Historic Preservation

Longwood Plantation: Natchez, Mississippi

April 3, 2014

Built in 1861, Longwood Plantation is the largest octagonal house in America, and one of the best remaining examples of Moorish Revival style architecture. This six-story, 30,000 square foot mansion was designed by Samuel Sloan of Philadelphia for wealthy planter Haller Nutt and his wife, Julia Williams Nutt. As the home neared completion, the Civil War broke out and construction halted. Haller nut died in 1864, and his wife Julia, and their eight children, continued to live in the finished first floor of the home for several years.  

Longwood remained in the Nutt family until 1968. After a brief ownership of the McAdams family in Austin, Texas, the plantation and its 94 acres were donated to Pilgrimage Garden Club of Natchez in 1970. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1969, tours of Longwood are given daily every 30 minutes. Beginning on the finished first floor, guides share the Nutt family history as well as pieces from the permanent collection. The tour then moves to the upper levels where visitors can explore the “bones” of this architectural gem.

The completed house was to have had 32 rooms, 26 fireplaces, 115 doors, 96 columns, and a total of 30,000 square feet of living space, but only nine of the 32 rooms were finished. In the unfinished rooms you can see all the layers of construction, tools left behind by workmen, even luggage trunks that arrived for the family are still there just waiting to be opened. You can even see the framework of the sixteen-sided onion dome cupola inside. 

A system of mirrors had been designed to reflect sunlight to the many rooms of Longwood from the windows in the sixteen-sided tower atop the house. The chimney-like shape of the house was intended to funnel warm air up toward the top of the cupola, creating an updraft that escaped through windows high in the building, thus drawing fresh air into the lower floors.

Showing off unfinished and deteriorating architecture, Longwood Plantation is not your typical house museum. In this case, seeing Longwood in its entirety, helps tell the story of the Nutt family and serves as a unique metaphor for the “rise and fall of the Old South.” After touring the mansion, make sure you allow plenty of time to stroll the grounds and get lost under the oaks.

Photo: James Butters on April 14, 1936 for the Library of Congresses’ Historic American Buildings Survey
 

My good friend Claire Cothren, a natchezian and fellow blogger, introduced myself and a few other preservationists to Longwood Plantation several years ago and it is one of my favorite house museums to date. Spring and fall are ideal times to visit and enjoy perfect weather and pilgrimage season. Both spring and fall pilgrimage are month long celebrations of Natchez history with the crown jewels being the dozens of mostly private antebellum homes on tour for visitors.  If you love architecture and history, a visit to Longwood and Natchez is a must.

Sources: The New Southern View, Natchez Pilgrimage Tours, and National Historic Landmarks Program

Rainbow Bakery

March 25, 2014

rainbow bakery The new (to me) vegan bakery in Bloomington, Rainbow Bakery, is full of color, mid-century mod fun, and pastries. I’m not a vegan by any means but I am a fan of baked goods. It doesn’t hurt that this new kid on the block is located in a cool historic building downtown.

The building, now called I FELL, was built in 1930 by Isaac Fell. What was originally an Auburn Cord Duesenberg car dealership, is now home to the Rainbow Bakery, the Bloomington Clay Studio, The Collective Press and several other artist studios. More on the I Fell building next week.

Rainbow Bakery has only been open since August 2013, but they seem like a seasoned pros, cranking out a variety of muffins, breads, cupcakes, and donuts each day as well as your coffee bar favorites. Decked in mid-century finds, Rainbow Bakery captures the fun of baking. The decor and logo are just as cheery as their baked goodies.  Retro formica kitchen tables line the cafe and funky globe and paper lanterns hang throughout the space. One of my favorite repurposed pieces is  the 50s stove turned sugar and creamer station.  The bakery nods to America’s kitschy past while their food is an updated version of all your favorite treats. There is something for everyone each day:  jumbo cinnamon rolls, vanilla lavender cupcakes, gluten free mushroom and sage scones, green tea donuts, the list goes on and on. Follow them on Instagram and you’ll see what I mean.

rainbow bakery

German Village: Columbus, Ohio

March 17, 2014

Just south of downtown Columbus, Ohio lies German Village. This urban neighborhood filled with manicured gardens, beautiful homes, unique shops, and restaurants is an incredible example of how grassroots historic preservation efforts can save a neighborhood.

German Village

German Village was developed primarily between 1840-1914 and become home to a largely German population (hence the name) by the end of the 1950s. People spoke German in schools, stores, church and most professionals spent their leisure time in the neighborhoods various bier gartens. This village was a little slice of Germany for many immigrants.

A manufacturing zoning ordinance and two world wars had left the once thriving and solidly built neighborhood a slum. In the 1959, the entire village faced wholesale demolition, but a group of like-minded citizens under the direction of Frank Fetch,  joined together to form the German Village Society.  With preservation and rehabilitation as their main goals, the German Village Society were able to achieve both by changing the zoning ordinance, and ensured the neighborhoods protection by creating a local historic district. German Village was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Ironically, the same characteristics that urban renewal studies of Columbus used to describe “blight” are the very attributes that give German Village its unique and appreciated character today: small lots, narrow streets and the absence of new development.

german village

“The German Village Society presently has nearly 1,000 preservationist-minded members who are dedicated to maintaining the historic quality of the buildings and neighborhood. As a result, German Village is currently considered one of the most desirable areas to live in the city, if not the premiere place in Columbus to live.  More than 1,600 buildings have been restored since 1960, and it is credited as one of the most premiere restoration districts in the world. Today, German Village is a model of urban neighborhood preservation and revitalization - a nationally recognized success story. The average home price in the neighborhood is $377,450 and several are well over $1 million. The Village is mostly a residential neighborhood of sturdy, red-brick homes with wrought iron fences along tree-lined, brick-paved streets.”

Charming homes and gardens aren’t the only reason to explore German Village. This neighborhood is also home to a variety of locally owned businesses and restaurants. A couple of my favorites… Pistachia Vera and Hausfrau Haven. It doesn’t get much better than pastries and wine.

German Village

 

Sources: German Village SocietyGerman Village CVB 

Maxwell Hall

February 23, 2014

Maxwell Hall

First known as Library Hall, Maxwell Hall was designed by George W. Bunting in the fashionable Romanesque Revival style. Constructed in 1890, it was the second location for the Indiana University library housing 60,000 volumes in the main reading room. In 1896, electricity was added to the building so the library could offer evening hours. By 1907, enrollment had increased enough to force the library to move to Franklin Hall.  READ MORE

Hinkle-Garton Farmstead

February 16, 2014

Hinkle-Garton Farmstead

The Hinkle-Garton Farmstead is a nineteenth century farm that was donated in 2003 to Bloomington Restoration Inc.(local preservation non-profit) by Daisy Garton, a long-time resident of Bloomington. I’ve been told by some locals that Ms. Garton was a staunch preservationist in town and was responsible for saving many of the cities most impressive landmarks. Hinkle-Garton Farmstead now serves as the BRI headquarters and as a museum for the community.  READ MORE

Olive & Sinclair

February 12, 2014

Once home to HG Hills Food Store in the early 1900s, an Archway Cookies factory, and a woodworking factory, 1628 Fatherland Street, Nashville, Tennessee is now home to one of my favorite chocolatiers, Olive & Sinclair. 

Olive & Sinclair

via Olive & Sinclair

Nashville-based DAAD Architects under Nick Dryden were brought on this project to ensure the circa-1890 building’s historic bones would be preserved, while creating a functional factory. The updated space features elements such as glass deco-lighting from a 1930’s schoolhouse, a gothic communion table from the early 1900‘s serving as the factory’s retail counter, factory pendant lighting was repurposed from an army barracks outside Atlanta , even repurposed wood floors sourced from a neighboring house in Lockeland Springs.  READ MORE

Friday Five: Holiday Houses

December 20, 2013

Friday Five: Holiday Houses in Athens, Georgia
Happy Holidays!
All of these photos were taken by Ryan Hines at the Athens Clarke Heritage Foundation event Christmas in Cobbham in December 2011 in Athens, Georgia.

Shop Small

November 23, 2013

shop small

Shop Small next Saturday! Small Business Saturday is November 30.

shop local To celebrate small business, I’ll be sharing a series of local small businesses I love. Get in on the convo with hashtags #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat! Find out more here.

#Presconf Indy

November 20, 2013

It’s been a couple of weeks since my trip down the road Indy for the National Preservation Conference. Aptly entitled Preservation at the Crossroads, this year’s conference took a hard look at the future of preservation, our roles as preservationists, how to stay relevant, and how to attract new audiences to our cause.

I don’t currently work in preservation proper; however, I still consider myself a preservationist. Newly transplanted in the Midwest from the deep South, I joined the social media team for Indiana Landmarks to meet some new folks, check out Indy, and reintroduce myself to the world of preservation. Here are some of my takeaways from this year’s preservation conference.

5. Indy is beautiful.

I’m so glad I squeezed in some time to walk around downtown Indy. Like Mayor Ballard said at the opening plenary, “I bet most of you will leave Indy saying, I never knew.” So true; I had no idea. Look forward to coming back!

4. Times they are a changing.

Preservation Conference Stephanie Meeks’ opening speech began this notion of change in my mind that seemed to carry throughout my conference experience. Here are a few poignant quotes I managed to scribble and tweet.

“Is it time to move away from the house museum as our “go to” strategy for preservation?”- Stephanie Meeks. “Historic Preservation should be focused more about quality of life and less about history.”- Gustavo Araoz.  ”Always let people comment. Even if they’re crazy.” -@presnation twitter

Are we becoming more laid-back? Or are we just realizing that the more inclusive preservation is the more we can achieve? Perhaps a little of both.

hippies

 

There also seemed to be a new catch phrase to describe advocacy and membership tactics to attract the elusive “young, engaged, and diverse” crowd preservation is after: “Preservation through the back door.” Couldn’t help but think of this…

 

 

3. Preservationists are jumping on the social media bandwagon.

presconf

#presconf tweetup; Me and Kaitlin

One of the biggest challenges for preservation has been spreading the preservation gospel to the unconverted; thanks to social media, the message is spreading a little faster. The presconf tweetup was the biggest to date and the New Media, New Audiences session led by Kaitlin O’Shea of Preservation in Pink was packed. It was great to finally meet many preservation bloggers/tweeters I’ve been following for a while!

2. Don’t be stodgy.

presconf coaster

Landmark Society of Western New York Coaster

Preservation doesn’t have to be boring. With some creativity and strategic partnerships, preservation can be fun, dare I say cool. An inspiring and important session was Cocktails, Coloring Books, and Cyberspace in which the Landmark Society of Western New York introduced several of their new advocacy and membership tools. My favorite? The “Where the #&@$ am I? coaster. The Landmark Society will partner with historic bars in Rochester, New York in order to have these coasters available for patrons. Each coaster has a QR code specific to that bar; when scanned, the code will direct the user to a website that will tell the history of the bar and show it’s location. Pretty genius.

1. Just Do It.

Art, Heritage, and Quality of Life: Lessons from the Venice Biennale preached a “just do it” approach to public places, heritage, and art. Traditional preservation work can be quite tedious because of bureaucratic red tape but this session left me feeling inspired to work on a few preservation projects I’ve kept on the back burner for a while now. The Howling Mob Society (bottom left), New Public Sites (top left), and M12 Studio (right), reminded us that it can be quite liberating to operate outside the lines.

Bonus takeaway: Verncaular architecture rockstar and keynote speaker, Henry Glassie, holds a striking resemblance to Sam Elliot. Thanks Tiffany from Historic Indianapolis for pointing that out!

henry glassie

Thank you again to Indiana Landmarks for the opportunity to work on the social media team! Stay tuned for more about my upcoming preservation projects.

 

Sunday funday photo

November 10, 2013

victorian A weekend in Georgia calls for an oldie from my days surveying in Hancock County, Georgia.

 

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