Author Archive

Historic Properties for Sale: The Feds Are Alright Edition

Posted on: June 3rd, 2011 by David Garber

 

The East Coast doesn’t have the same glowing neon romance of the West Coast - those quivering sunsets through L.A. palms and streets dripping with celebrity, mid-century nostalgia, and the overspray of a hundred automatic lawn sprinklers shaking booty to the rythm of the volume-up convertables driving by.

Instead, the East Coast prides itself on it's more muted sensibilities. More about deep roots and an idealized Martha Stewart Living appeal. Gingham and boxwoods. Colonial Williamsburg. Summers on the Chesapeake Bay and Martha’s Vineyard. Central Park. Subways, soft shell crabs, and Arnold Palmers. Oh, and history. Lots of history.

134 Elfreth's Alley in Philadelphia. Click photo for the listing.

Federal Style architecture is historic East Coast. That might be a little unfair to the slew of other styles and architectural periods, but if you're thinking stately and symmetrical, iron and brick (or wood, stone, or stucco), and fanlight windows over front doors, it's likely you're thinking Federal. And you guessed it, all of today's Historic Properties for Sale are in the Federal Style. So grab a lobster roll, sit back, and get buyin'!

First up is a wonderful end-unit rowhouse on Philadelphia's Elfreth's Alley, "the nation's oldest residential street." The house is actually completely asymmetrical from the front, which lends it a whimsical Fairy-tale Federal (just made that up but hoping it catches on) feel. The 1800 home features 3 bedrooms, two full baths, and a still-works-today period color scheme.

Next is the Peter Barnart House in Salem, New Jersey (just outside Wilmington, Delaware). This completely charming house is listed for only - wait for it - $149,000. Situated on the historic Market Street, this 1800 clapboard Federal has four bedrooms, one and a half baths, and a farmhouse kitchen.

A bedroom in the Oyer House in Huntingdon, PA. Click photo for the listing.

The Oyer House in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania is only a 20-minute drive to State College. So for you Nittany Lions fans out there, this might just be the place for you. Immaculately restored, yet fitted out with modern appliances and amenities, this house exudes Federal Style and East Coast class.

Last up is the Coon Tavern in Haverhill Corner, New Hampshire. The name doesn't exactly scream "Federal" (if I had to guess I'd probably go with some sort of ramshackle log cabin), but this 1800 (okay I'm starting to see a theme here...) tavern-turned home is one of the more put-together, symmetry-or-die homes I've seen listed. But with its perfectly American backyard barn and effortless-looking landscaping, this home just about perfect.

Still on the lookout? Check out the many, many other listings at our Historic Properties for Sale page.

David Garber is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. After writing the intro, he wants to be within sight of a palm tree *immediately*, and wonders if he just might try to scrounge together a West Coast (insert hand symbol) only blog post one of these days.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Preservation Round-Up: Grab Bag Edition

Posted on: June 2nd, 2011 by David Garber

 

The Golden Building in Dorchester, Boston, as it looked last December. (Photo: Historic Boston, Inc.)

Today's preservation round-up is all about ... wait, scratch that, it's completely all over the place. And that's the beauty of a round-up, right? So, rather than conniving a theme out of a pleasantly diverse set of preservation-related stories, I'm embracing the junk drawer, er, grab bag nature of the following links and splaying them out in no particular order for your casual perusal.

And now, for those patient readers who have - dare I say - deigned to read on, please enjoy the following:

The Golden Building, after its façade restoration. (Photo: Historic Boston, Inc.)

A crowd of nearly one hundred residents, business owners, and activists gathered last Friday to celebrate Historic Boston, Inc.'s completed façade restoration at the Golden Building in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. Located in the Field’s Corner commercial district, the 116-year old building is home to a school and a collection of local businesses.

In New York City, the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) released its final plans for an emergency ventilation plant on a prominent corner right at the heart of the Greenwich Village historic district. Now home to a barbed-wire fenced parking lot, the site is notable for being the home to a makeshift 9/11 memorial of ceramic tiles that hang from the fence, and was also – until recently - widely thought to be the original diner location of Edward Hopper’s famous "Nighthawks" painting. Designs for the subway vent building have taken four years to complete, and the final product will appear as a federal-style brick façade with space at its base for the tile memorial.

Across the East River in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard, advocates for the long-threatened (and crumbling from neglect) Admiral’s Row buildings haven’t been as fortunate. The National Guard Bureau, now in charge of the site, decided last month to not require preservation of two of the buildings – the Timber Shed and Quarters B, claiming they are beyond repair. This decision sparked a flurry of letters from New York senators and congressional representatives asking for preservation. Another letter, from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, noted the importance of preservation for boosting the long-term value and significance of the site:

“The preservation of the Timber Shed and Quarters B will significantly improve the urban design and place-making aspects of the Navy Yard’s proposed development,” wrote the MAS. “The beauty and uniqueness of these historic buildings will make the development a destination, instead of just another mundane big-box development.”

For background on the story, watch this great video about Admiral's Row and its proposed redevelopment.

Down in Washington, DC, researchers at the Imaging Research Center have been meticulously recreating the visual landscape of Washington as it would have looked in its early years. See the video below, and check out their blog, Visualizing Early Washington DC for more great interactive, graphic, and video features.

Over the course of just four weekends, volunteers in San Antonio have done restoration work at 25 homes in the Dignowity Hill historic district. The program, dubbed S.T.A.R. (Students Together Achieving Revitalization), is a new effort by the city’s Office of Historic Preservation to engage architecture students from the University of Texas San Antonio and local contractors to help bring up the historic neighborhoods and homes that need the most help.

While each of the homes may have had a different rehabilitation focus, the before-and-after difference has had a significant impact on the neighborhood. The volunteer group at each house worked on stripping paint and repainting, removing and reconstructing windows, repairing siding and cleaning up the site of overgrown foliage.

Kudos to San Antonio for this great idea!

Last up is a great little blog post called “Five Tips for Designing a Great Grant Facade Program.” One of my favorites:

If funding is limited, consider micro-loan programs for signage only. For $2,500 - $5,000, you can fund attractive signs that make a significant difference to the overall look and feel of the district.

Seriously. It really is the little things like signs that make a huge difference.

David Garber is a member of the Digital and New Media Team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The thought of grab bags reminds him of the prize box his dentist used to let him sift through after a fluoride treatment. Anyone else? Bueller?

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

 

The spectacular view from "The Crown Jewel of South Hill" in Bellingham, WA. Click photo for listing.

A room with a view. No, not the 1986 classic starring Helena Bonham Carter. I’m talking quite literally about houses with spectacular vistas. Whether you’re a city person, a country person, or a little bit of both, that’s typically the goal, right? Views of Central Park. Views of the valley. Mountain views. Ocean views. Skyline views. Views are as much a selling point as granite countertops and walk-in closets dedicated entirely to shoes. As has already made completely obvious in this introduction, today’s Historic Properties for Sale post is about the views. From Bellingham, Washington, to Boyds, Maryland – these houses can wow and inspire “Honey, look!” conversations in even the most stone-hearted of basement-dwellers.

First up is “The Crown Jewel of South Hill” in Bellingham, Washington. While looking through the pictures, I had to google “Goonies film location” because this house overlooks a very similar perfectly-Northwest landscape of faded pastel and rusty-rooftop homes, evergreens, and the Americana grit of small town industrial waterfront as in the pre-teen 80s adventure. But it turns out “The Goonies” was filmed in Astoria, Oregon. Anyway. Built in 1906 by the wealthy owner of a local shingle mill, this neoclassical home is outfitted with modern kitchen and baths, awesome porches and decks (see above), and even a wood-paneled attic ping-pong room. Truffle Shuffle worthy if you ask me.

The view from "The Jewel of Cataline Island." (Click photo for listing.)

Moving on down the coast to, well, just off the coast, this next house is listed as “The Jewel of Catalina Island.” Hold the phone – another “jewel of” listing? Yes, and with these views it’s hard to argue with that name. Once the home of American author Zane Grey, this pueblo-style home is just 15 minutes by helicopter and an hour away by boat to Los Angeles.

This next house does not *collective sigh of relief* have the word “jewel” in its name, but boy does it have views. Built in 1878 by the niece and nephew-in-law of Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine, the home – named Winderborne - is surrounded by the 500-acre Seneca Lake in Boyds, Maryland, just 30 miles northwest of Washington, DC. Unlike the first two properties, this house is in need of substantial interior and exterior work. Try to think of it more as an investment in “making it your own” rather than any sort of Tom Hanks in “The Money Pit”-style venture. Yes, there really is an 80s movie reference for everything.

David Garber is a member of the Ditigal and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The first house he bought had an amazing view of the National Cathedral. One only had to squeeze through a hatch in the attic, climb up to the roof, and wait for all the neighborhood leaves to fall to really see it.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Historic Properties for Sale: Poolside and Dreaming Edition

Posted on: May 20th, 2011 by David Garber

 

Lean back in your chair, close your eyes, and think about what makes a great summer house. There are the images of screen doors, newspaper and crab-covered red check table cloths, and fresh-cut hydrangeas in brightly-colored watering cans. There are the glowing pillar candles in sand-and-starfish-filled glass canisters lighting time-worn wicker furniture, white wine, and good laughs. Model ships, crisp white columns, and chicken-wire cabinetry. Lemonade in Bell jars. Splashes of nautical Americana - the rope-strung signal flags, mounted oars, and ship wheels on wall sconces - abound in glorious summerhousity. But then there’s that other element, the bullet point on the realtor’s brochure that caught your weary winter eye and made you pick up the phone and call for more information. That element that helped define why you fell in love with the house in the first place.

[This is where we pause to acknowledge that there are three different summer house dreams: houses on the beach, houses in the mountains/country, and houses with pools. If you already have a house that manages to satisfy all three, let’s talk. I have a week in July I’m trying to book and I think we’d be great friends.]

Ingleside Estate in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. (Photo: StoneHouse Properties)

For today’s Historic Properties for Sale post, I’ve pulled together a boutique collection (real estate lingo for “list”) of houses with pools. Shimmering, refreshing, anything-to-get-the-kids-away-from-their-screens, aquamarine pools.

First up is the “could this be any more classic New England” Ingleside Estate in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Situated on over 17 acres, the white clapboard house was originally built in 1748 and was substantially renovated in the 1870s. Ingleside features an oval pool and separate pool house lounge, and grounds that boast a formal apple tree allée, tall evergreens, mature boxwoods, meandering stone walls, and an impressive collection of ornamental trees. With seven bedrooms, five and a half baths, and a modern kitchen, the main house might just be the perfect family escape.

A 1913 Craftsman in Dallas, Texas. (Click photo to see the listing)

Now, this next house is right in the heart of old Dallas. Hey, who am I to discriminate if someone’s looking for the perfect neighborhood escape? This 1913 Craftsman home has an amazing front porch, updated kitchen, four bedrooms, two baths, a separate guest cottage, and an immaculate landscape and backyard pool. Yours for the seemingly quite reasonable price of $485,000.

Last is the equal parts grand and welcoming Greek Revival “Hillcrest” estate in Clifton Forge, Virginia. Surrounded by the Allegheny Mountains, the house is just 30 minutes south of the historic Homestead Resort. With limitless access to the great outdoors, this house is a perfect mountain/country escape for anyone interested in hiking, fishing, and small-town exploration. Then again, with a pool out back, some of that exertion might just have to wait.

Okay, folks, the blog post is up. And ‘round these parts, the competition is stiff. So crunch those numbers, call the movers, and get ready for a summer of poolside bliss. And if a pool isn’t the end all, be all feature for you, check out the many other listing on our Historic Properties for Sale website.

Cannonball!!!

David Garber is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He will be spending this summer's pool season mostly indoors, writing blog posts about historic preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Preservation Round-Up: View from the Street Edition

Posted on: May 19th, 2011 by David Garber

 

A block of Washington, DC's fast-changing H Street NE. (Photo: Flickr user tedeytan)

Another reason we love preservation? Because it helps deepen the context and expand the stories of the streets, neighborhoods, towns, and cities that our work is part of. The further we go in the past, the more important specific places were for where buildings were located. People relied on weather patterns, natural light, and horse-drawn carriage travel distances. This house was built on that hill because it needed a view of that field. This building was built on that axis because it needed sunlight in that room. This community was built on that land because of that soil. It’s easy to forget those contextual needs in an age when we can light any room at any time, buy any kind of fruit in any season, and travel great distances in a short amount of time. But there’s a richness to the historical context. Today’s round-up is the “View from the Street” edition because these stories are just as much about place and placement as they are about the structures themselves.

What got me thinking about this? Earlier this week, Knox Heritage released their “Fragile Fifteen” list of endangered historic places, and most of the buildings listed are treasured because of the way they add historical context to the changing areas around them. Interestingly, most of their sites are at or controlled by the University of Tennessee (alumni, raise your voices!), whose master plan eliminates many old and original structures. Another, the Martin-Russell House, in danger of being moved:

The Martin-Russell House has remained at its original location for 175 years, a rare feat in this part of the world. Its location was determined by the modes of transportation employed during the era it was built and it still stands at a heavily traveled crossroads.

But chin up, friends, there’s a lot of good news to be had.  The High Line Park in New York City is a total triumph of contextual preservation and adaptation, and Phase 2 of the elevated railroad-turned-urban-oasis is opening in June. Enjoy this crazy awesome video that celebrates the new section of emerald goodness:

Across the country in Los Angeles, the Glendale City Council approved the design for the Museum of Neon Art. If we’re talking about views from the street, this museum is kind of the perfect fit. You’re going to want to click through to see the renderings of this building (and, if you’re anything like me, fall in love with the Virginia Court Motel Diver sign that will serve as the museum’s figurehead). Most of the signs were designed and built for very specific contexts that no longer exist, so it will be interesting to see how the museum celebrates and examines the signs’ original homes.

Here’s a fresh idea: new art designed for an old building context. In Ensched, Netherlands (but this would most definitely work in America, too), URBANSCREEN came up with the idea to project a video onto a building’s façade that examines the relationship between inside and outside, privacy and publicity.

It’s easy to think of built context apart from people and population context. For the neighborhoods surrounding Washington, DC’s fast-changing H Street NE, it’s impossible to separate the two. Sarah L. Courteau at The Wilson Quarterly wrote a piece called “New to the Neighborhood: How can you be called an urban pioneer when you move to an inner-city neighborhood where families have lived for generations?” In it, she talks about the people, relationships, and power struggles at play as her neighborhood transitions.

Walking down H Street, it’s hard not to feel a heady sense of inevitability. Change! Progress! And to hold the conviction that all the choices I make about how I live—the way I keep up my yard, the restaurants and shops I patronize, the kinds of foodstuffs I buy at the local grocery store—are contributions to a joint project of incremental improvement that’s spread among thousands of households.

The places we interact with and invest in are all part of larger contexts, and preservation and adaptation are important tools for giving those contexts character, new life, and an increased communal pride of place. What are the pieces of your community that need to be highlighted? In what small ways can you give depth to the story of your street, neighborhood, or city?

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.