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.

“A House Without a Porch Is Boring” Lunch and Learn Lecture Coming May 11

Porch

Celebrate National Preservation Month this May with a look at a uniquely American staple of architecture, the porch. Sandra Bosley, Executive Director of Preservation of Historic Winchester, will take you through a journey discussing the origins of the porch, how a porch can give clues about the architectural style of a house, and some of the social and cultural movements surrounding porches which made them an integral part of American homes. Bring a lunch and learn with us!

Date: Thursday, May 11, 2017
Time: Noon-1 PM
Place: OakCrest Companies, 126 N. Kent St., Winchester, VA
RSVP: Appreciated but not required
Cost: Free and open to the public
Parking: Parking is limited and on-street parking is metered; we recommend utilizing the George Washington Autopark, across the street from OakCrest.
Questions? Contact PHW at phwinc.org@gmail.com or 540-667-3577.

National Preservation Month Newsletter Online Now

May is drawing to a close, but you can make National Preservation Month last a little longer with a special edition of PHW’s quarterly newsletter. The newsletter features a number of common architectural styles illustrated by Historic American Building Survey and historic house plan drawings (and one past Holiday House Tour drawing), accompanied by brief histories of the styles and some typical historic color suggestions. The online version is slightly different from the print version which you may have picked up at Kidzfest or current members will receive through the mail. If you’ve already seen it in print form, you may want to check out “version two” online to see the different illustrations.

Click here to read or download PHW’s National Preservation Month 2016 newsletter.

Color a House with PHW This Weekend at Kidzfest!

As we’ve been teasing, PHW will be one of the interactive exhibitors at this year’s Kidzfest, held from 11 AM-5 PM this Saturday, May 14! This event will be our big hurrah for National Preservation Month, which celebrates our nation’s architectural treasures. We’d like to share our love of old buildings with a fun introduction to building styles and colors.

Where: PHW’s booth will be near the city’s Hable parking lot and the splashpad, about 41 S. Loudoun Street. Click for a PDF map of all the booth locations.

What Activities Will Be Offered? Color a building from a selection of over 20 historic structures in more than a dozen architectural styles. Not sure what style is right for you? We have a “personality quiz” that might help you find your dream home. Then cut out, fold, and use a few pieces of tape to create a house that will stand up! You may take your house with you, or leave it at the PHW table to create a colorful street of historic houses for others to see.

We will also have free architectural walking tours of the Old Town Mall and a special edition of PHW’s newsletter which will cover the architectural styles and historic color suggestions on all of the example styles represented, spanning about 1750-1950.

Who Can Participate? Anyone! Coloring is fun for all ages. Some houses are more intricate than others, but PHW volunteers will be on hand if you need help.

We’ll see you there!

Color a House with PHW

Coming Next Week: Preservation Issues and Pleasures at a Working Mid-18th Century Plantation Site in Clarke County

Preservation Month

May 4: Handley Regional Library is celebrating National Preservation Month with an exciting presentation about a plantation in our district. The program, Preservation Issues and Pleasures at a Working Mid-18th Century Plantation Site in Clarke County, will take place on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. in the Handley Library Auditorium, 100 W. Piccadilly St. This presentation is being sponsored by Friends of Handley Regional Library and The Clermont Foundation and will be led by Robert Steig, CEO of The Clermont Foundation. There will be a reception following the presentation.

The Clermont Foundation funds and manages Clermont Farm, a 360-acre research and training site in history, historic preservation, and agriculture, owned by the Department of Historic Resources of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The farm and the foundation were a gift to the people of Virginia by Elizabeth Rust Williams in 2004.

Robert Steig as CEO of The Clermont Foundation, has been integral in the success of recent programs such as the rehabilitation of the farm’s slave quarters and a partnership to help kids raise pigs. Mr. Steig is also very active in the Berryville community, leading the fight to properly represent the first free African-American land owners on Josephine St.

For more information contact Barbara Dickinson at 540-662-9041 ext. 31 or reach her by email at friends@handleyregional.org.

National Preservation Month Activities

May is creeping ever closer, and that means National Preservation Month activities are in planning. Here is a selection of events we know about coming in May:

Preservation Month

May 4: Handley Regional Library is celebrating with an exciting presentation about a plantation in our district. The program, Preservation Issues and Pleasures at a Working Mid-18th Century Plantation Site in Clarke County, will take place on May 4, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. in the Handley Library Auditorium, 100 W. Piccadilly St. This presentation is being sponsored by Friends of Handley Regional Library and The Clermont Foundation and will be led by Robert Steig, CEO of The Clermont Foundation. There will be a reception following the presentation.

The Clermont Foundation funds and manages Clermont Farm, a 360-acre research and training site in history, historic preservation, and agriculture, owned by the Department of Historic Resources of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The farm and the foundation were a gift to the people of Virginia by Elizabeth Rust Williams in 2004.

Robert Steig as CEO of The Clermont Foundation, has been integral in the success of recent programs such as the rehabilitation of the farm’s slave quarters and a partnership to help kids raise pigs. Mr. Steig is also very active in the Berryville community, leading the fight to properly represent the first free African-American land owners on Josephine St.

For more information contact Barbara Dickinson at 540-662-9041 ext. 31 or reach her by email at friends@handleyregional.org.

May 14: Kidzfest returns to the downtown walking mall in Winchester in 2016. As you may remember, for the past two years PHW ran separate Preservation Month activities on the day of Kidzfest. This year, PHW has applied for a space at the event to provide a fun, free, and educational activity with an architectural slant. We will provide coloring activity sheets covering a variety of architectural styles, suitable for the entire family to explore buildings, history, and color together. Historic color information will be available if you want to try an accurate paint scheme, or you can let your imagination run wild and color a house however you would like. More details will be available closer to the event.

May 14: Fort Loudoun Day returns at the site of Washington’s Well at 419 N. Loudoun Street from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm. The French and Indian War Foundation commemorates this period in our country’s history each year at the site of the original Fort Loudoun. The event includes interpreters of the history of the era and gives visitors an opportunity to learn about the history of the frontier, the people who settled the Shenandoah Valley and the conditions in which they lived. Visit their website at FIWF.org to learn more.

Throughout the Month:
Experience Old Town Winchester with three Historical Springtime Scavenger Hunts. They start April 9, so you can get a jump on exploring Old Town!

Cemetery Tours are offered on a recurring basis by Northern Virginia Tours. The tours begin at Winchester National Cemetery and continue at Stonewall Cemetery. You have the option of touring one or both cemeteries. $8.00 per person for one tour, $15.00 for both tours. For reservations, contact 540-827-9948.

A Savory Taste of Winchester: Culinary Food and Wine Tours are currently ongoing, but Preservation Month is the perfect excuse to visit popular Old Town restaurants. In between the tastings at six locations, learn about Old Town Winchester’s history dating back to the 1600s. Call Northern Virginia Tours at 540-827-9948 for reservations. Reservations are required by 8 p.m. the day prior to the tour.

Last but not least, PHW is accepting nominations for our local preservation awards. If you know of a person or project worthy of recognition, why not send in a nomination form? It is free and it helps to get the word out to the community about projects that are making a difference in our streetscapes and knowledge of architecture and history.

An Architectural Treasure Hunt at Handley Library

How sharp is your eye for architectural detail? You can test yourself with three architectural treasure hunts produced in celebration of National Preservation Month 2015. The three treasure hunts feature architectural details from the Handley Library at 100 West Piccadilly Street in Winchester, Virginia. The details can be found on its three street-side faces (Piccadilly, Braddock, and Fairfax). Look up, down, and all around to spot the details!

Unlike past architectural treasure hunts, there are often multiple places where the same details can be found. This treasure hunt is just for fun – no prizes involved – but it may inspire you to examine details you’ve never seen before.

Can You Find It at Handley Library? (3 sheets, PDF, 3.5 MB)

Coming This Saturday: See! Save! Celebrate! and Other Downtown Events

The big day, May 16, is almost here! Start your day off with a trip to Fort Loudoun at 419 N. Loudoun St. for Fort Loudoun Day (10 a.m. – 1 p.m.). Tours of the grounds, led by historian Norman Baker, begin in half hour intervals. At 11:30 a.m. Mr. Raleigh Boaze will speak on General Braddock’s Failed Attempt to Capture Fort Duquesne, to be followed at noon by the flag raising. Stop by to see members of The Department of Geographers, Washington’s Rev. War army’s staff surveyors, and Larry Johnston “Liberty Man.” Learn more about the French and Indian War Foundation and Fort Loudoun at www.fiwf.org .

Kidzfest returns for the second year on the Winchester Old Town Mall with activities all day long. The family-focused event features musical performances along with interactive activities for children of all ages. Free activities and engaging exhibits will line the walking mall. Learn more about Kidzfest and see a schedule of events at oldtownwinchesterva.com.

Last but not least is PHW and Friends of the Handley Regional Library’s joint See! Save! Celebrate! National Preservation Month event. Two concurrent programs, one for children and one for adults, will begin at 2:00 p.m. Sandra Bosley, Executive Assistant for Preservation of Historic Winchester, will give an illustrated talk for adults on the businesses and buildings associated with the city’s railroad history. Also at 2:00 p.m., there will be a separate program for children in grades two through five led by Youth Services librarian Jennifer Sutter. The program will feature train stories, train songs, a model train, and a chance for youngsters to learn about Winchester’s railroad history and about railroad crossing safety.

It will be a full day, rain or shine, so bring the family and head downtown. We’ll see you there!

Coming Tonight: “Slow Train to Yesterday” Documentary Showing

The first of the two joint programs put together by PHW and the Friends of Handley Library in celebration of National Preservation Month is almost here. Tonight, May 13, we invite you to come to the auditorium at Handley Library, 100 West Piccadilly Street, for a screening of the award-winning WVPT documentary “Slow Train to Yesterday: Memories of the Railroad in the Blue Ridge Mountains.”

The documentary includes residents and railroad employees who describe the important role the railroad had in their lives as it connected mountain communities to the Shenandoah Valley. The film will be preceded by an introduction by Mason Cooper, a Stephens City resident and member of the Winchester Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

The event begins at 6:30 PM and is free and open to the public. The documentary running time is just under one hour.

Read more online at the Winchester Star in the article by Stephen Nielsen (login required).

Upcoming Events in May

CSX Train

The Friends of Handley Regional Library and Preservation of Historic Winchester are co-sponsoring a two-part program in honor of National Preservation Month 2015. National Preservation Month, established as May by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, encourages localities to see, save, and celebrate their important places with diverse activities. This year marks the second time the Friends and PHW have collaborated on a program for National Preservation Month, this year expanding the program to two days and including a kid-friendly component. Because of PHW’s involvement in the ongoing restoration of the Winchester Little Theatre’s freight station, these two free programs will celebrate the important railroad transportation in Winchester with stories and images evocative of this bygone era.

The two halves of the program are as follows:

Wednesday, May 13
Start time 6:30 P.M.

“Slow Train to Yesterday: Memories of the Railroad in the Blue Ridge Mountains” documentary showing with introduction by Mason Cooper, Winchester Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. The documentary running time is just under one hour.

Saturday, May 16
Start time 2:00 P.M.

“See! Save! Celebrate! Winchester’s Railroad History” lectures and slideshows by author and railroad historian Bob Cohen and Executive Assistant for Preservation of Historic Winchester Sandra Bosley.
The Saturday event includes a separate, concurrent children’s program suitable for grades 2-5 with hands-on activities, a model train, and “then and now” themed photographs of Winchester.

Both events will be held at the Auditorium of the Handley Library, 100 West Piccadilly Street, Winchester, Virginia. For more information or questions, please contact Barbara Dickinson, Executive Director of the Friends of Handley Regional Library, at (540) 662-9041 ext. 31 or friends@handleyregional.org.

If you would like additional printed postcards for this event for handouts, please stop by the PHW office and pick some up from the back door of the Hexagon House, 530 Amherst Street. They’re free!

May 16 is a busy day elsewhere around downtown, with Fort Loudoun Day at 419 North Loudoun Street from 10 A.M.-1 P.M. and Kidzfest all day on the Old Town Mall. We hope to see you at one (or more!) of these activities in May!

While you are having fun with all the warm weather activities, PHW is also soliciting preservation award nominations for local projects, people, and publications that have enhanced our community. While nominations are always open, to be considered for a 2015 award, please make sure you make your nominations no later than 5 P.M. on Monday, June 8 – the last time the PHW board will meet before the Annual Meeting on June 28th.