Preservation ABCs

A new school year has begun, and we’ve talked about preservation inspiration. Whether in school or not, we are constant preservation scholars learning how to read buildings, interpret regulations, apply tax credits, convey the preservation mission and many other tasks on a daily basis. Look at yourself one year ago – what new bits of information do you know? What connections to other fields do you see now that you haven’t seen before? What was your greatest work accomplishment in these past 12 months? Give yourself some credit and a pat on the back. Be proud and use that knowledge to continue doing your best. And now think about what you want to learn this year. What book do you want to read?

A couple of other preservation based blogs have good preservation education series if you want to learn a snippet at a time. Preservation in Mississippi (It Ain’t All Moonlight and Magnolias) has an “Architectural Word of the Week” series. Historic Indianapolis features a “Building Language” series. Check out their posts to improve your architectural vocabulary and understanding. For a good overview of terms, read the Historic Preservation Abbreviations You Should Know on HistPres.

Taking a cue from these great ideas, Preservation in Pink will begin featuring the ABCs of Historic Preservation, from A to Z, addressing the wide reach of historic preservation. We’ll start with A and work our way through the alphabet. If you have any ideas, send them along. Look for “A” later today. And follow the Preservation ABCs category for this series.

The Pierce School in Lunenburg, Vermont.

Preservation Photos #146

District #7 Schoolhouse in the Jericho Rural Historic District in White River Junction, VT. Currently it is the Jericho Community Center.

Read more about the Jericho Rural Historic District here.

Abandoned Vermont: Taplin School

This historic building appeared abandoned from the road; yet it always appeared to be kept up with some amount of care. The weathered gray clapboards, locked door, solid windows without broken panes and mowed lawn showed that someone used it recently.

Taplin School. It looks lonely, right?

It certainly could use a new coat of paint.

Old hardware on the front door.

At first, I couldn’t decipher exactly what it is. It has an institutional or civic look to it – something that isn’t quite residential.

It doesn't quite look like a school from here, either.

I peaked in the front windows, both of which appeared to have closets. I walked around back and saw the tell-tale sign of a schoolhouse.

The bank of windows, although the tree line is awfully close. It was obvious that this hadn't been a school for decades. I had never seen a schoolhouse with windows in the rear. Maybe this bank of windows was added when the school was modernized.

The building was empty inside, though I did notice a giant hole in the roof, debris on the floor and a damaged floor. Poor little schoolhouse.

Debris from the hole in the roof can be seen on the floor. The outline of a former chalkboard can be seen on the left - another sign of the schoolhouse!

You can see part of the roof damage on the eave.

Fortunately, I was able to find out the history of this building by looking in the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation files. It was built in the 1860s, modernized in the early 1900s to be a “Superior School” and operated as a school until the 1960s. The Division recorded the structure in 1976, and Green Mountain Power Company has owned the property at least since then. So, you could say that this building isn’t abandoned, but it certainly is neglected. And it needs a new roof! (Don’t worry, I’ve contacted the right people to inform them of the building’s condition.) Let’s hope it gets one before snow flies, because a hole in the roof can destroy an otherwise sound building.

Preservation Photos #100

The Old Schoolhouse in Isle La Motte, VT.

The schoolhouse was built in 1930 to serve the community and school children of Isle La Motte, and has been rehabilitated as a bed & breakfast/bike hostel. The chalkboards, entry hallway, window banks remain intact and the setting is phenomenal.

Abandoned Vermont: Charleston Schoolhouse

Schoolhouses seemed to be some of the most common abandoned buildings in rural areas and villages. Here is one near Charleston, VT.

The general form and the span of windows are two easy elements for how I immediately spot schoolhouses.

The rear addition - a covered walkway to the outhouse?

Another view.

The stone foundation, granite sill and clapboard siding.

Abandoned Vermont: Wheelock Schoolhouse

While traveling the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, a few friends and I came across a deteriorated concrete bridge. I have a newfound adoration for concrete bridges so we paused to look at it. When we turned to the side we saw an abandoned building that looked partially like a general store and partially like a school. It was boarded up so we couldn’t see much, but it was (of course) fascinating.

Small concrete bridges are all over backroads of Vermont. This one dates to 1934.

Unfortunately, this is what happens to concrete bridges that are not maintained. Another sad story for another post...

Located at the crossroads - a logical location. Interesting additions, yes?

It’s hard to figure out the history of the building without stepping inside, but I have some guesses. The front gable has “1924” in the peak, so that makes sense for a school (see the window picture, too). I peaked in where I could (without trespassing, fyi) and it seems like this was most recently a residence. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if it served as some sort of store, too.

Another view of the front.

See where it is boarded up? The long line of windows always indicated a 1920s/30s schoolhouse, when light and more sanitary buildings were very important in education reform. Usually there are at least 4 windows (judging by what I've seen so far - sometimes 6 or 7). This one has 5 windows.

A mattress frame, a window in front of a window. What gets left behind in abandoned buildings in often puzzling.

Layers of siding. Also, the rear addition (beginning on the right) was just abutting the front building, barely attached at all.

Often, the worst part about abandoned buildings is the feeling that they will be abandoned forever and eventually fall. What stories lie in this building, just sitting lonely on a dirt road in the Northeast Kingdom.



Preservation Photos #85

An 1896 schoolhouse in East Poultney, VT.

The schoolhouse faces the East Poultney Village Green. To listen to part of the East Poultney walking audio tour, click here and then click on the “1896 schoolhouse.”  The short audio clip (2:23) discusses the context of the building’s history and architecture. The schoolhouse functioned as a school until 1966.  What a great online resource! Download the audio clips to take them on the go.

Preservation Photos #34

At Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury, MA, the Redstone School moved by Henry Ford because of its significance with the girl Mary of the poem, Mary Had a Little Lamb.