After our Practical Preservation event in June at Lancaster History I reached out to our contact to see if they would have someone share their resources for researching house histories on the Practical Preservation Podcast.  Kevin Shue joined the podcast and shared his more than 30 years of experience working with the collection at Lancaster History.

There are many resources to help you find the history of our home.  The two areas of concentration most people are searching for are the year the house was built and/or the history of the people who built and subsequently lived in the house.  

Resource options:

  • Tax records
  • Deed recordings
  • Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County – individual property records from county surveys
  • Census records: population, manufactures schedule to show craftsman and trades, and agricultural schedules to show crops, livestock, and acreage
  • Estate Inventorys
  • Countywide maps
  • Fire Insurance maps
  • Photos

Photos of the Lancaster History Collection:

Bio:

Kevin worked at LancasterHistory for thirty years.  He has helped thousands of researchers over this time period.  He has help authors of numerous books, and given lectures on various topics here in Lancaster;, as well as, Dublin, Ireland, Belfast, Northern Ireland; County Tyrone, Northern Ireland; and Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.

Contact:

Lancaster History – lancasterhistory.org (research) or 717-392-4633

Hours: Monday-Saturday 9:30am-5pm

Robert Young, PhD of the University of Utah’s College of Architecture + Planning joined the Practical Preservation podcast to discuss the intersection of sustainability and preservation. During our discussion we discussed how stewardship of existing buildings is the ultimate green building (plus it is large scale recycling). Some of the other topics we discussed are:

  •  The environmental impact of building
  •  The Three Pillars of Sustainability 
  •  Trends in technology and preservation
  •  And the challenges he sees facing adaptive reuse and how to combat common myths

Robert Young, authored two books, Historic Preservation Technology and Stewardship of the Built Environment.

Contact information:

Robert A. Young, PhD, FAPT, PE, LEED AP

Professor of Architecture

Historic Preservation Program Director

University of Utah College of Architecture + Planning

375 South 1530 East; 235AAC

Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0370 T: (801) 581-3909 E: [email protected]

Bio:

Robert A. Young, PhD, professor and historic preservation program director at the University of Utah College of Architecture + Planning, specializes in stewardship of the built environment which synthesizes historic preservation, adaptive reuse, sustainability, and community revitalization. His career bridges both professional practice and academia where he has advocated for stewardship of the built environment. He is the author of the books Historic Preservation Technology and Stewardship of the Built Environment. He holds a doctorate in Metropolitan Planning, Policy, and Design and has several graduate degrees that explore resource conservation in the built environment.

Professor Young has won numerous awards for his leadership in advocating historic preservation education and practice including the Utah Heritage Foundation Lucybeth Rampton Award, the University of Utah Distinguished Teaching Award, and the University of Utah Distinguished Service Professorship. He is a licensed Professional Engineer, a member of the Association for Preservation Technology College of Fellows, and an honorary member of AIA-Utah. Originally from Maine, he has travelled to all fifty of the United States, several Canadian Provinces and parts of Europe.

Beaux Arts “Beaux-Arts” was originally a french term meaning “fine arts” or “beautiful arts”, but in the late 1800’s it came to refer to a specific style of Parisian-influenced architecture in the U.S.  A style of architecture that can be summed up with two words…

Massive and grandiose.

Marrying the classical design elements of largesse and symmetry from the Greek and Roman architectural traditions with the elaborate ornamentation from the Rennaissance design ideas, Beaux-Arts architecture became synonymous with larger-than-life, over-the-top architectural identified by the following elements:

•Constructed with stone
•Balustrades
•Balconies
•Columns
•Cornices
•Pilasters
•Triangular pediments
•Lavish decorations (swags, medallions, flowers, and shields)
•Grand stairway
•Large arches
•Symmetrical façade
•Main entrances are the center of the main facade

 

CLICK HERE TO OGLE A BUNCH OF REALLY GORGEOUS BEAUX-ARTS BUILDINGS

 

 

Never ones to do things in a ho-hum way, we’re throwing a Preservation Circus for our client appreciation day on Friday, August 22nd from 4pm to 7pm.

postcard-4inx6in-h-front

Whether you are a client, thinking about becoming a client, are just curious about what it’s like to be a Historic Restorations client, are into historic preservation, or just want to come for the free fun – come out and enjoy:

 

  • Meeting Penelope the Preservation Puppy
  • Live Bluegrass Music (one of America’s historical music forms)
  • Free food and drinks
  • Colonial themed activities for the kids
  • Touring our shop and office
  • Asking your old house questions

 

Bring a non-perishable food item for a chance to win door prizes! We’ll be collecting non-perishable food items for to help the Council of Churches restock their dwindling food bank supplies. The Council of Churches works together to provide three “no obligation” meals a day at locations throughout Lancaster City and this is the time of year they struggle to keep their pantries stocked with the amount of food they need to do so. Their important work literally feeds hundreds of people each day, with no strings attached, and we are happy to support their efforts.

Please RSVP by calling Moira at 717.291.4688 or visit www.historic-restorations.com/circus.

 

astleyDid you know?

The father of the modern circus was Philip Astley.  In the mid-1700’s he performed “feats of horsemanship” in a circular arena he called a “ring”.  Not only did the circular shape help the audience to see him at all times, it also generated the centrifugal force Astley needed to keep his balance while standing on the back of his galloping horses.

In 1770 he decided he needed more novelty in his performances and added acrobats, rope-dancers, jugglers, and a clown.  And so the modern circus was born.

 

 

 

Hi! I’m Penelope and I’m new around here, but my Mommy and Daddy know a lot about historic preservation and have been teaching me new things every day.Penelope Pic (1)

Yesterday they taught me not to chew on Karri’s office slippers (even if I really want to) and then they taught me something that really blew my mind…

Historic wood windows are one of the most “at risk” features of our historic homes.

Now, I’m still learning words, but “at risk” sounds pretty bad to me.  And apparently it’s all because the replacement window industry wants us to believe their plastic windows are better than wood windows.

But my Mommy and Daddy tell me it isn’t true.  They say wood windows not only look better in old houses, they don’t cause the moisture issues replacement windows do, AND they are more energy efficient.  They told me the guidelines for the best way to take care of America’s historic buildings say you should preserve and maintain your wood windows instead of replacing them.

And Mommy and Daddy don’t usually lie to me.

My Grandpa Chuck tells me that so many people didn’t know this and fell into the replacement window sales company’s clutches, that he’s been replacing a lot of replacement windows lately.  (I guess when people realize the plastic windows they put in weren’t the right choice they call him to make wood windows for them.  I wanna be just like him when I grow up.)

Now I have a secret to tell you, but you have to promise not to tell my Mommy and Daddy…  They gave me a report I was supposed to read so I could tell you more about this, but I was too pooped from spending the day at the office and I fell asleep before I finished it.

So I’m going just going to let you read this report for yourself:

“Put Replacement Windows to Shame: 10 Tools to Make Your Historic Wood Windows Last for Generations”

Window Report Image (Smaller File)Mainstream consumer trends would have you believe that you should replace your historic wood windows with vinyl, or other synthetic replacement windows.

Of course, you own a historic home – not a McMansion – making you anything but the typical consumer who follows mainstream trends.

Boy is this report for you, because in it we are going to give you the knowledge and tools you need to buck the system and put replacement windows (and their uneducated salesmen) to shame.

To get your copy of the report, call or email Moira at 717.291.4688 or [email protected]

There is no architectural element in our historic architecture more nostalgic than the American porch.  We remember playing on them as kids.  We hung out on them with our friends as teenagers (probably stealing a kiss or two we weren’t supposed to have yet).  We sat on them as adults sipping iced tea on hot summer evenings.  We visited with friends and family laughing and playing cards.  We sat on them to watch parades.  Some of us even slept on them to escape the oppressive heat inside on hot summer nights.

But where did porches come from and how did they become the porches we know today?  Here’s a quick primer on the history of the American porch.

Late 1700’s –

Porches were utilitarian covered doorways or flanked “stoops” that protected the main entrances from the weather and served as transitions to and from the outdoors

historic porches, history of porches,

Governor’s Palace, Colonial Williamsburg
Photo by Fletcher6 on Wikipedia

 

1778 –

George Washington sets the porch building standard with his American classical porch at Mt. Vernon

historic porches, history of porches

George Washington’s Mt. Vernon
Photo by Martin Falbisoner on Wikipedia

 

Early 1800’s –

Longer porches that span the entire front of homes become more popular

 

1800’s –

Porches in the Northeast were called “piazzas”, a word adapted from the Italian word for “open space”

 

Porches in the south were called “verandas”, a term that reflected British colonial design influences from India.  This term would eventually become the dominant term along the East Coast.

 

Porches in the French colonial areas of the deep South wrapped around the entire house and were referred to as “galleries”.

 

Porches in Spanish colonial architecture were called “arcades”.

 

1830’s & 40’s –

The classic columns of the Greek Revival make their way onto porches of public buildings, hotels, and mansions

Historic porches, history of porches

Millford Plantation, South Carolina
Photo by Jack Boucher on Wikipedia

 

Mid 1800’s –

Porches have fully evolved from transition spaces into gathering places for socializing

 

The growing middle class builds homes with elaborate porches dressed with fancy millwork in new suburban neighborhoods.

 

Late 1800’s –

Highly decorated wrap-around Queen Anne style porches became wildly popular and are even added to small and simple houses.

historic porches, history of porches

Carson Mansion in California
Photo by Cory Maylett on Wikipedia

 

 

Porches are now used as outdoor living spaces and their shaded and landscaped privacy offered a discreet meeting spot in an age obsessed with propriety.

 

1873 –

President Rutherford B. Hayes: “The best part of the present house is the veranda.  But I would enlarge it.  I want a veranda with a house attached.”

 

Early 1900’s –

Growing understanding and acceptance of germ theory brings medicinal value to porches as doctors begin touting the benefits of fresh air.

 

Hipped roofs and exposed rafters hit the scene on porches with bungalow architecture.

 

SLEEPING PORCHES BECOME A POPULAR AS TUBERCULOSIS SOARS.

historic porches, history of porches

Sleeping porch at the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site
Photo by Rolf Müller on Wikipedia

 

1920’s – 50’s –

As autos hit the roads, porches move to the side of the house as we retreat from the noise and dirt and seek more privacy.  Eventually they will end up at the back of the house where they will predominantly stay in new architecture for the next fifty or sixty years.

 

This article is a part of a series from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s excellent field guide on the architectural styles found in Pennsylvania.  In it, they’ve assigned key periods of development – from the Colonial period in the 18th Century to the Modern Movements of the 29th Century.  This article focuses on an overview of the Traditional/Vernacular style in Pennsylvania from 1638 through 1950

PA Architecture Bungalow/Craftsman Style 1900 – 1930

Identifiable Features

  1. One or two stories in height
  2. Overhanging eaves with exposed rafters or braces
  3. Front facing gables
  4. Multi pane windows
  5. Low pitched gable or hipped roof
  6. Full or partial front porch with study columns
  7. Prominent gabled or shed roofed dormers
Bungalow

The Bungalow or Craftsman style developed in California at the turn of the 20th century and was inspired by the English Arts and Crafts movement which brought a renewed interest in hand crafted materials and harmony with the natural environment. The original form of the Bungalow came from one story buildings surrounded by verandahs built in India in the 19th century to serve as rest houses for travelers known as “dak bungalows.”  This Eastern influence can be seen in the development of the form, setting and crafted wooden details of the Bungalow style. The Bungalow style emphasizes low, horizontal lines and a design that becomes a part of its natural setting. The hallmarks of the style, wide projecting eaves and overhanging gables with exposed rafters, and open porches with heavy square porch columns often atop stone bases, give these buildings a sense of solid construction. Architect brothers Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene are credited as the most influential early practitioners of this style.  They designed Craftsman-type Bungalows as early as 1903 in Pasadena, California.  Their beautifully detailed early designs were well received and were promulgated throughout the country through popular magazines like House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping, and  Ladies Home Journal.  Pattern books with a wide variety of Bungalow designs and complete mail order house kits soon followed, allowing the Bungalow style to spread quickly across the country.  While examples of the Bungalow style can be found throughout the United States, the style is often associated with California, since it originated there, was well suited to the warm climate and became extremely popular there in the early 20th century. With appealing, small scale house plans readily available, the Bungalow or Craftsman house was an ideal answer to the need for affordable houses for the growing middle class and developing suburbs in the first half of the 20th century.

Bungalows are square or rectangular in floor plan, usually one or one and one half stories in height with low-pitched overhanging roofs, and often include large front porches with heavy porch columns. The columns may be tapered, square, paired, or set upon stone or brick piers.  Bungalows usually have a front facing gable on a front porch, a projecting dormer or at the main roof line. The overhanging eaves usually have exposed roof rafters or decorative braces and stickwork.  Bungalows are often of clapboard or wood shingle, but may also be of  stone, brick, concrete block  or stucco. Less commonly, bungalows of log construction were built in a subtype sometimes described as Adirondack Lodge Bungalows.  Another hallmark of the Bungalow style is an open floor plan of interconnecting rooms, with the front door often opening directly into the living space.

Bungalow style houses can be found throughout the state, in a variety of both high style and vernacular forms. Whole neighborhoods of bungalows developed in the period between 1900 and 1930.

 

 

 

40 Years of Love

In a culture and generation that developed an “everything is disposable and easily replaced” attitude, Chuck and Lois bucked the trend and poured much blood, sweat, and tears into carefully tending and maintaining their love and they are reaping the rewards of all that hard work – as of last month they are celebrating 40 years of love.  This is the story of how that love began 40 years ago…

chuck and loi's 40 years love

What first attracted you to each other?

LOIS:   He was cute.  I was 23 and single.  I could date anybody I wanted.  And I wanted Chuck.  He was sweet, and I knew his family and upbringing was a good one – though he definitely turned out to be more than I expected.  I liked the way he was with his younger siblings, he was playful and kind and looked out for their best interests.

CHUCK:  She was very beautiful and exciting.  She represented all the freedom in that period of change and revolution I was experiencing after returning from Vietnam.  She was fierce and loyal and independent – she didn’t just expect respect and to be treated equally, she demanded it.  Plus, I thought we looked good together.  And she liked to ride my motorcycle.

How did you start dating?

LOIS: Our parents lived next door to each other and we had met through family activities – ball in the park, wine on Sunday evenings.  But he didn’t pay any attention to me for about the first six months we knew each other.  He did have a girlfriend so I suppose that was why, and I wasn’t going to push myself on him – he had to work out that I was the better choice by himself.  Though I wasn’t above a few female ploys here and there…like asking him to come over and open a bottle of wine for me.  Then, while I was staying with my Mother for a few weeks after a car accident, Chuck’s little sister and my little sister colluded and convinced him to take me for a ride on his motorcycle.  So he did, on February 15th of 1973 – I remember it well.  I was in my walking cast and I put my hands in his jacket pocket because I wasn’t wearing gloves and I held on….for 40 years now.

So how did marriage happen?

CHUCK: She took a little convincing to marry me.  She was living on her own and very independent and wasn’t looking to settle down, so she was reluctant to give that freedom up.  I
DocImage000000007 (1)LOIS:  I wasn’t looking to settle down, but when Chuck decides he wants something he gets very focused and pours all of his energy into getting it.  And that’s what he did when he decided he wanted me.  He was a force to be reckoned with in his pursuit of me.  He gave me tons of attention and who doesn’t love attention?think she was unsure of what I was bringing to the table.  Which was a valid concern, I used to brag that I could get everything I owned on the back of my motorcycle.

What was your wedding like?

LOIS: Our wedding was on August 4th, 1973, in Bailey, Colorado.  It was a stormy day so our plans to be married outside had to be changed, which turned out to be a very good decision since lightening struck the lodge during our ceremony.  We had two priests, both family friends of the Groshongs, and the biggest snafu was when my Mother arrived without my wedding dress.  Chuck was sent racing down the mountain on his motorcycle to get it, and I often wonder what other drivers must have thought of this motorcycle speeding past them with a wedding dress on the back of it.

While we were married on the 4th, our marriage certificate was not officially registered until August 14th, 1973 because of an error with the required blood work.  So technically we have two anniversaries – should I have been getting two gifts all these years?

How has being married to each other for 40 years changed you?

LOIS: Chuck has taught me how to be very trusting, and how to be vulnerable.  I could be completely vulnerable with him and he meets that vulnerability with reassuring comfort.  I don’t know if I would have found that with anybody else and learned how to be okay with being vulnerable.

CHUCK: Lois taught me how to have a greater appreciation for all people and more of life because she explores more of life, without her I probably would have kept myself more in a bubble.  I learned how to judge people more on an individual basis instead of general ideas and stereotypes – she’s helped me question the status quo.

Final thoughts?

LOIS: I am very lucky to have been able to spend 40 years with someone I believe so fully in and who I share so many values with that we can work together towards.

CHUCK: I was really a diamond in the rough when we met and I’m very fortunate that she decided to embrace that and work on polishing me up – and stuck with it when it took so long.

 

 

 

 

This article is a part of a series from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s excellent field guide on the historic architecture found in Pennsylvania.  In it, they’ve assigned key periods of development – from the Colonial period in the 18th Century to the Modern Movements of the 29th Century.  This article focuses on an overview of the log building style in Pennsylvania from 1638 through 1880.

 

Post Medieval English House in Pennsylvania, 1682 – 1740

Common Building Types: Houses

Identifiable Features

1.  Steeply pitched, side gable roof
2.  Narrow overhanging eaves with no cornice detail
3.  Massive chimney, central or end location
4.  Small multi-paned casement or fixed windows
5.  Timber frame and/or brick walls
6.  Batten (vertical board) door
7.  Overhanging second story with decorative pendants
8.  One room deep floor plan, sometimes a lean-to added

Click on a photo below to enlarge.

1704 - William Brinton House, Delaware County William Harvey House, Chester County Golden Plough Tavern, York County
Letitia Street House, Philadelphia County Morton House, Delaware County

The Post Medieval English form is not a true architectural style, but is a traditional type of building brought to the colonies by the early English colonists.   In shape, form, materials and appearance these buildings resemble those built in England in the late medieval period.  Initially, all of the early colonists looked to their country of origin for building techniques and practices.  Here in Pennsylvania, established as a colony by Englishman William Penn, buildings reflecting English tradition appeared at settlement.  True Post Medieval buildings are quite rare because as the earliest type of construction, few have survived. Additionally, Post Medieval English buildings were only constructed in the first settled area of the state, the south east corner near Philadelphia.  Any examples of the Post Medieval English form found outside that settlement area are almost certainly a revival form of the style, built many years later to replicate that traditional appearance. Also confusing the identification of true Post Medieval English buildings are the enthusiastically undertaken preservation efforts that have occurred since 1900 to celebrate our nation’s colonial heritage.  While distinctive common features allow the identification of Post Medieval English form buildings, research is needed to confirm the construction date and possible changes over time.

Post Medieval English buildings are rather easy to identify since their appearance is notablely different from the more common building forms.  They have steep roofs, with very little overhang and plain undecorated cornices.  The wall surface is often timber framed, sometimes with brick and stucco infill. Some buildings have a brick or even stone first floor with a timber framed and plaster upper story.   Diagonal wooden bracing is an another distinictive characteristic. Windows are small fixed or casement types with much small diamond–shape panes. (Surviving original windows would be exceedingly rare, and if present most would be restorations).  Doors are of batten or vertical board construction.  Chimneys are large, sometimes with decorative tops and placed often in the center of the building, but sometimes at the ends.  Some Post Medieval English buildings have a second floor or attic front overhang with decorative pendants.  Originally the roof would have been thatched or of wooden shakes.  These building truly have an old World appearance—the difficult part is determining if they truly date from the colonial era or are masterful reconstructions or revival efforts.  Surviving examples of this style are far more common in New England than in Pennsylvania.

 

Preservation Pennsylvania has released their “Pennsylvania At-Risk: Twenty-Year Retrospective of Pennsylvania’s Endangered Historic Properties, Where Are They Now” edition. It’s a fascinating look at preservation in action and we’ll be posting a look at each property in a series of posts over the next several months.

INTRODUCTION
Preservation Pennsylvania established the annual Pennsylvania At Risk list in 1992, making us the first statewide preservation organization in the United States to have an annual roster of endangered historic properties. Since 1992, we have listed and worked to preserve more than 200 endangered historic resources, including individual buildings, historic districts and thematic resources statewide. For 2012, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our organization, we are presenting a 20-year retrospective edition of Pennsylvania At Risk. In this issue, we revisit some of the amazing historic places across the Commonwealth, some of which have been rescued from extinction through preservation and rehabilitation efforts, and others that still need our help.

Approximately 18% of Pennsylvania’s At Risk properties have been lost, having been demolished or substantially altered. Another 32% have been saved or are in a condition or situation where the identified threat no longer poses a problem for the historic property. Approximately 50% of the 201 At Risk resources remain in danger, or we have not been able to confirm their current status as either saved or lost.

By monitoring these properties over the past 20 years and working with individuals and organizations trying to preserve them, we have learned many valuable lessons. Those lessons are called out throughout this publication.

1999 – Thomas Kent, Jr. Farm, Green County

historic preservation in pennsylvania, preserving pennsylvania's architecture, architectural preservation, historic preservation
Photo from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

 

• SAVED! (Sort of…)•

The 1851 brick farmhouse and the associated outbuildings and fields that comprise the 102-acre Thomas Kent, Jr. Farm reflect the agricultural heritage of southwestern Pennsylvania from the mid 19th century until the onset of the Great Depression. In 1999, the structural integrity of the farmhouse was threatened by longwall mining, an underground coal mining technique that removes whole panels from a coal seam without leaving columns of earth in place to support the mine ceiling. As the land above the extracted coal seam drops between four and six feet, an event known as subsidence, the surrounding land slumps and shifts. This movement results in damage to land and buildings, often disrupting or eliminating the natural water supply.

In an attempt to protect their historic farm from longwall coal mining impacts, the property owners engaged in an expensive, all-consuming multi-year legal battle. They opposed the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which issued a permit for longwall mining under their property despite the clear potential for adverse effects to this historic property. Rather than choosing an alternative that would avoid or minimize harmful impacts to the historic farm, the DEP allowed the mine operators to proceed as long as they agreed to repair the damage or compensate the property owner for their loss.

Recognizing that the DEP’s standard subsidence control and mitigation plan was insufficient, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the federal Office of Surface Mining, the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, and the DEP in 2001, allowing longwall mining to proceed under the farm, provided that appropriate repairs be carried out afterward.

Despite bands and cables wrapped around the house in an attempt to hold the structure together during mining and the subsidence that followed, cracks more than 1 3⁄4 inches wide formed in the exterior walls of the 1851 brick house. Upon completion of the longwall mining, an entire corner of the house (more than 15,000 bricks) had to be reconstructed.

Large crews spent months working to repair the damage. It is fortunate that the MOA was in place because the level of work required to repair the house was well beyond what the DEP’s standard subsidence control and mitigation plan would have repaired.  Despite a monumental legal battle to prevent damage to the farm, longwall mining was still allowed to occur. While the Thomas Kent, Jr. Farm was technically “saved” from destruction by longwall mining and has been cosmetically restored, the integrity of the building has been compromised. The owners still hear subsidence cracking more than 10 years later and worry that the house remains in danger.

While the Thomas Kent, Jr. Farm was technically saved from destruction by longwall mining and has been cosmetically restored, the integrity of the building has been compromised.

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Today, longwall mining still threatens historic resources in Pennsylvania.  Plantation Plenty (the Isaac Manchester Farm) was listed in Pennsylvania At Risk in 2010 and was included in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places as a result of proposed longwall mining.  Preservation Pennsylvania continues to work with our partners to protect this historic farm and other properties from damage by longwall mining.

historic preservation in pennsylvania, preserving pennsylvania's architecture, architectural preservation, historic preservation
Photo from Act 54 Reform

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