First, the PHW office will be closed on Monday, May 27. We hope you all have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend!
Second, we are closing in on the end of PHW’s fiscal year on May 31. If you haven’t renewed your membership from the 2018-2019 fiscal year or want to make a donation, you can still send in a check to 530 Amherst St., Winchester, VA 22601. We also have two online credit card options. If you want to make a one-time payment or donation, we recommend the donation option. If you’d prefer to have yearly renewals set up automatically, you can select your membership level from the drop down menu on the Subscription option.
Third, if you have noticed a preservation project that deserves recognition in Winchester or Frederick County at PHW’s Annual Meeting, fill out a nomination form and let us know! For best consideration for a 2019 award, please return nominations by May 31. You don’t need to have all the information, but as much as you can provide will be helpful. Winners will be recognized at the 55th Annual Meeting on June 23.
If you know or have children in the 10-14 year age range and you need some ideas for summer activities in July, check out “Expedition Winchester.” This summer camp is themed around Winchester’s 275th anniversary and has a fantastic slate of programs, sites, and activities. Week 1 (beginning of Winchester through late 19th century) runs from July 8-12, and week 2 (late 19th century Winchester to today) runs July 15-19. Both camps are held between 9 AM and 3 PM. Each week is $55, or you can register for both weeks for just $100. Spots are still available as of May 23, but make sure you register by June 12! Go to https://webtrac.winchesterva.gov, click on “Special Events and Trips,” and you should see the options for Expedition Winchester.
Last, we found another history account of Winchester in the August 1, 1900 edition of Musical Million this week. While we spotted a few factual errors, there were also some tidbits we had not seen before. You may read the article “The City of Winchester and its Historic Associations” on Virginia Chronicle.
PHW recently had a small boom in our office library thanks to the donation of a box of books from Dick and Dorothea Malsbary. The new additions are mostly on the broad scope and history of American architecture and historic preservation. If this is the first you’re hearing of PHW’s non-circulating library, you can actually check out our catalog online at LibraryThing. We have our books and some periodicals cataloged here.
We are always open for book donations in the fields of architecture, architectural history, landscape and exterior design, interior design, local history (primarily Winchester and Frederick County, but we have a few bits of Clarke County as well), historic preservation, and related fields. If you are downsizing your books and think you might have some things that would be good for our collection, drop us a note. We’d be happy to look over your offerings and we can work with you for in-kind donations for tax purposes.
Our other major book news is that we are very close to finalizing the reprint of the Winchester: Limestone, Sycamores & Architecture book. The book is mostly the same, with minor text edits and corrections throughout, a new introduction to the 275th Anniversary edition, a completely overhauled appendix of contributing buildings in Winchester’s National Register District, an index to the text and images, and a new jacket design. In short, the book is essentially a revised second edition, with the bulk of the revisions tackling consistency and grammar instead of new text and images. While we don’t have a date yet for books to be in hand, we hope to have them in time for our Bough & Dough Shop in November.
Last, while we have you thinking about books, you might also want to check out some recommended historic preservation books from the National Trust and Goodreads communities. Of course, if you are inspired to buy some books from Amazon, we would be thrilled if you made your purchase through our AmazonSmile link so PHW gets a small donation at no extra cost to you. It’s a small percentage, but we are always grateful for a little surprise deposit from Amazon now and then.
We have been so pleased with the interest shown in our happy hour event tonight, 5 PM at 522 S. Loudoun St. Just a couple notes as you get ready:
Parking is always tricky on Loudoun Street. We ask you respect private driveways as you arrive tonight. Be alert for pedestrians walking in the area from the adjoining streets.
There will be a PHW banner on the porch of 522 S. Loudoun by 5 PM so you can find the house more easily.
We will have mainly wine, craft beer, and light snacks – it will probably not be enough to replace your dinner!
If the weather cooperates (fingers crossed!), we may be able to utilize the rear yard as well for socializing.
It is perfectly fine to just stop in for a couple minutes and say hi or check on your dues. You do not have to arrive at exactly 5 PM. We will not have a program of activities so you will not miss any announcements.
We will, however, have nametags so you can put a face to a name of our current and potential new board members and volunteers. Several of our Holiday House Tour homeowners also plan to stop in tonight, so you can get an early glimpse of how our Holiday House Tour Through History is shaping up.
We will also have a few dates for you to save, upcoming events to mark on your calendars, and some of the new 275 Years of History and Architecture tour brochures for you to pick up (they are a fabulous update thanks to the work of Tim Youmans, Jennifer Bell, Renee Bayliss, and Sandra Bosley – check it out even if you have an older version!)
The PHW office will be closing up by about 3:30 so we can get set up for the event. We’ll see you all tonight!
It’s a short post this week as we know you are all focused on Apple Blossom this weekend. If you get a few quiet minutes, we have a little bit of reading for you to enjoy:
May is Preservation Month! The National Trust has a suggestion of 31 activities to celebrate and enjoy historic places near you. They also have a discussion post going on the forum for other activities from across the country. You can celebrate with PHW next Friday, May 10, at 522 S. Loudoun Street, starting at 5 PM for our free Happy Hour.
One of the things the national preservation movement is moving toward is a focus on supporting community, not just properties of significance. It’s a monumental ideal, and if you’d like a glimpse at some of the thoughts preservation professionals are having for our “future significant” buildings, stories, and communities, there was a good discussion post at the end of April you may want to check out.
You’ve probably been doing some spring cleaning to get ready for the Bloom. Preservation Virginia has a few tips for cleaning some historic items. We will reiterate that if you are at all unsure or you feel the item is too delicate, the best course of action is NOT to attempt cleaning. You can make things much worse by being too aggressive or using the wrong materials.
We also want to thank all our “spring cleaners” who have dropped off bags and packing materials at the Hexagon House. It is a small thing, but we are so grateful for your help. Your donations help us keep our Bough & Dough Shop overhead costs to a minimum by not purchasing new bags and bubble wrap. We also share with our upstairs neighbor ShenArts so they can safely transport pieces between the gallery and the Hexagon House. We will still gladly take more bags and bubble wrap through the spring and summer.
May is almost here! To start the event off right, you may want to visit the Garden Tour this weekend – there are a number of fabulous homes in Winchester on the tour this year. You can learn more and buy tickets online here.
As anyone familiar with Winchester knows, the first weekend in May is part of the Apple Blossom Festival, so the PHW Office will be closed Friday, May 3. Enjoy a safe and happy Bloom!
Then on the next Friday, May 10, PHW will be hosting our Preservation Month celebration at 522 S. Loudoun Street. The event begins at 5 p.m. and is free and open to the public. If you have interest in our historic buildings in Winchester and want to get more involved ,we encourage you to come out and meet us. We’ll also be able to renew or take new memberships at the event. It seems like the event is generating a lot of interest, so we are looking forward to meeting and talking to all of you!
Additionally, PHW is still soliciting ideas for preservation awards for people and projects in Winchester and Frederick County. If you have some ideas, you can find our nomination form online here. Make sure to get it in by May 31 for the best chance to be considered for recognition!
If you own a property in Winchester’s Historic District and you’ve always wanted one of the oval historic building plaques but never knew how to get one, we encourage you to apply for recognition at the Board of Architectural Review. Plaques are acted upon in May as part of the Preservation Month activities. You can find information on the plaque process and costs at the City’s website under the heading “Is your property located in a Historic District?”.
While not exactly preservation-related, you may also want to mark May 17 on your calendars. City Code Officials will be hosting a free cookout in honor of National Building Safety Month at the Old Frederick County Courthouse on the Loudoun Street Mall between 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Officials will be available to answer questions and provide information on decks, pools, fences, smoke detectors, permits and more. Be sure to stop by!
While the PHW office is closed for the holiday, we still have a few bits of reading for you to enjoy over your weekend.
Are you wondering what historic preservationists do? Jeremy Wells created a short document detailing his findings of what career paths historic preservation training might lead to. If you are curious about working at a place like PHW, staff here would have to be versed in every one of his points as we are often the first line of contact on a variety of topics, but we work most with the “regulatory compliance” and “historic site” categories. While working as a single staff-person is challenging, it can also be incredibly rewarding if you enjoy learning new skills to expand your resume. You can also check out the blog post at the National Trust and the continuing discussion on the Forum for other perspectives on working in this field. Several comments point out how student interns are often looking for research opportunities. If you are a student looking to get experience typical of historic preservation fields in a self-directed format, PHW may be a great option for you. We would love more in-depth deed/will/tax record research for some of our historic district properties. While hunting down a chain of owners might seem inconsequential when you are in the midst of it, putting the chain together has helped countless people who needed a starting point for future research. Keep that in mind if you are a student needing some hours and wanting a nice point on future resumes!
While looking into the history of the John Mann Church on East Cork Street, we found a small article from 1914 on the parsonage, called “Pastor Too Tall for Parsonage.” We’re not sure from this little article if they were able to raise the roof 313 South Kent Street for their pastor, but if so, finding an article like this is a nice historic documentation of a change to the building and the reasoning behind it.
In many of the discussions around new construction in the historic district, we’ve seen a trend towards “all or nothing” thinking, with no medium option on the table. If you’re wondering why, you might be interested in “The Death of the Suburban Fourplex” at Strong Towns. While it focuses on Michigan, it is a great overview of how the fourplex (a building constructed to resemble a suburban split level but with four housing units) rose to prominence, became loathed, and were zoned out of existence.
Last, and most important, there are some proposed changes to the National Register process that are extremely troubling. In essence, large landowners input would be weighted more heavily than individual property owners, federal agencies would have unprecedented “pocket veto” powers on nominations, and Section 106 review would be stripped from certain properties. We suggest reading “Dire Consequences for the National Register,” “Proposed Rule Changes to National Register of Historic Places Nominations,” and “Proposed Regulations on the Listing of Properties in the National Register of Historic Places” and making comments on the proposal before April 30. Several of the links will take you directly to forms where you can submit comments online or provide the address for physical letters to be delivered. Most of our larger success stories of preservation in Winchester are because we have a National Register Historic District which enables the use of historic tax credits to make otherwise impossible preservation tasks attainable, like the George Washington Hotel and the Lewis Jones Knitting Mill. Millbank in Frederick County was spared from demolition in the 1980s in part because of the Section 106 review for mitigation on the Third Battle of Winchester. The original 1980 historic district listing also helped avert a potential insurance crisis for the Old Town area, thanks to the exemptions historic recognition can provide for historically flood-prone properties. We are also extremely troubled at the potential impacts on nominations for tribal lands. While we recognize this is not a likely impact for our area, you can find examples of how such proposed changes will produce a negative impact at Living Landscape Observer. Again, we hope that you will review the proposed changes and submit your comments before April 30.
National Preservation Month is celebrated every May across America. This year, PHW will be hosting Happy Hour on Friday, May 10 at 522 South Loudoun Street in Winchester. This free event is open to the public. If you are interested in old buildings, the historic district, learning about our organization and events, meeting some PHW board members and staff, and getting involved in PHW, this is the event for you.
We know most of our members renew in the spring and early summer, so we can take dues (cash, check, or card) at this event. Printed invitations will be going out in about a week, but we encourage you to start spreading the word now. If you can’t attend, pass the invitation on to a friend! You can also find this event on Facebook.
Happy Friday! We had a not terribly funny April Fool’s Day issue this week with the website. As you may have seen, our website was offline for over 24 hours. After checking in with our provider, the issue was someone using the server where PHW’s website resides for spam emails. While our website is back up, our mailing list may not be functional yet because of someone else being inconsiderate. With that in mind, we will have to keep the topics rather broad this week – no time sensitive events. If you receive this email weeks into the future and have no idea why its so late, now you know.
For some more reading, we came across an article on General Daniel Morgan written about ninety years after his death and thought others may like to see the historic perspective on his life in the area in the 1890s. Much of it may be familiar to you, but if you would like to peer back through time, you can find the story in Our Church Paper (Evangelical Lutheran Church paper for New Market and Shenandoah County), March 17, 1897 on page 4. It took a while longer than the author of this article likely could have anticipated, but at long last we do have a monument to Daniel Morgan near the site of his first interment, and the children of Winchester will learn his name through attending Daniel Morgan Middle School.
The CUP for the Old Hospital at 333 W. Cork St. was approved with twelve conditions at the March 26 City council meeting. You can review to conditions on the City’s website. While this may not meet all the hopes of the neighbors, particularly on design and materials of the new construction, at least some of the valid concerns about parking and neighborhood disturbance are addressed. We are also pleased to see the addition of more greenspace at street level. This would not have happened without the dedicated efforts of the neighborhood steering committee staying engaged and focused, and we admire your tenacity and attention to detail throughout this process.
If the warmer weather has you in the mood to do some spring cleaning, PHW has a few requests for odds and ends type donations: Hanging folder plastic tabs (2″ clear plastic preferred), freestanding counter/tabletop displays (particularly something like spice racks or CD/DVD racks that can fit in our window ledges), pegboard (can be various odd sizes), and Christmas light strings with replaceable bulbs (strings can be working or non-working). We are also prepared to receive donations of gently used shopping bags – our preference right now is for paper bags with handles. If you have items to donate, drop us a line at 540-667-3577 or stop by the office at 530 Amherst St.
In the theme of spring cleaning, we enjoyed 10 Stories About the Things You’ve Found While Moving. Most of the stories highlighted seem to feature things left behind by previous occupants or hidden in the walls. Newspapers in walls, under floors, or along sills is a common find for anyone who has worked in older homes, and while you probably don’t need to keep each scrap you find, it can be useful to find a date or two on the sheets and give yourself a time-frame on when changes might have taken place. For a whole different level of an unusual find inside a house, check out Found: A Historic Trolley Hidden Inside a House!
For something a bit different, you might remember a number of reports of “comet eggs” reprinted in various Out of the Past newspaper collections. One example story can be found in the Stanton Spectator. The belief at the time was the comet was provoking strange reactions from animals, particularly from hens who looked up at the night sky and laid eggs in the same color and shape as the comet. While these reports were fascinating and a bit farfetched, it was hard to imagine seeing one of these “comet eggs” today. Of course, someone out there saved an example, and you can Meet the ‘Comet Egg,’ Which Definitely Did Not Come From Space from the 1986 visit of Halley’s Comet.
Last, if you are up for a bit of fantastic fiction involving a hexagon house, we came across the story “A Psychological Wonder” by George L. Byington. It was reprinted in Northern Neck News of July 29, 1910 on page 4. We found the story while searching for the term “hexagon,” and the initial description of the house bore an uncanny resemblance to the Winchester Hexagon House (particularly around 1910, when our house was soon to be between long-term owners.) Of course we kept reading to see if we could unearth clues on this building, and instead found a haunted house story. After a bit of digging to see where the story originated, we found the copyright entry tracing it back to The Ossining Daily Citizen in 1910. Ossining is in New York along the Hudson River – a prime area for polygonal houses. While it isn’t clear which of the 100+ known polygonal structures in New York might have served as inspiration for this tale (although the nearby Armour–Stiner House would top my list for inspiring architecture), the narrator’s approach to spending a night in a hexagon house is a good illustration of how captivating and mysterious these homes have always been.
Belle Grove Plantation opens for the 2019 season tomorrow, March 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Manor House tour admission will be free of charge. Throughout Opening Day, guided tours will begin at :15 and :45 past the hour with the first tour beginning at 10:15 a.m. and the last tour beginning at 3:15 p.m. You can find more details on Facebook.
Handley Regional Library is getting a new website next week. On March 27 between 6 a.m.-8 a.m., the website and catalog will be updating, so you may experience a brief interruption of service. The website URL will still be www.handleyregional.org. You can find more information about the upcoming change on this page of their site. This will probably impact some links in the PHW website’s research section, so we will update those when the changes go live.
Tim Youmans, Winchester Planning Director and local historian, will provide an overview of Winchester’s history at the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society’s annual meeting on March 28 at 7 p.m. in Rouss City Hall, 15 N. Cameron St. This event is free and open to the public. You can find the event on Facebook here.
We also had a question about “Winchester mantels” this week. You might have heard us or other groups point them out at house tours in the past. They are a visually distinctive mantel ornamentation that contains one to three very sharply tapered “knife shelf” ledges of molding beneath the mantel shelf. Many examples are much more pronounced and deeply cut that the example photo (roughly, the finer the home, the more deeply the molding was cut). The term appears to have been coined by Irvan O’Connell, Sr. as he worked on restoring homes in the 1960s. The mantels are believed to date to 1820-1840, but examples have been transplanted to different locations around town over the years and should not be used as a sole indicator of house age. If this has whetted your appetite to learn more about Winchester’s local woodworking styles and expressions, a few copies of Interior Woodwork of Winchester, Virginia are out in the wild, or you may stop by PHW’s library to check out our non-circulating copy.