Reminder: Piccadilly and Kent Street Demolition Public Hearing on July 19, 4 PM

Today we are following up on the East Piccadilly Street proposed development after we have had time to further research this corner. Preservation of Historic Winchester is opposed to the proposed demolition of the following properties, which will be considered at a public hearing at the Board of Architectural Review on July 19 at 4 PM:
202 East Piccadilly 2011 Survey
204 North Kent 2011 Survey
206 North Kent 2011 Survey

This meeting is open to the public and we strongly encourage anyone else with reservations about this demolition plan to attend and speak.

These three buildings are all listed as contributing structures to the Winchester Historic District. They are also some touchstones of the growing residential and industrial footprint of Winchester shortly before and after the Civil War and into the mid-twentieth century.

The corner building of concrete block has stood for over 100 years. It was erected 1908-1912 by Harley “H. B.” Sells, a mechanic who owned and operated his own machine and auto repair and lending business. He built the frame dwelling house at 204 North Kent as his residence, conveniently beside his workplace. From the newspaper about 1915 we learn more about Mr. Sells and the Central Garage:

One of the most popular garages in the city, and the only one that is steam heated, is the Central Garage and Machine Shop located at the corner of Kent and Piccadilly streets, opposite the B. & O. passenger station, of which Mr. H. B. Sell is the proprietor. There is ample storage room for a large number of cars. The repair department is by far the best equipped and most complete in Winchester. . . . . Mr. Sell is himself and expert mechanist and gives his personal attention to all work entrusted to his care. His facilities for repairing and making broken parts are of the best, much better than are usually found in a small city. He also owns a number of cars which may be hired at reasonable rates. In addition to his automobile business he conducts a general machine shop and most of the large plants in this vicinity, such as the Virginia Woolen Mills and the Knitting Mills are among his patrons. There is no job too intricate or too difficult but that he is prepared to undertake and carry to a successful conclusion. Mr. Sell is a native of this section where he is well and favorably known. He has for years been identified with its business life and is always ready to aid in its upbuilding.

At this time the car was still a novelty, but it was seen as an integral point in getting wealthy Washington DC tourists to travel the scenic and historic roads of our area. Innumerable articles on suggested automobile trips were published in the newspapers and by auto clubs. As we know, Winchester is a hub of transportation lines, and tourists were funneled here both by our excellent roads and these promotional materials extolling our garages, mechanics, scenic views, historic buildings, and downtown restaurants and lodging space.

Adjoining the corner shop and home of Harley Sell is the much older brick house, known as the residence of James W. Barr. A deed in 1918 refers to it as the “seven room brick dwelling . . . with outbuildings and improvements, occupied as a residence for many years by James Barr.” James Barr appears to have bought the empty land in 1850 and made this site his home until his death in 1899. From his obituary in Harrisonburg Evening News, September 6, 1899, we learn:

Mr. James W. Barr, one of Winchester’s foremost citizens, died at his residence in that city, on Monday, after a protracted illness, of heart trouble and dropsy. He was 63 years of age, and is survived by a widow and three sons. Ever since the Civil War, Mr. Barr has been closely identified with municipal affairs. He served in the City Council for 20 years and for a long time was a member of the School Board. For the past 15 years he was chief fire warden of the city, and never missed an alarm of fire. He was also prominently identified in church circles. He served throughout the Civil War in the Confederate army as a member of Company C, First Maryland Cavalry. Mr. Barr was treasurer of Turner Ashby Camp, Confederate Veterans, of that city.

His children were identified in another obituary in the Shepherdstown Register, September 7, 1899: “He is survived by his widow and four children – Wm. T. Barr, R. Frank Barr, Owen Barr and Mrs. Samuel Atwell.” Further cementing the Barr connection to this house is another death notice in the Richmond Dispatch, November 4, 1902, for a relative: “Mary Alice Wall died at 9:30 o’clock this morning, of consumption, at the residence of her cousin, Mrs. James W. Barr, of north Kent street.”

It is little wonder the Barr home is made of brick. The Barr family can boast of being one of the first brickmakers in the area, as one of his ancestors “conducted business on a large scale” and “furnished brick for the present court house” (old Frederick County Court House). Many of the Barr descendants carried on this trade. But that was not the only tie this family had to the prominent trades of this neighborhood. James W. Barr was a member of the mercantile group Kern, Barr, & Co., and as part of their business holdings, they too owned a woolen mill. The Morgan Woolen Mill was located in Frederick County, near the Thomas Wood house, which you may know better as Millbank, on Redbud Run. Even the connection as a fire warden makes immense sense, when you learn the Kern, Barr, and Co. Winchester store on the corner of Cameron and Piccadilly fell victim to one of the town’s fires in 1889.

A look through the census records of the early 1900s for the Harley Sells frame house and the James Barr brick house finds this area was occupied by lumbermen, freight yard workers, blacksmiths, and a grocery store owner. Their neighbors were butlers, laundresses, weavers and spinners at the mills, apple packers, and workers at the cold storage plants. It might seem a strange turn of events to turn a garage into a restaurant, but the Central Garage beat other projects like Bonnie Blue and the North Loudoun Street pizzeria to the trend about 1935, before “adaptive reuse” was even a term.

This line of three properties is an important “firebreak” or buffer for new construction that could take place outside or at the very eastern edge of the historic district. They have a deep connection to the activities, trades, and families that made enterprises like the railroad, the woolen mills, and early machinery and automobile industry successful. To lose them would be to further erode the developmental history of this area which has already seen a great deal of loss in our early automotive, woolen mill, and black history. Putting up a marker is a lifeless, pale substitute for retaining the actual sites where actual people lived and worked.

Winchester escaped the worst of urban revitalization thanks to many active citizens who had the vision to see historic preservation is a key component of maintaining a successful downtown that can also be economically viable. It is PHW’s firm belief the rehabilitation of 202 East Piccadilly and 204 and 206 North Kent in conjunction with new construction in this area will be a better solution more in keeping with the spirit and values of our historic downtown rather than clear-cutting another block on a gamble that could very well never pan out.

Central Garage, 202 E. Piccadilly
PHW is still searching for historic photographs (pre-1976 if possible) of 204 and 206 North Kent Street in particular. Please let us know of any leads you have at phwinc.org@gmail.com or at 540-667-3577.

We also hope while you are downtown for BAR on July 19, you will meet up for “round two” at the Godfrey Miller House Summer Lecture Series at 7 PM, where Sandra Bosley will take you through the history of the Conrad house, Conrad family, formation of PHW, the origin of the BAR, and a look at “where they are now” for some Conrad house items. The lecture is $10.

Friday Roundup: Fourth of July Edition

Friday RoundupHappy Friday! We had a great time kicking off PHW’s 54th year last Sunday, and we have more great things on the horizon. First, our holiday schedule for the Fourth of July:

Closed Tuesday, July 3, but stop by our table near 28 S. Loudoun St. (the Godfrey Miller House) during Rockin Independence Eve and pick up some self-guided walking tours and other PHW swag (donations kindly accepted). The event runs from 5-11 PM; we’re not sure how long our supplies will hold out, so you might want to stop by early!
The PHW office will be closed all day July 4 and July 5.

In keeping with the patriotic theme this time of year, we are happy to report the Clowser Foundation has secured their lease on the Clowser House in Shawneeland for the next 98 years. This was truly a labor of love for this amazing group, and we are beyond thrilled for them. Fabulous job, everyone!

Perhaps a bit ironically, but with summer comes the official call for Bough and Dough Shop artisans! We are trying to go “high tech” in our process this year. Apply with our online version of the Bough and Dough Shop jury form (requires a Google account)
or go with the reliable old school print and mail forms (PDF).

If you are thinking of applying, we are looking for unique handcrafted items. We would especially like to find a basket-maker, another potter or two, and perhaps jewelry, but we are very open to reviewing any submissions. We anticipate having about double the interior floor space we had at our longtime Shop location at the Winchester Little Theatre and we would love to showcase many more artisans this year. Don’t be shy, apply!

“Hazard Mitigation and Historic Preservation: How to Both Preserve and Protect” Webinar

Via Smart Growth Clearinghouse:
How do we protect historic properties that cannot be moved or modified, from the next disaster that strikes? This is a critical question faced by many owners of properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places and state registers or those located in local historic districts. Changing their original materials, locations or character-defining features can put these properties at risk of losing their historic designation. How, then, do we protect these resources?

Are mitigation and preservation both possible? Is there a compromise that allows for preserving and protecting? Is it better to alter a building’s character-defining features and protect it than to risk losing it entirely? What are the best options that cause the least harm or alteration?

In this webinar, we will explore answers to some of these questions with Deepa Srinivasan, AICP, CFM, President and mitigation specialists of Vision Planning and Consulting who share their process, challenges, and lessons learned from their work on disaster planning for historic and cultural resources in communities in two Mid-Atlantic states.

Participants of the webinar are eligible for 1.5 AICP CM credits for live view only, Tuesday, June 26 at 1:00pm. Visit the website to register for the event.

Care and Maintenance of Historic Metal Roofs Lecture on YouTube

Happy Friday! This week we have posted the latest Lunch and Learn Lecture to our YouTube channel. Eric Bennung, Vice President of Acrymax Technologies, presents this introduction and overview of his companies’ products in the care and maintenance of historic metal roofs, in addition to many other roof types. We had excellent questions and observations from our audience members during this event, which should also be audible. If you were not able to visit us on June 5, you can get caught up now at your convenience!

Be sure to visit preservationproducts.com and www.acrymax.com for more product details.

Friday Roundup: Events, Lectures and More!

Friday RoundupIt’s been a busy week at PHW as we wrapped up another fiscal year. But the administrative drudgery is not all we have been up to. Get ready to mark your calendars!

Tomorrow, June 2, 10 AM, the Clowser Foundation will hold their annual memorial service at the Clowser House, 152 Tomahawk Trail, in Shawneeland. Come out and see the progress that has been made in stabilizing this Frederick County landmark!

Also tomorrow at 1:30 PM, PHW will host the make up Preservation Month walking tour event. Look for the sign at the Harrison and Johnston law offices, 21 S. Loudoun St., to meet with a guide. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather!

Tuesday, June 5, starting at noon, PHW will host Eric Bennung, Vice President of Acrymax Technologies, Inc., to discuss the care and maintenance of historic metal roofs. We will be meeting at the Hexagon House, 530 Amherst St., in the first floor board room. We will be able to seat approximately 25-30 guests. This event is free and open to the public, but we strongly recommend carpooling due to the limited parking at the Hexagon House.

Wednesday, June 6, Turner Ashby Chapter 184 United Daughters of the Confederacy will host their 152nd Confederate Memorial Day service at Stonewall Cemetery in Mount Hebron Cemetery, 305 E. Boscawen St. The event starts at 7 PM and will be held rain or shine. The speaker is Mr. Steve Ritchie, “Defending Home and Hearth.”

Don’t forget to get your award nominations in to PHW before Monday, June 11, so we can finalize our lineup of award recipients at PHW’s Annual Meeting on Sunday, June 24, 3 PM at the Hexagon House.

And look toward July when the Godfrey Miller Historic Home and Fellowship Center presents their Summer Lecture Series, Our Community Response to World War I. The lectures will be held at 28 S. Loudoun St., 7 PM, on the following dates:
Tuesday, July 10 – Memorial Avenue 1924 WWI Plaques, Gene Schultz
Thursday, July 12 – Soldiers Stories behind the Plaques, Gene Schultz
Tuesday, July 17 – WWI and the Women of Winchester, Nancy Braswell
Thursday, July 19 – Historical Significance of Veteran Robert Conrad’s Home, Sandra Bosley
The cost is $10 per lecture or $35 for the entire series.

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: Keeping up with the Preservationists Edition

First, a note from Timothy Youmans on the temporary relocation this week of the Planning and Zoning & Inspections offices during the City Hall renovation:

Please note that the Planning Dept. and the Zoning & Inspections Dept. currently located in Suite 318 on the 3rd floor of Rouss City Hall will be relocating to the basement level offices of the Creamery Bldg. at 25 S. Kent St on April 26. While temporary, the relocation will extend into the Fall of this year as the 3rd floor of City Hall is completely renovated into the Development Services Concourse offering improved customer service for our development partners in the community.

To access the temporary offices, please enter the Creamery Bldg. from the rear parking lot entrance. The stairs and elevator connecting to the offices in the basement are immediately to the right after entering the rear of the building. The banks of parking closest to the north side and rear of the building and the double bay of parking just out from the rear bay of spaces are the only parking spaces situated on the Winchester City property and therefore available to customers of offices in the Creamery Bldg. All of the other spaces are reserved for other properties and should not be used by those coming to the City’s temporary offices in the basement.

This week for Friday Photos, we added 21 images of 145 Baker St., 125 W. Boscawen St., and 320 S. Cameron St. from our Revolving Fund cabinet collection. Catch them all at the top of the Flickr photostream.

145 Baker St.

You may have heard that Flickr will be merging with SmugMug. At the present time, it does not appear this will impact our Friday Photos and other photo collections – they’re all staying put with the same links you’ve been using. From the FAQ: “Over time, we’ll be migrating Flickr onto SmugMug’s technology infrastructure, and your Flickr photos will move as a part of this migration—but the photos themselves will remain on Flickr.”

With Apple Blossom drawing ever closer, you may want to read about The Rediscovery of 5 ‘Extinct’ Types of Heritage Apple. As a friendly reminder, the PHW office will likely be closing at 3 PM on Thursday, May 3 and remain closed through the Apple Blossom weekend festivities. Stay safe and have a happy Bloom!

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.

Friday Photos, Podcasts, and Upcoming Office Schedule

It was a short week for us with the snow interruption, but we were still able to add 33 photos to our Flickr account. Like last week, we are continuing to digitize all the photos from the Revolving Fund files, with this week’s batch including 20-22 and 24 South Kent, 211 and 219 South Kent (part of the Hodgson estate purchase), and 317 North Kent. You can catch the new additions at the top of the photostream, or at the end of the Revolving Fund album.
317 North Kent

If you are looking for preservation podcasts to add to your life, you might want to visit the newly-created www.preservecast.org site to look through Preservation Maryland’s back catalog of over 60 episodes, with a new episode posted on Mondays. The topics are often but not always Maryland-specific, but also include best practices and more general preservation topics. If you want a sample recommendation, try out the episode on the Enchanted Forest – if you’ve been in the area for a while you might have fond memories of this attraction during its first life from 1955-1989. (If you are super excited about this story and want to relive a bit of your childhood, Clark’s Elioak Farm will reopen for the season on March 30 – find more on their website www.clarklandfarm.com.)

Please note the PHW Office will be hosting a school field trip on Friday, March 30, and closed on April 2 and 3 for Easter vacation. We should still have a weekly email for you next week, but if we don’t, have a safe and happy holiday weekend!