Friday Roundup: Holiday House Tour and More!

Happy Friday! It has been a hectic few weeks behind the scenes pulling Holiday House Tour together this year. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, there will be some changes to the tour schedule and offerings this year. While we are not 100% finalized, we are now looking at daylight tours only on the afternoon of Saturday and Sunday, December 1 & 2, 2018. Expanding on the experiment last year, there will be guided walking tours to take you past the sites open on the tour; like last year we anticipate the last guides will depart at 4 PM to give you time to complete tours by 5 PM. Details are still being finalized, so expect a final update with site announcements closer to Halloween.

Tomorrow is the grand Unveiling of the Shenandoah Valley Tapestry Project! It will take place Saturday, October 20th from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM at The Village at Orchard Ridge 400 Clocktower Ridge Dr, Winchester, VA. From the latest news on the parking: “All parking for the event is complimentary and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please plan to arrive early, so you can take care of parking. It takes 5-7 minutes to walk from some distant parking lots to the venue. Please follow designated pedestrian routes from the lots to the venue. Accessible parking can be found near the main entrance to the Village at Orchard Ridge. Please follow directional signage and directions from event staff for accessible parking locations.” We hope many of you will be able to attend and see the tapestry in all its glory!

Also on tap tomorrow is the Green Neighborhood Expo in Old Town Winchester, 11 AM-3PM. Stop by to learn about sustainability practices, energy, soil and water conservation, gardening, native plants to Winchester, recycling, tree care, and more. There will be educational displays, interactive demos and experts available to answer your questions. The event is free and open to the public, brought to you by the City’s Environmental Sustainability Taskforce. For more information, email the EST at est@winchesterva.gov.

While you are downtown, you may want to pop in to Winchester Book Gallery’s new location at 7 N. Loudoun for a book signing with author John Plashal for A Beautifully Broken Virginia. You can read a bit more about the book at the blog DC by Design between 11AM-1PM.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding as we work on the last bits of Holiday House Tour. We have a lot of changes on tap for the Tour and for the Shop, so expect a few bumps along the road – however, we still believe we have a great tour lined up and are excited to share it with you!

Friday Roundup: Two Saturday Events and More Curated Reading

First, we want to share two events are taking place Saturday. While inclement weather cancelled Celebracion, Winchester Main Street Foundation is on again for a rain or shine event! Start your morning at the North End Community Clean Up. Meet at Highland Memorial Presbyterian Church, 446 Highland Ave. about 8:30 – 9 a.m. to receive your tools and instructions. Lunch will be provided at the end of the event. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, dress for the weather, and bring work gloves if you have them. Find more details at the City website or on Facebook.

Don’t forget City of Winchester Planning Director Tim Youmans will host a repeat performance of his in-depth history of Winchester on Saturday as well. The event is sponsored by Friends of the Handley Library at 11 a.m. The event is free and open to the public and will be held in the Handley Regional Library auditorium, 100 W. Piccadilly St.

On to the curated reading! If you need some talking points for a local official before making a decision November 6, try 10 Questions to Ask Someone Running for Local Office from Strong Towns for some good preservation-minded questions and things to listen for in answers.

It is also that time of the year for flu season. While not exactly preservation related, some of you may be interested in a recap of the different ways outbreaks react in large and small cities at City Lab.

Are you working on a project or for an organization involving history and need some ideas on how to make your statements, fundraising, videos, impact reports, or newsletter reflect your values in a way easy for those outside your target audience to understand? You may want to visit History Relevance and take a look at their Toolkit page to see examples in action.

I greatly enjoyed the excerpt from Jeff Speck’s Walkable City Rules: 101 Steps to Making Better Places reprinted in A Step-by-Step Guide for Fixing Badly Planned American Cities, which will release October 15. I look forward to picking up the book and adding it to our design shelf at PHW. (Remember, if you would also like to order the book through Amazon, sign in through our AmazonSmile link and PHW receives a small percentage of the purchase price. The donations add up, so thank you to anyone who has supported us this way!)

We are also delighted to note the Bough & Dough Shop brochure will soon have a second printing with an updated artisan list. Download the second edition now, and keep an eye out for physical brochures around town!

Friday Roundup: Articles and Websites Around the Internet

Friday RoundupWhile we’ve been working away at Holiday House Tour behind the scenes, we did bookmark some interesting articles that we wanted to share. Settle in with a warm drink and cozy blanket for some curated reading selections:

Moving on from Sunk Costs looks at how you deal with bad decisions in the past that were made with the best of intentions and the brightest-eyed optimism of the time (street widening and big box malls in this case) but have instead contributed to more problems today and for the future. One telling paragraph that rings true for preservationists is:

“If our goal is to grow our tax base, there are ways to do that at lower cost and with less risk. Small amounts of property value appreciation over an entire neighborhood will grow the tax base more than a massive improvement in a single site. And it will do so in a way that helps more people—our neighbors and partners in the community—more directly. What does it take to have small, steady gains in property value throughout a neighborhood? Here’s a hint: It looks more like basic maintenance than something that would involve a ribbon cutting.”

We missed this article earlier in the summer: An Appalachian Elegy for Patsy Cline’s Hometown. While we have not gotten to read the book this article promotes, it is on the future shopping list for the PHW library. Reviews of the books seem mixed, so I am looking forward to seeing how this account lines up with the oral history I have been told. (If you’re interested in picking a copy up through Amazon, don’t forget you can support PHW through our AmazonSmile sign in link.)

One thing we have been watching this summer is the discussion around cell towers and service providers. While not exactly a preservation issue, we have watched a number of applications come before the Board of Architectural Review for wall and roof-mounted units in the historic district. City Lab put out a recent article Why 5G Internet Is a Policy Minefield for Cities. It remains to be seen exactly how this might impact the historic district, as to date most of the cell tower installations on historic buildings are located on the George Washington Hotel roof and Taylor Hotel fly-tower.

In less controversial topics, the name origins of colors is always fascinating, and one of the definitive naming schemes of the early 1800s is Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours. If color nomenclature is equally fascinating to you, there is now an interactive website by Nicholas Rougeux that uses the swatches from the Internet Archive scan of the book and photos of the actual animals, plants, and minerals used in the 110 base colors to bring the work to life.

Also in the realm of public domain books, you may want to visit Project Gutenberg for The Decoration of Houses. English majors may recognize the co-author Edith Wharton. Wharton’s fiction is no picnic to read (as anyone who had The House of Mirth on the assigned reading list is well aware), but throughout her work her eye for decoration, materials, and furnishings shines through. It was little surprise to see her nonfiction work reflects her interests in the decorative arts and architecture. If you have a road trip in your future, you may wish to pencil in The Mount, the home of Edith Wharton, as one of your must-see historic homes. The house is open daily through October 31, 2018 and on Saturdays and Sundays, November – February.

History and Preservation Activities for October

Mark your calendars for mid-October! First, City of Winchester Planning Director Tim Youmans will host a repeat performance of his in-depth history of Winchester. The event is sponsored by Friends of the Handley Library.
Date: October 13
Time: 11 a.m.
Place: Handley Regional Library auditorium
Cost: Free and open to the public.

Second, registration is open now for the 2018 Virginia Preservation Conference! Join Preservation Virginia and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources October 18-19 in Danville, Virginia for a gathering of preservationists, local citizens, government leaders and more to explore the modern preservation movement and the importance of protecting our diverse historic resources.

Donovan Rypkema, principal of PlaceEconomics, a Washington, D.C.- based real estate and economic development consulting firm, will be the keynote speaker.

Through educational sessions and tours of Danville’s historic districts, local citizens and community organizations will be equipped with valuable preservation resources and knowledge that they can use to protect the historic places in their own communities.

Dates: October 18-19
Place: Danville, Virginia
Times, Costs, and Registration Information: preservationvirginia.org

Bough & Dough Shop Lineup for 2018

Although we are a month earlier than anticipated, PHW is pleased to announce the vendor lineup for 2018 Bough & Dough Shop. As we had previously mentioned, we seriously took into consideration the feedback we had heard on the Shop asking for more vendors in a variety of media and for a longer time frame. This year, we are happy to announce twenty unique businesses and artists from the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding areas. The lineup includes familiar faces but also many new artists and products. Download a copy of the brochure for the Shop here – we anticipate receiving our printed flyers by next Friday if you would like to pick a few up.


We are still searching for an artist who could make wreaths, swags, etc. from the live greenery we will receive after Thanksgiving and through the end of the event on December 9. All other artists, please feel free to submit your applications, and we will keep you for our will-call list after November 16 if we have a last minute opening.

In the meantime, get excited for the following artists and businesses who will have products at the Bough and Dough Shop at the Hexagon House between November 16-December 9:

Friday Roundup: Celebración Winchester, Meditations on BAR

Out and about this weekend? Stop by the downtown to catch up with PHW at Celebración of Winchester on Sunday, September 23, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. A PHW board member or two should be around with an assortment of goodies, including a hot off the press early run brochure for the Bough & Dough Shop. We expect to have the Featured Artists portion of the PHW website updated later today or early next week so you can start exploring some of the amazing vendors and items we will have at the Hexagon House in November and early December.

221-223 South Loudoun StreetYesterday’s Board of Architectural Review meeting was a heartening experience after a tough few months of fighting for historic preservation and compromise as the accepted and useful strategy for dealing with problem buildings. Earlier this year, a new developer came to BAR with a plan for the Guitar Studio building on South Loudoun Street. It is a building of the recent past that attained contributing status in the latest architectural survey. Compared to the similarly-aged commercial buildings of the 200 block of East Piccadilly, this building truly is vernacular and of no discernible architectural style. It was likely built in the late 1940s, replacing an earlier frame building of about the same footprint. At some point between construction and the 1976 survey, some “colonial touches” were added that muddled the exterior appearance and “read” of the building.

During the initial BAR meeting in May, a number of the proposed changes were not in keeping with the Winchester BAR Design Guidelines. The majority of the application was tabled while PHW and the owners did some investigation of the building history and reading up on the BAR design guidelines. The applicants returned last night for a conceptual review, having read up, learned more about their building and researched more proposed products. The applicants were very open and excited to bounce ideas off the BAR members and solicited suggestions for further improvement before the application comes up for a full vote.

In the end, the applicant will likely have a new storefront more in line with a 1940s commercial building rather than trying to hang on to some oddball features to make a commercial building look residential. The longtime business resident is not being displaced. Opportunities for increased and improved residential density as well as proactively mitigating concerns is being addressed now rather than later. A situation that could have turned sour and confrontational was instead a pleasant experience of opening new possibilities, compromise and excitement for everyone involved. We are looking forward to seeing a “final product” application for this building.

We hope other applicants approach the BAR process with this same open mindset and willingness to compromise and explore various options. Again, we cannot stress enough how helpful a conceptual review discussion is both for the applicant and the Board of Architectural Review, and we encourage anyone considering a large and involved project to take advantage of this service before becoming married to an idea that may not work well with the Historic District.

Learn more on the city’s website about Winchester’s Historic Districts and Board of Architectural Review.

Friday Roundup: PHW Office News and Hurricane Preparedness

Friday Roundup Thanks for bearing with us on a tough week in the preservation world. As you have likely heard, all of the BAR appeals on Tuesday were overturned, which opens the door for demolition of the Kent and Piccadilly corner. No Certificate of Appropriateness will be issued for the next thirty days. The developer had also previously stated at the City Council work session no buildings would be demolished until plans were finalized. There is also a further appeal process open to PHW should we choose to exercise it. Above all else, we hope to have productive meetings with city staff both for this project and any others in the future that involve our irreplaceable architectural resources. Public input, consultation, and collaboration with stakeholders and residents should always be a priority, especially in regards to large scale projects the Historic District.

We would like to thank councilors Willingham, Willey, McInturff, and McKannan for their position to retain the James Barr house at 206 N. Kent St., as well as McKannan for his support in seeing the historic value in the old Central Garage at 202 E. Piccadilly.

With the unpleasant business portion of our weekly recap complete, I would like to thank all the artisans who have filled in applications or expressed interest to the personal invitations to the Bough and Dough Shop. We are near our space limits for interior artisan setup as of this week. We are still open for a live greenery artist for after Thanksgiving to the end of the event, but all other slots appear filled or are in talks to be filled now. The applications will remain up on the website just a bit longer, and printed copies will remain available at the PHW office. New applicants will be retained on our call back list in case of last minute changes or spaces becoming available. Again, thank you all so much, and I hope we will have some fantastic new and unique items for our shoppers this year!

As you can imagine, we ran behind on getting our Holiday House Tour program booklet advertising material together, but the hard copy letters to past sponsors and those who have expressed interest are going out this week. If you would like to advertise your business, please get in touch and we will provide you the information. We are also very willing to help you design your ad or make sure it will work with our printer, so please feel free to contact us at phwinc.org@gmail.com for further information. The deadline for securing an advertising spot is October 31.

With the weather this weekend and into next week threatening us with even more rain, we would like to direct anyone with flooding or water penetration issues to our blog post highlighting a list of resources compiled by Preservation Maryland in our May 18 blog post. You may also want to review these checklists and documents for hurricane preparedness:
Hurricane Preparedness for Maryland’s Historic Properties
Hurricane Preparedness and Recovery for Owners of Historic Properties
Hurricane Preparedness For Old Houses
Hurricane Preparedness: Are You Ready?
Avoiding Hurricane Damage: A Checklist for Homeowners
We hope the worst of the storm passes us by, but we want to be prepared for the worst. Stay safe and dry, everyone!

Friday Roundup, Website Recovery Edition

Friday RoundupThanks for your patience as we worked through the website issues last week. I promise it was as inconvenient for us as you!

First, we would like to announce we have about ten artisans confirmed for Bough and Dough Shop. However, we believe we can still fit in a few more. On our current wishlist is:

  • Textile artist who does felted or woven pieces/ornaments
  • Greenery artist to make wreaths, centerpieces, swags, etc., using your own or the cut greenery at the Shop (after Thanksgiving)
  • Surprise us! We’re always open to new ideas for handmade, quality artisan goods.

Now, to the meat of this Friday post, and a sentiment we heard from the last speaker at the public hearing concerning the Piccadilly and Kent Street development plans: preservation of historic neighborhoods and community revitalization go hand in hand. The National Trust publication Rebuilding Community: A Best Practices Toolkit for Historic Preservation and Redevelopment states:

When disinvestment, poor maintenance and abandonment leave a neighborhood pock marked with vacant or dilapidated buildings, public officials and citizens often seek a quick solution to the community’s woes by razing the deteriorated structures. Demolition may effect a dramatic change in the neighborhood’s appearance, but it’s rarely a change for the better. Years of experience, much of it forged in the crucible of misguided programs such as urban renewal, have clearly demonstrated the folly of destroying a place in order to save it.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation believes there is a better way. Having encouraged and assisted neighborhood revitalization efforts in cities and towns all over America, we are convinced that the best way to restore vitality and livability to a community is to build on its strengths, to save and enhance the character and ambience that make each neighborhood unique, to preserve and celebrate the tangible evidence of the community’s history instead of smashing it to rubble and carting it off to the landfill.

Similarly, Tom Mayes in Why Do Old Places Matter? Community points out the problems of wiping away historic places and assuming a thriving community will rise from it:

Yet something critically important is often overlooked, and that is the idea that the development of a real community takes time. Community develops through the interaction between people and place over time. We cannot build a community—we can only foster the conditions in which communities can grow and thrive. Community occurs in the organic interaction between people and place. And over time, these communities typically develop with a diversity of ages, incomes, and ethnicities.

Building a new structure won’t make it futureproof for decline, and when the time comes when it inevitably needs maintenance, the historic associations, memories, and stories tied to places like 202 E. Piccadilly Street that make it an interesting and valuable place are gone. Like the Winchester Towers, a building “without roots” like this is likely to be demolished, again, perpetuating the cycle. Donovan Rypkema is the premiere authority on green building and the economics of historic preservation, and while both the transcription and video are long, check out Donovan Rypkema Discusses The Economics Of Historic Preservation for some further insight on how historic preservation is a key component to successful revitalization of cities and neighborhoods.

There is an assumption historic preservation and affordable housing are mutually exclusive, but that is not the case at all. Many of the HUD programs to support affordable housing can be partnered with preservation tools like the historic tax credit. We encourage anyone interested in this to read through the short booklet Affordable Housing and Historic Preservation, particularly the implementation principles on page 6 and explained in more depth through the booklet. We would particularly direct your attention to point IV, further detailed on page 10. All preservation practices direct the impact of demolition within a historic district to examine not just a single building, but its impact on the rest of its neighbors: “If the affected historic property is a historic district, the agency official should assess effects on the historic district as a whole.”

While we wait for City Council’s decision, I will leave you with a transcript, additional information, and video of Using the Historic Tax Credit for Affordable Housing.

Bough & Dough Shop Call for Supplies

We are so excited about the new artists joining our line up for the Bough & Dough Shop this year! During our open house meet and greet on Saturday, we heard that in addition to our normal gently used paper and plastic bags, PHW is also in need of donations of bubble wrap for packaging some art – our usual craft paper wrapping is not going to cut it. If you have some bits and pieces from shipping boxes or leftover ends of bubble wrap rolls, PHW is now gratefully accepting your donations at our office, 530 Amherst Street in Winchester. If we are not in when you stop by, feel free to tuck your donated bags and bubble wrap between the doors of the back porch. Thank you!

(We still have room for more artists – we are especially hoping for an interesting fiber/textile artist and are open to other media. You can download a PDF of the info and application here, or apply online with a Google account.)

Friday Roundup: Meetings and Articles

Friday Roundup Happy Friday! PHW will be having a full day tomorrow at the Hexagon House, with a private brunch event in the morning and an impromptu open house for people interested in learning more about the Bough and Dough Shop from 1:30 to 3:30. Feel free to stop by, see the space, and give us some feedback on setup. We are also still looking for new vendors and volunteers to help us at the Shop during its extended run. If you can’t make it on Saturday, please drop us a line at 540-667-3577 or at phwinc.org@gmail.com.

We also would like to remind our readers the demolition appeals for 202 E. Piccadilly and 206 and 204 N. Kent, along with the remaining East Piccadilly buildings, will be presented as a public hearing at City Council on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 6 PM, in Rouss City Hall, 15 North Cameron Street.

With the spirit of Tuesday’s meeting in mind, we have a few articles and documents to share:

You may have heard or read about the architectural survey of the historic district referring to buildings being contributing under certain criteria, or retaining feeling, association, or integrity. These are not random terms thought up just for Winchester, but the baseline application of building evaluation set out by the National Park Service. You may find it useful to read through the bulletin How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation to get a better understanding of the terminology and usage.

We have also heard some potential “preservation compromises” that would be a reuse of either building parts or pieces of the facades. In a case of perfect timing, we were alerted to a recent article Saving A Facade Is Not Historic Preservation. The article is in depth and covers many angles and levels of various approaches, some of which may be more successful in some contexts than others. A key quote is: “Local preservationist and architect Amy Lambert feels that facadism fetishizes appearances and materials over social and environmental context i.e. retaining the thing, or the appearance of the thing, without retaining the actual experience of it.”

It also always bears repeating that historic preservation supports affordable housing and startup business. This topic is discussed more in depth by Stephanie Meeks, President and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the article Density Without Demolition. As stated in the article, “Creating affordable housing and retaining urban character are not at all competing goals. In fact, contrary to the conventional wisdom, they can most successfully be achieved in tandem.”

Just for fun, we would like to share several articles on rusticated concrete blocks, the material used in the Central Garage (now Chopped Corner Tacos). The building material is still underappreciated and many known examples of its use in commercial settings have vanished in Winchester for the scourge of preservationists, the parking lot. It has fared a bit better in residential construction, both inside and outside of the Historic District. Scholarly attention was first paid to it in the 1980s, and it continues to garner more historic research and championing as a legitimate historic building material.
Rock-faced Concrete Blocks
More Than Square: A Brief History of Architectural Concrete Blocks
Molded Concrete Block Construction in Delmar
Ornamental Concrete Block Houses