The Preservation Month Happy Hour Is Tonight!

Celebrate Preservation Month with Preservation of Historic Winchester tonight!

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!

Happy Bloom!

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.

Friday Roundup: Preparing for Preservation Month

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!

Friday Roundup: Preservation Month Happy Hour

You’re invited to Preservation Month Happy Hour! Friday, May 10, 5 p.m. at 522 South Loudoun Street, Winchester.

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.

Nominations Open for the 2019 Preservation Awards

Do you know of a person or place that deserves recognition for their preservation contributions in Winchester or Frederick County, Virginia? PHW is now accepting nominations in several categories. Click for a PDF of the nomination form. You may nominate yourself or any project for consideration, and you may make more than one nomination. Work should be complete or near complete at the time of nomination. Winners will be announced and given a few moments to talk about their project at PHW’s Annual Meeting, likely to be held June 23 or 30, 2019.

There are a variety of categories to choose from, so see if you can give a boost of recognition to a project that may have gone under the radar this past year. Remember to get your forms in by May 31 to the PHW office, 530 Amherst St., Winchester, VA 22601!

Friday Roundup: Walking Tour, Photos, Links, Office Schedule

We’re back and hoping for good weather! Please join us for the make-up walking tour to celebrate National Preservation Month on Saturday, June 2. Meet in front of 21 South Loudoun Street at 1:30 PM, the first building to be marked with the oval plaque, to join a tour guide. We will go past the exteriors of homes in the Potato Hill neighborhood, with a small break for refreshments at 125 E. Clifford St., the latest home to receive the building plaque. The tour will loop back to the edges of the Old Town Mall on Boscawen Street. The overall time is estimated to take one hour to an hour and a half. The tour is approximately one mile in length. Be sure to dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. Some of the sidewalks are uneven or narrow, and there are a few hills and one set of steps on the final leg of the tour.

Friday Photos returns this week with 26 slides, most featuring the Simon Lauck House or 401-403 S. Kent, with a few other events and houses tossed in. Catch all of the photos at the top of the photostream. One photo location is unidentified; if you recognize this house, please let us know!

Unknown location

Looking for some extra reading this weekend? Here are some assorted links we’ve bookmarked with interesting historic tidbits to pique your curiosity.
How communities around Va. are restoring, reviving black cemeteries
Exquisite Rot: Spalted Wood and the Lost Art of Intarsia
Dead Brutalist Buildings
Untapped Potential: Eight Top-Line Strategies for Promoting Building Reuse
How a Hole Punch Shaped Public Perception of the Great Depression

PHW will be closed on Monday for Memorial Day. We’ll be back to usual on Tuesday. Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!



Friday Roundup: Awards, Walking Tours, and Rain Recovery

Friday RoundupWe are a little over halfway through National Preservation Month, but there’s still plenty of time to nominate some worthy projects for PHW’s annual preservation awards. See past winners and download a nomination form here. Nominations should be returned to PHW by June 11, no later than 5 PM, for consideration for a 2018 award.

Speaking of Preservation Month, we will regretfully postpone our planned walking tour of Potato Hill for Saturday, May 19. There are reports of afternoon thunderstorms in the forecast. Stay safe and as dry as you can, and we will let you know our make up day and time ASAP.

If you are facing flooding issues and water penetration, Nicholas Redding at Preservation Maryland compiled the following list of resources to help you dry out:
“After the Floodwaters Recede: A Checklist of Things to Do,” Maryland Historical Trust
“Treatment of Flood-Damaged Older and Historic Buildings,” National Trust for Historic Preservation
“Repairing Your Flooded Home,” American Red Cross
“Selecting a Contractor After a Natural Disaster Strikes,” Maryland Historical Trust
“Tips for Handling Insurance Claims for Historic Properties Following a Disaster,” Maryland Historical Trust
“Drying Wet Books and Records,” Northeast Document Conservation Center

When the weather breaks and you can enjoy the downtown again, PHW has updated the PDF of the “Explore the Old Town Mall” brochure to version 1.2. There are a few more text edits yet to come before a physical reprint, but if you spot any more pesky typos now, please let us know!



Friday Roundup: Indices, Trees, Photos and Fun!

Friday RoundupOne of the research resources we have at PHW that has been long neglected is a thick stack of photocopies of Mutual Assurance Society records. PHW volunteers obtained these copies in the 1970s as we were preparing for the 1976 Architectural Inventory. These insurance policies are very useful in seeing how early buildings grew and expanded, even giving details about the uses of certain wings, additions, or outbuildings. These are helpful for dating buildings that predate the Sanborn maps.

Thinking these records had already been sorted and it would be easy to find a policy for a quick fact check, it was quite a surprise to find that was not the case at all. After an afternoon of painstakingly deciphering names, it seemed more efficient to see if anyone had indexed these records already. Indeed, such a resource exists! The University of Mary Washington Department of Historic Preservation has a publicly searchable index of policies with a variety of search field options. In the case of these photocopies, the policy number is often the most legible identifying information. The document images are not available from this search, so this resource may not be of use to all researchers. However, you may want to experiment with the owner name search to see if a previous owner may have had a policy. For example, we know that George Norton had a Mutual Assurance Society policy on his home. By searching for his name, it brings up his Amherst St. home, as well as two other policies he took out at the same time. However, be careful! As with all old records, spelling can be haphazard and transcribers may not be able to make modernizations to help researchers. In Norton’s policies, we have creative street names like Piccadilla, Boscowan, and Loudon. If you find a record, don’t forget to consult the list of abbreviations to find out what was insured on the property and its construction materials.

Many of us have never seen, but heard the tales of the American chestnut tree. With the ongoing efforts to revive the species through blight-resistant hybridization, the question arose as to how large the trees really were. You can read and listen to a recent NPR interview of Roanoke College Biologist Rachel Collins, who warns us to temper our expectations of the mature chestnut hybrids reaching the massive proportions reported in historic documents due to some simple math confusion between diameter and circumference. If you are interested in learning more about the history and efforts to restore the American chestnut, visit the American Chestnut Foundation at www.acf.org.

Of course, it would not be Friday without some photos. This week’s upload has pushed us over 10,000 photos milestone in our Flickr collection! (“Only” 9,500 are publicly viewable, with the remaining 500 mostly historic photos or artwork we do not have rights to share.) About 50 older photos were identified, added to albums, and made public for searchers. We also added 36 photos of 518 and 401-403 South Kent Street, both Revolving Fund properties, again at the beginning of the rehabilitation. Catch them at the top of the Flickr photostream.

Clean Up Day, Blues House

Lastly, mark these dates on your calendars for upcoming PHW events! (Times may be subject to change.)

May 19, 2 PM: National Preservation Month walking tour, highlighting Winchester historic plaque and Jennings Revolving Fund properties in the Potato Hill neighborhood. Volunteers are still needed as tour guides! Contact PHW at phwinc.org@gmail.com or 540-667-3577 to add your name to the guide list.

June 24, 3 PM: PHW’s Annual Meeting and Preservation Awards, planned for the Hexagon House rear yard.



Friday Roundup: Interactive Map, Friday Photos, and a Call for Volunteers

Winchester City has launched a new, comprehensive address-based search tool. Using the new search, you can now find in one spot:

Tax Parcel Information
Refuse and Recycling Collection Day
Leaf Collection Area #
Fire Department First Due Station
Voting Ward and City Council Member
Voting Precinct
Elementary School District
If the property is in the following or not:
o Enterprise Zone
o Zoning District
o Historic District
o Corridor Enhancement District

This week, we added 36 photos to our Flickr account from the Revolving Fund files. Catch some images of 609 and 617 South Kent Street, and 211, 215, 501, 502, 510, 512, 511, and 513 South Loudoun Street at the top of the photostream. Note that 211 and 511 South Loudoun are not Revolving Fund properties so they are not in the Revolving Fund album.

211 South Loudoun Street

PHW is looking for volunteers to help us lead a preservation-themed walking tour in May to coincide with National Preservation Month (day and time pending). Volunteers should be relatively familiar with the downtown and adjacent residential areas in the Potato Hill neighborhood. Familiarity with architecture may be helpful but is not required. The text will be written for you and provided for review in advance, similar to Holiday House Tour docent scripts. We anticipate the guides will need to be able to walk and talk for an estimated distance of about 0.75 to 1.25 miles. If you are interested in being on the call list for this project, please let us know at phwinc.org@gmail.com or at 540-667-3577.



Where Are the Preservationists? All Around You.

For those who have been following the conditional use permit for 501 North Loudoun Street, you probably know the issue went to Winchester City Council for a final vote on Tuesday, and Ms. Darby has received her permit, the first step in opening a pizza parlor in a former gas station. The editorial in the Winchester Star on Thursday, however, had a baffling conclusion asking where the preservationists were.

The answer is all around you. Anyone who has ever had the urge to put a new business in an old building, felt the urge to save a building falling on hard times, experienced anguish seeing a wrecking ball looming, lamented when the loss or alteration of a tangible place will impact the way we think of and remember a location in the future, is a preservationist at heart. It is especially important to recognize this in May, National Preservation Month, when we come together to celebrate places that matter to us. These places do not need to be architectural jewels steeped in the history of two hundred years. Often our most personally meaningful places are these small buildings with neighborhood connections and modest architecture – but a lot of heart and memories.

Last year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation conducted a survey to see what kind of preservationists were out in the world, quietly working on saving historic and cultural objects and memories. While unscientific, a surprisingly large 19% of respondents were pegged as an “accidental preservationist,” or someone who fell into the this world just by the desire to reuse old spaces for new uses. Even more, at 36%, identified as a “people preservationist,” oriented on the smaller stories and community they are based in to make sure history is remembered and remains relevant. Not all – very few, in fact – polled as a “vocal preservationist” who is confident enough to share opinions publicly on a regular basis, as you would do at a City Council meeting.

The current PHW board was divided as the community had been over the issue, and after we did our due diligence we wrote a letter of support for the CUP to City Council and the Mayor ahead of the May 9 vote. While we were unable to attend and read our statement at the public hearing, we will reprint it here for those curious of our rationale:

“Preservation of Historic Winchester would like to express our support for the conditional use permit for the proposed adaptive reuse of the former gas station at 501 North Loudoun Street. This former Conoco station (circa 1930) has recently become a contributing structure in Winchester’s National Register Historic District by meeting the new, expanded period of significance. Unlike other recent past structures in Winchester that may be perceived as not harmonizing with its neighbors, this building has always had a sense of belonging. It is a charming Tudor Revival-style inspired gas station that, like Bonnie Blue in the former Esso station on Boscawen Street, could lend itself to a successful eatery utilized by neighbors and visitors alike.

“PHW is concerned that should the request from Karen Darby be deemed inappropriate, the building will continue to stand empty until, as a last resort, the entire building is lost. This does not have to happen. From our conversations with Karen Darby, we are assured she will do her utmost to bring a thriving business back to this corner of the Historic District. Her interest in utilizing historic tax credits bodes well for the final product becoming not just a business success story, but a historic preservation success story.”

Much of PHW’s work is like this: providing information, history, and the resources projects need to succeed; writing letters of support when a project is worthy; or even just taking some time to share history of Winchester and its buildings. We have been providing these services to Winchester for over fifty years to encourage the change in our historic district that impresses many people, residents and visitors alike. All of those positive changes were done by preservationists, working on one building at a time. Our own efforts in the Jennings Revolving Fund helped kickstart that movement, but it would not have succeeded without broad community support, not just in the moment when the publicity was high and exciting, but even now, thirty or more years later, through new owners taking over the stewardship of these buildings. Whenever you need a preservation organization to help, you can reach us at 540-667-3577 or phwinc.org@gmail.com. It is why we are here.