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Lancaster, Pa is the oldest inland city in the United States. Lancaster City also boast itself as the largest designated historic district in the U. S. with it’s four square miles of structures that tell the story of this settlement’s life since 1730.
We live in the city and enjoy the urban feel of a downtown area stepping over the cusp into revitalization and neighborhoods that tell how the citizens prospered and moved away from the city center, yet remained connected through the grid of streets layed out like the spokes of a wheel. In our neighborhood homes were built with brick and mortar in the late Victorian Architectural age 1870-1910. A middle class community mix of professional trades people, doctors, attorneys and middle management of local industries. Getting to my point. The past four months I have watched a beautiful home be ravaged by people who I am sure have good intentions. Before the recent remodel the home was divided into two separate living spaces, O.K. the use of this building did not change. The goal of the homeowners is to create income producing units at an affordable price – Great Idea. Here’s where I start to have “issues” with what I’ve seen as the answer to the question of housing that is considered “affordable”. All of the original double hung solid wood windows were removed from their openings and replaced with an “inexpensive” plastic replacement window. The original windows, weights and sash cords were tossed into a dumpster. Solid wood exterior and interior doors were last seen stacked on the front porch. Interior trim that surrounded the original windows, doors, original base boards in the house has been removed and sent to a landfill. Plaster walls have been covered with drywall. If you were to walk into this house today you would see freshly painted walls- white, new wall to wall carpet – covering hardwood floors, modern windows, masonite exterior doors and hollow core interior doors, trim purchased from Home Depot.
My question is, why must a place be cheapened so that the house will be considered affordable? What does that say about the attitude of the person who has made the offer of this space to the people who will live there?
I believe that the goal could have been achieved without losing the architectural detail of the original house parts, parts that could have been repaired with some knowledge and thoughtful care. Now the material that was put into this house was designed to be destroyed or obsolete in just a few years. The house will never be the same, the future holds more neglect and destruction in the wake of creating “affordable housing”.

About Danielle Keperling

Danielle Groshong-Keperling has worked full-time in the restoration industry since 2001, but her education in the traditional trades, construction industry, and historical preservation was built from an early age through her Father's work in the traditional trades and her Mother's love of historic architecture. Now, with Jonathan (an artisan craftsman in his own right), her partner in business and life, they work together to help historic building owners restore and preserve their piece of our built history.