Friday Roundup: A Little Weekend Reading

Door To the Past
Found! This article was alluded to at the end of Sandra Bosley’s presentation on the Conrad House in the Godfrey Miller House summer lecture series last year. You might remember that we were unable to find the article to confirm details prior to the presentation. The article turned up last week in an unexpected spot. If you want a little backstory on how this door was saved and placed in the Joint Judicial Center, we finally have it for you!

Why America’s New Apartment Buildings All Look the Same via Bloomberg As the subtitle adds, “cheap stick framing has led to a proliferation of blocky, forgettable mid-rises—and more than a few construction fires.” The article, despite the somewhat alarmist headline, is a realistic look at the new development encroaching on our historic districts and urban centers.

Are you interested in a hands-on preservation career? There will be positions opening soon in the Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Program (TTAP) through the National Park Service near us. TTAP provides hands-on, historic preservation trade skills training during an intensive six-month learning-while-working experience. Upcoming positions will be available at Manassas National Battlefield Park, Gettysburg National Military Park, Antietam National Battlefield, and the Historic Preservation Training Center. Learn more at their website and check out the positions open now.

How Do You Preserve History on the Moon? That’s not something you often think about in your average day of historic preservation, but if you’re interested in preservation of this landmark scientific achievement, this is an eye-opening article and well worth the read. The challenges here present new challenges, but seeing it be discussed at all is an encouraging sign.

If it’s hard to get a quiet hour in the middle of your day for an interesting webinar, the National Trust has your back with The Rosenwald Schools GIS Mapping Project. This webinar from January 30 is now available for review any time, and additional questions that were not answered during the presentation are addressed in the linked blog post.

If you appreciate a bit of historical sleuthing, you might enjoy the story of a serpentine-backed blue damask sofa gifted to George and Martha Washington. A recreation of the sofa has been added to Mount Vernon for guests to view it in all its 1760s fashionable glory.

If you are doing research on African-Americans, you may want to check out the newly-merged databases now available at the Virginia Untold website. As of a quick check this morning, there are ten records for Winchester and 712 for Frederick County in the database.

Is Your City Racing to the Bottom or the Top? There’s a lot for a historic preservationist to love about this article, including the recommendation to “Look for the old buildings in town with good bones that, with a bit of loving restoration, could become unique spaces for retail, apartments, co-working spaces, libraries — whatever the neighborhood needs. People are drawn to the character of older, repurposed buildings…. A program to finance some or all of the building renovation could prove a better investment than a tax abatement for a new formula store on the edge of town.”

To come full circle, you may also want to check out Savor Your Small Parcels, and Create More of Them. There is typically a bias against development of lots that are found in urban centers – lots around 50 x 100 ft. – and pressure to combine smaller parcels into large scale development packages. The author Kevin Klinkenberg writes of his time in Kansas City: “We had developer clients that were building homes and small mixed-use buildings on greenfield parcels of that size (so we knew what was possible) but those types of projects were often dismissed as irrelevant by planners and economic developers working in larger cities or inner-city locations. ‘That just won’t work in this corridor/neighborhood/city/market’ etc etc. Status quo bias is very difficult to overcome.” There is more information linked in his article about the “Lean Urbanism” approach that can utilize these smaller parcels into resilient development typical of our historical building patterns in cities.