action packed, long days divided between lectures, field work, and site visits. Travis McDonald, the Director of Restoration at Poplar Forest, has been teaching the field school for almost two decades. He is wonderful. He’ll address documentation, conservation, restoration, investigation, curation, and so much more. On the website you can see a typical field school schedule. Two weeks was the perfect length for an intensive field school. I cannot say enough about Poplar Forest. I attended last year and wrote about it in these posts. (Or just read the posts from May-June 2008 and one is September 2008).  To apply, you have to write a cover letter and submit one letter of recommendation by April 29, 2009. If you love preservation or are interested in the field, you will not regret it.  There is also a month-long Poplar Forest Archaeology Field School and I can only imagine that it’s as good as the Restoration Field School.  Apply by April 8, 2009.

Enjoy the upcoming spring season and get outside! Field schools are an excellent chance to out of the office and out of the classroom.