Friday Roundup: Reading Old Handwriting, Closet Archeology, and More!

Friday RoundupHappy Friday! This week, we gathered some interesting links from around the internet to share with you.

One thing we get asked about from time to time is reading the handwriting in early deeds and insurance policies. A good starting point if you’ll be reading or transcribing a lot of older writing is “How to Decipher Unfamiliar Handwriting” (geared to British and Australian sources, but the tips are universally applicable). Keithbobbitt.com has shared a chart and common abbreviation list of Colonial American handwriting by Kip Sperry that may help you decipher some tough letters and words in 17th century documents. If you feel up to testing your skills, you can try a matching game of individual letters based on Kip Sperry’s work at Reed.edu.

If you’re in need of help with 18th century writing, we found an in-depth guide with tips and sample writing and transcription (among other activities!) at DoHistory.org. Reading and transcribing will be easier in 19th and 20th century documents as writing was taught to standardized forms that remain similar to the cursive you may have learned in school yourself. Like most things, reading older handwriting is a skill that can be learned and improved, and some handwriting is easier to read than others.

If you are looking for something, perhaps at a graduate level, to study in conjunction with a public history or historic preservation degree, the National Trust recently posted Show Me the Studies! Environmental Design Research and Historic Preservation. While most preservationists have a gut feeling historic places help anchor us in time to our past, there have been very few studies on the subject as to the causes of those feelings – and studies are often key to having data that is “known” to be true to be validated and used in other important ways.

If you’d like your study to be a little closer to home, one class of fourth grade students has started a closet archeology project in their school. The project came about through a gap in the floor left by the removal of some sliding doors. Students would find interesting items in the gap – and the deeper they went in the hole, the more interesting the finds became. See some of the items found under the floorboards at the Closet Archeology Instagram. Some of those puzzle pieces look awfully familiar. . .

In a different sort of closet archeology, the blog 1970s Activist Publishing in West Virginia: Researching Appalachian Movement Press detailed the author’s journey to uncover the story of a small press that operated between 1969-1979 in Huntington, West Virginia. It is a good case study of how to research something of the recent past that has largely been forgotten. Perhaps my favorite passage, and one that I am sure all researchers wish more organizations would take to heart is:

“Suffice it to say that, if you’re publishing things on paper right now: Archive Your Work! You never know when someone decades later is going to care about what you were doing, and have a hell of a time trying to find out about it. Don’t leave it in a moldy basement!”

Last, if you are a National Trust Forum member, be sure to check out the latest issue of the Forum Journal, which covers a number of topics on preserving and interpreting difficult history, a topic that is perhaps more relevant than ever before.

Coming This Weekend: Glen Burnie Day and Second Battle of Kernstown Events

We have two free events to share with you. First, July 22 is Glen Burnie Day at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. Between 10 AM-5 PM, the MSV will open its doors for family friendly activities and a classic and modified car show. Learn more at the MSV website.

Also this weekend, the Kernstown Battlefield Association will commemorate the 153rd anniversary of the Second Battle of Kernstown with a series of events on July 22nd, 23rd and 24th, 2017. All events are free and open to the public.

On Saturday, July 22nd, author and historian Scott C. Patchan will give a special battlefield tour at 10 AM. Scott is the author of Shenandoah Summer; The 1864 Valley Campaign, among other books. Scott will be signing his books before and after his tour. Please meet at the Visitors’ Center.

Saturday afternoon, Shenandoah University Professor Dennis Kellison will be available in the Visitors’ Center to discuss his research about his ancestors that served in the Civil War and how he found them.

On Sunday, July 23rd, at 11 AM, volunteer Larry Turner will present a program on the manufacture and use of artillery fuses in the Civil War. Larry’s presentation will take place in the new conference room.

At 1 PM on Sunday, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Park Ranger Rick Ashbacker will give a presentation on the 1864 campaign called 1864 in a Box. The program is designed to give an overall understanding of the 1864 campaign and where events took place.

The Battlefield will be open on Monday, July 24th, the actual date of the battle, from 10 AM to 4 PM.

For more information, visit www.kernstownbattle.org.

Friday Roundup: Upcoming Events and a Free Webinar

Friday RoundupHappy Friday! There are two events coming in June. First, on Saturday, June 3 at 10:30 a.m., the Clowser Foundation will have a memorial service at the Clowser cemetery (152 Tomahawk Trail, Winchester, VA 22602) for the massacre in which members of the Clowser family and other settlers were killed or taken prisoner by Delaware Indians in 1764, followed by a lease signing celebration. Please join them for this free event and help them start off their efforts to save the Clowser House.

Second, on Sunday, June 11 at 2 p.m., PHW will hold its 53rd Annual Meeting and Preservation Awards at the Bell House, 106 North Cameron Street, Winchester, VA 22601. Please join us at this free for members event to celebrate local preservation projects and people and start PHW’s year on the right foot. If you were unable to attend the Holiday House Tour, this will also give you another opportunity to see the Bell House and learn about the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields and their plans for the building.

The Preservation Leadership Forum and NeighborWorks America hosted the webinar “Preserving and Supporting Businesses in Historic Neighborhoods” on April 27. The webinar examined how small businesses contribute to the vitality of older neighborhoods through offering essential services and serving as community anchors. This builds upon previous studies that have identified historic buildings as incubators for small businesses. Check out the webinar and the addition related materials here.

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.

Friday Roundup: Preservation Resources

ResourcesHappy Friday! As the weather gets warmer you might have some outdoor preservation projects on your to do list. You may want to consult a few online sources for information before diving in to your next project. Here’s a handy reminder of some of the sources of information you can access for free online!

From the National Park Service:
Preservation Briefs (common preservation issues and how to resolve them, often used as a supplement for tax credit projects)
Preservation Tech Notes (case studies of preservation techniques)
Preservation by Topic (alphabetical list by preservation topic, useful if you have an issue but you are not sure where to look for an answer)

From the Virginia Department of Historic Resources:
Historic Trades Directory
Publications (a mix of both hard copy only and PDF publications on various preservation and archeology topics, including New Dominion Style Guide for help identifying architecture styles of the recent past, and How to Research Your Historic Virginia Property)
Technical Reports (a Virginia-level companion to the NPS Preservation Briefs and Tech Notes)

The Historic Preservation Education Foundation has provided digital versions of some hard to find print publications generated from conference proceedings, including:
Roofing
Windows
Interiors
Preserving the Recent Past

If you are looking for some period materials in catalogs in your research into house parts and appliances, check out:
Building Technology Heritage Library
Winterthur Museum Library

If you are looking for in-person training opportunities, check out:
Traditional Trades Youth Initiative pilot program, looking to provide youth (age range 18-30) with exposure and experience in the fields of Historic Preservation, Cultural Resources and Facility Maintenance
Historic Real Estate Finance Training Program May 8-12 in Fairmont, WV, an intense, interactive workshop in the real estate development process including underwriting, appraisals, cash flow, depreciation, passive income/loss, syndication, tax credits and more

And if you are in need of some actual architectural salvage pieces for a project, the PHW office has a selection of window sashes with historic glass (two, six, and nine light sashes) ready to go back out into the world. Drop us a line at 540-667-3577 or phwinc.org@gmail.com for more information.

Building Community Through Historic Preservation

We took a little break this week from scanning photos, so instead we found a TEDxCLE talk by Rhonda Sincavage from the National Trust for Historic Preservation called “Building Community Through Historic Preservation” to share with you.

To many of you, the points she makes in the first six minutes will be entirely familiar. If you find yourself nodding off, skip ahead to about the 6:40 minute mark to hear some outside confirmation of the intuitive reasons people get involved with historic preservation, and the theory of how a strong emotional attachment to a place positively impacts the community as a whole.

For those interested in exploring the Soul of a Community Study mentioned briefly in this talk in more detail, you can learn more about it on the Knight Foundation website or watch a quick introduction video.

Friday Roundup: PHW Newsletter, File Indexes, Clowser House Update, and Photos

Friday Roundup The first PHW Newsletter of 2017 is available online now, with a recap of the 2016 Holiday House Tour and a fairly lengthy update on PHW’s ongoing archiving process. If you think you should be on the PHW mailing list of current members and you don’t receive your hard copy, please let us know at 540-667-3577 or phwinc.org@gmail.com. (If you spot a typo or need to update or confirm your current mailing address, please let us know that too!)

As part of the archiving process mentioned in the newsletter, we have made a working index of the dead PHW office files available online. At present time the list consists only of the file name and box number, but more information on the contents may be added in the future. This index only covers the files moved to storage, so most of the Revolving Fund, newer Holiday House Tours, and historic building files are not indexed (yet!).

We are also very excited to share the indexing of the Winchester Star’s “Out of the Past” articles completed to date. This indexing project was started by summer intern Marlena Spencer as we were beginning to sort and file the newspaper clipping boxes in 2013. Hopefully this will help you locate some stories you may have read in the Out of the Past section. Expect more additions to this index as time goes on.

The Clowser House has cleared its next hurdle in the ongoing preservation efforts. On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to move the Clowser House proposal to a public hearing to be held on April 26th. If all goes well, the April 26th hearing will be the final step needed before the Clowser House Committee can lease the property for 99 years and start the preservation process.

Last but not least, we added 22 photos to Flickr this week, all of one location: 219 South Loudoun Street. The brick house was likely built by Abraham Lauck around 1823 for his daughter Sarah at the time of her marriage to Charles Finn. In addition to a selection of shots from the 1997 Holiday House Tour, we were also able to identify the rear garden springtime photos, which had long been in the unknown photo file at PHW. We also did a bit of housekeeping at Flickr and created a dedicated album for those Holiday House Tour 1997 images we have been sharing recently. Enjoy both the festive photos and a taste of spring at the top of the photostream.

219 South Loudoun Street

Friday Photos and Preservation News

Happy Friday! We have some preservation news to pass along before we get to the photos.

The Clowser House Committee has invited anyone interested to stop by the Purple Room at the Frederick County Administrative building in Winchester from 6 to 7 PM on Wednesday, March 8 to meet before the Board of Supervisors meeting. Enter from the North Kent Street side and go down the hall next to the elevator and enter the room to the right at the end. They will have the Clowser House matted prints for sale at $30, as well as information and photos for viewing. The committee is also interested in any old photos you may have relating to the Clowser House and Clowser family for their archives. Please extend this invitation to others, and then stick around for the Board of Supervisors meeting at 7 to show your support for the Clowser House!

For Friday Photos this week, we have added 40 photos to Flickr, including images from Tim Youmans’ tour of City Hall for Rouss Day 2017, two contact prints from the Kurtz Cultural Center exhibit and gift shop areas, and the check presentation of the 2016 Bough and Dough Shop proceeds to Winchester Little Theatre.

We hope you like seeing Christmas decorations year-round, as almost all the photos we have left to scan are from Holiday House Tours. This week we added more images from the 1997 tour of two houses on South Loudoun Street. One is 217 South Loudoun, the Rutherford House, which was built circa 1775 by one of Winchester’s early prominent citizens. Likewise, 522 South Loudoun, the Dr. Cornelius Baldwin House, was open for the 1997 tour. The frame house was built circa 1795. In addition to its famous owner, the house is also recognized for its family connection to Mary Julia Baldwin, Dr. Baldwin’s granddaughter, who founded Mary Baldwin College. Catch all the new photos at the top of the photostream, and keep an eye out for a new album just for the 1997 House Tour images soon!

522 S. Loudoun St.

Friday Roundup: Lecture, Book Signings, Grant Opportunity, Preservation Awards, and Photos!

Happy Friday! It has been a busy week for preservation news.

Jefferson in Paris1. The French and Indian War Foundation invites you to an afternoon of Colonial history on Sunday, March 19 between 2-5 PM in the Reception Room at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, 901 Amherst Street, Winchester, Virginia. This is a free event with wine and hors d’oevres. Book signings of “On The Town Celebrating James Wood & The Founding of Winchester in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia” by Wilbur S. Johnston and Braddock’s Road Historical Atlas by Norman Baker will take place all afternoon.

Dr. Carl Ekberg will present a lecture and slide presentation on “Thomas Jefferson in Paris” at 3 PM. Dr. Ekberg is a retired history professor from Illinois State University who now resides in Winchester. He has traced the footsteps of Jefferson in Paris for the last 25 years. In 2014, he received La Médaille d’Or award from the French Ambassador for his numerous outstanding publications on the French Colonial period.

For questions on this event, please call 703-307-6696.

2. The National Fund for Sacred Places is a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in collaboration with Partners for Sacred Places that provides training, planning grants, and capital grants from $50,000 to $250,000 to congregations of all faiths for rehabilitation work on their historic facilities.

Congregations are urged to submit their letter of intent by May 1 for the Fund for Sacred Places for projects such as:

  • Urgent repair needs that are integral to life safety.
  • Projects that improve the usability or ADA accessibility of the property.
  • Renovation projects for important community outreach.

Visit www.FundforSacredPlaces.org for more details, including eligibility requirements, guidelines, and online application.

3. The National Trust for Historic Preservation is also taking applications for their National Preservation Awards until 11:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 1. Nominate a deserving project, individual, or organization for a 2017 National Preservation Award – see the full list of categories, eligibility requirements, and online submission forms at the National Trust’s website.

4. Late breaking news from the National Trust – two grant deadlines have been extended until March 15! Learn more about the Johanna Favrot (matching grant for planning activities and education efforts focused on preservation primarily for public or nonprofit entities) and Cynthia Woods Mitchell (matching grant for Organizational Level Forum members or Main Street America members of the National Trust for preservation, restoration, and interpretation of historic interiors) funds. Grant funding ranges from $2,500–$10,000.

320 South Cameron Street 5. Friday Photos continues to add to our digital Holiday House Tour collections with 35 images this week, focusing on 320 South Cameron Street (the Parish-McIlwee House, decorated in a Victorian manner) and 312 South Cameron Street (former parsonage of the Methodist Episcopal Church, renovated into offices in 1984), and 501 South Loudoun Street (the Sitler House, an early log home built by Mathias Sitler between 1780-1797).

Catch the new images at the top of the photostream, or at the end of the Holiday House Tours album. Happy viewing!

Bonus Information: More updates on the historic tax credits in Virginia and for the federal program have come in from Preservation Virginia. Catch their updates on the two year sunset successfully added to to HB 2460 and SB 1034 and the introduction of the Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act to Congress in their archives.

Announcements and Friday Photos

Happy Friday! We have a few quick announcements to make before we get to the photos:

1. We had a flood of spam hit the website and email list at the end of January, and a small portion (less than 1%) of the email list was cleaned of suspicious signups. If you or a friend are not getting weekly emails from us when you know you have signed up, after you double check that the emails didn’t land in your spam of junk folders, please sign up again on any PHW website page with the email form in the footer or sidebar, or follow this link.

2. Don’t forget about Winchester’s 4th Annual Chocolate Escape, happening downtown this Saturday, February 11 between 2-5 PM. You can find more details and all the participating stores and restaurants at Old Town Winchester.

On the the fun part of the week! We have added 37 photos to Flickr, once again focusing on past Holiday House Tours. Get a glimpse inside 112-114 East Cecil Street, better known as the “chicken coop house” which was an adaptive reuse project turning a barn into apartments, plus 215 South Loudoun Street and the Red Lion Tavern Inn at 208 South Loudoun Street (then the offices of Winchester Radiologists). Find the photos at the end of the Holiday House Tours album, or the top of the photostream. Happy viewing!

Holiday House Tour