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!

Around the Internet: FSA Photos, State Budget Worries, and Historic Plaques

Around the InternetHappy Friday! If you survived the wind with your power intact, we have a few things for you to explore and read around the internet:

1. The Shorpy photo archive featured the Texaco station at 819 S. Braddock St. with some great vintage road signs, gas pumps, and cars, and the Handley High School lawn and the smokestack in the background. Many more images from the Farm Security Administration (FSA) are available. Try starting with this narrowed search link at the Library of Congress to explore Winchester circa 1940. I am fond of the image taken at Orndoff’s marble yard, at the intersection of Loudoun and Boscawen Streets.

2. The Valley Conservation Council has put together a list of some land conservation and historic preservation-adjacent items to watch and act against in the state budget. Part of the proposed cut of mitigation funds is aimed at reducing mercury in the Shenandoah River. There is also concern over the Land Preservation Tax Credit. As stated by VCC, “Landowners put their property under easement in 2017 with the understanding that the limit would go back to $50k​ – to change the rules on them now after they have permanently preserved their land is unfair.”​ If you are similarly worried about these and other proposed budget cuts, VCC has compiled the historic data and the contact information for you to reach out and state how important conservation funding is to our area.

3. Similarly, Preservation Virginia has highlighted some additional concerns of budget cuts facing the Department of Historic Resources.

4. We also forgot to congratulate Tom and Deanna Stouffer for 125 E. Clifford becoming one of now 154 houses in the Winchester Historic District to receive the oval plaque. If you were not able to visit them at Holiday House Tour time, you truly missed a special home. You can get a little taste of that in our Flickr album.

Friday Roundup: Photos, Webinars, and Internships

Friday Roundup Happy Friday! This week we have added 41 photos to our Flickr account. These images were in our Revolving Fund file cabinet, which is getting a good spring cleaning. These files were primarily for properties PHW participated in or surveyed as potential purchases. The highlights include a number of houses on South Kent Street, the old B&O train station on East Piccadilly Street, and a number of 8 East Cork Street photos and bits that were recorded when PHW’s office was located there. Catch all of them at the top of the photostream.

124 E. Germain St.

The National Trust is hosting the webinar “Telling Women’s Stories at Historic Sites” on Wednesday, March 14, 3:00–4:00 p.m. The Preservation Leadership Forum’s next webinar focuses on “Including Women in the Sequel: Re-Interpretation and Telling the Full History at Historic Sites.” Panelists from Belle Grove, the Oneida Community Mansion House, and the Pauli Murray House will discuss their work telling women’s stories—including identifying source materials, developing interpretive plans, and building narratives that tell a broader American story. Register for the webinar at the Forum website or see what webinar topics interest you in their archives.

Teachers and students, are you looking for a summer job opportunity in history, architecture, or landscape architecture? Heritage Documentation Programs, NPS seeks applications from qualified students for 2018 summer employment documenting historic sites and structures of architectural, landscape, and technological significance throughout the country. Duties may involve on-site field work and preparation of measured and interpretive drawings and written historical reports for the HABS/HAER/HALS Collections at the Prints and Photographs Division of The Library of Congress. Projects last 12 weeks, beginning in late-May or early-June. Applications are due March 16, 2018. Learn more and find the application instructions at Facebook and NPS.

Friday Round Up: Historic Buildings, Tax Credits, and Demolition

Preservation has been in the news lately. First, you may have seen the Winchester Star article on the latest Historic Tax Credit studies. You can watch the accompanying video interview on YouTube or below:

If you are up for a little light reading on historic tax credits and their impact in Virginia, you can read the full 94 page Preserving the Past, Building the Future or the four-page Executive Summary to hit the highlights. You may also want to read the similar economic analysis Virginia’s Historic Tax Credit Program prepared by Baker Tilly. Both studies back up the assertion of Historic Preservation Tax Credits paying for themselves over time and positively impacting not just buildings but entire communities.

You may also want to read the Winchester Star article on the approval of the demolition of a property on Sharp Street at the Board of Architectural Review last night. PHW President Bruce Downing was present to voice our concerns about the demolition of this property essentially by neglect. Sharp Street as a whole is a very architecturally and historically significant, if often overlooked, area of our Historic District. We hope the proposed changes and new construction, which are scheduled to return at a future meeting, will continue to honor and reflect the unique character of that block.

Friday Roundup: Newspapers, Photos, Grants, and More!

Friday Roundup First, an addendum to last week’s post on newspaper archives. We missed one provided through the Handley Library, Advantage Digital Archive. This archive provides OCR searchable text and full page images of some of Winchester’s more obscure historical newspapers, including:
Virginia Gazette (1787-1796)
Winchester Gazette (1798-1824)
Republican Constellation (1814-1814)
Daily Item (1896-1897)
Morning News Item (1906-1907)
Daily Independent (1923-1925).

The search functions are similar to the other newspaper archives covered last week, and browsing is available for those looking for a surprise or coverage on a certain day. We are happy to report a quick test search for “Burgess” turned up a new tidbit on the first owner of the Hexagon House, James W. Burgess, that we had not previously seen. It corroborated other accounts of his furniture business in 1870 (about the time construction started at the Hexagon House.) His furniture was used in the newly built home of John M. Miller near Middletown. The residence in question is likely the Cooley House, referenced in Maral Kalbian’s Frederick County, Virginia: History Through Architecture on page 93.

Virginia Woolen Mill SiteWhile reviewing some of the files being moved around for painting, we found some images that had not been scanned. Sixteen images have been added to Flickr, including eight that were attached to a display board for the Kurtz, possibly in a fundraising or open house event in the early 1990s. The remaining eight photos may include some duplicates of images already scanned from the slide collection on North Loudoun Street, the Virginia Woolen smokestack, and one image of the John Wall House at 11-17 S. Kent during demolition. You can catch the photos right at the top of the photostream.

As we are also working on the files during the office shuffle, we have made a few edits to our online directory of program and event files. While it feels like we started this index just yesterday with two boxes of Kurtz Cultural Center files, we anticipate adding an eighth box to the storage collection of programs and events from the last ten years. Although these files are of limited interest to researchers outside of PHW, this is a bit of a teaser for the next round of indexing we hope to tackle for our themed research files on topics or locations. No precise timeline is available (yet!) but the indexing will likely take place in the spring.

The National Trust has several grant deadlines approaching, including African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (Jan. 31), National Trust Preservation Funds (Feb. 1), Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Interiors (Mar. 1), and Johanna Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation (Mar. 1). You can see the full list and details on how to apply and what qualifies for each grant here.

Preservation Virginia is also taking applications for their Most Endangered Historic Places list of 2018. If you know a site worthy of recognition that is imperiled with damage, neglect, or development pressure, you can find the application and instructions here. Nominations are due by March 9.

Friday Roundup: Tax Credit Edition

Friday Roundup Welcome to 2018! As you may have heard, there had been an open demolition request for 137 South Loudoun, the building most heavily damaged by the fire in February 2016, submitted to the Board of Architectural Review. We wanted to publicly share the news from the applicant that at the same time the Board of Architectural Review was meeting and discussing how to proceed on the demolition request yesterday, Part 1 of the historic tax credit application was approved by the Department of Historic Resources. The applicant will be proceeding to Part 2 of the application, and as such, the demolition request has been withdrawn.

This is a prime example of how the historic tax credit can help save endangered buildings. The tax credits will help make this project more financially feasible than it otherwise would have been, and the community can retain at least a substantial portion – and the most important portion for experiencing the downtown as a pedestrian – of the historic Italianate-style building. While there is still a long process ahead, we hope to see 137 South Loudoun Street recover and thrive.

On that note, while we mentioned that the Federal-level historic tax credit was spared the chopping block, we did note there was a change to the implementation. As of now there is no hard-hitting look at how spacing the credit over five years will impact projects financially, although there is expected to be some lessening of value. The National Trust for Historic Preservation recapped the changes due to the preservation community’s advocacy as such:

“This strong showing of support resulted in an amendment to restore the HTC to 20 percent. The amendment—offered by Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and cosponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; and Tim Scott, R-S.C.—was accepted at a critical moment in the Senate Finance Committee’s markup of the tax bill during the week of November 13. To file the amendment, however, Sen. Cassidy needed to identify a way to offset the cost of the incentive. The solution was to take the HTC in phases over five years instead of in its entirety the year a rehabilitated building is completed. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that phasing the HTC in this way reduces the cost of the program by approximately $2 billion over 10 years.”

The Trust also notes what a remarkable and almost improbable feat it was to retain the historic tax credit, noting that “[o]f the more than 300 amendments offered, the Finance Committee ultimately approved only about a dozen.” We hope to see more of this good luck spread to other preservation projects in 2018!

Happy New Year!

We’re not quite there yet, but this will be our last post of 2017. Before you completely wrap up your holiday spirit, be sure to let us know your feedback on the Holiday House Tour in a quick 5-10 minute survey.

As you snuggle in for another holiday weekend, you may want to read up on the first photographs of snowflakes and read about the Feast of Fools celebration on New Year’s Day. If the cold weather has you down, you might want to read about the Victorian-inspired decorations in the Allan Gardens Conservatory.

Stay safe, stay warm, and have a happy New Year!

A Happy New Year

Friday Roundup: Holiday House Tour, Preorder Wreaths, and Preservation News

Friday Roundup Happy Friday! We apologize for the radio silence most of this week as we finished up the printing and mailing for Holiday House Tour. Tickets are available now at all the ticket sale locations, and online ticket sales are being mailed as they are received. You can use the forms below, or on our website if the forms do not load in your email.


Preview Party and Two-Day Tickets: December 2 & 3





Sunday Daylight Tickets: December 3




Don’t forget, if you want to place a preorder with Nate Windle for some special custom arrangements and wreaths at the Bough and Dough Shop, you need to get your order in by next Wednesday, November 22 to guarantee fulfillment. Pickup will be at the Bough and Dough Shop Sunday afternoon on December 3.

While we are still monitoring developments in the historic tax credit, we have a few other pieces of news to share:

Winchester City Council will vote on “R-2017-46, A Resolution to Urge the President of the United States and the United States Congress to Continue the Federal Historic Tax Credit Program and to Otherwise Provide with Respect Thereto” at the Nov. 28 regular City Council Meeting. We are proud to report the City’s recommendation is to maintain the Historic Tax Credit as it exists because it has been an important tool in the redevelopment of local historic sites. You can see the resolution here.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is launching the African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. The fund will be used to provide grants to African-American historic sites and train high school students through the Hands-On Preservation Experience (HOPE Crew). Visit their website to learn more or make a pledge to the action fund.

Open Culture posted the news that The Internet Archive has found a way to make some material published between 1923 to 1941 available for free online. While the first batch of materials utilizing this provision of copyright law may not be useful to local historians, it is a sign of things to watch for in the coming years.

Lastly, the PHW office will be closed on Thursday and Friday, November 23 and 24, for Thanksgiving. We anticipate the office being open as usual Monday-Wednesday, November 27-29. The office will likely be closed at least part of Thursday and Friday as we prepare for the Bough & Dough Shop setup.