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”.
We are working on building our preservation store on our website. Besides the Speedheater Paint Removal System we are adding John Leeke’s Practical Restoration Reports. These reports are able to be used by homeowners, contractors, and architects to provide an industry standard within restoration to work to. The reports we are going to carry are: Save Your Wood Windows, Wood-Epoxy Repairs, Wood Gutters, Exterior Wood Columns, Mouldings, Exterior Woodwork Details, and Managing Maintenance. A sample of Save Your Wood Windows
http://historichomeworks.com/hhw/reports/WoodWindowsSampleScr.PDF is available at the link above.
If you know of a preservation product or tool that you cannot live without let us know we are always looking for additional products to added to our website to help people restore/preserve their buildings with sensitivity.
Have a great holiday weekend!
Last Saturday, June 7, Chuck, Lois, and Danielle drove to Bellefonte, Pennsylvania (right above State College) to conduct a seminar for the Borough of Bellefonte as part of their wood window seminar day in the park. There were various other exhibitors (replacement windows, storm windows, and stained glass window experts with booths) as part of the window fair.
It was a hot day with high humidity on top of the heat – I would describe it as oppressive. We made do with the weather (which impacted the turn out) and moved our presentation into the park gazebo where there was shade and benches for the attendees.
Despite the small crowd we had a good time discussing the importance of wood windows to a historic building, the replacement cycle (caused by inferior new growth wood and modern construction practices – the replacement window salesman was not happy with this aspect of the discussion), and storm window options (interior and exterior). We also covered energy efficiency of wood windows, with support from the University of Vermont Wood Window Report (showing the energy savings is less than a dollar a year when wood windows are replaced with modern replacement windows), how to make wood windows more energy efficient, and a demonstration of the steps to repair wood windows.
We enjoyed sharing our knowledge with the few concerned homeowners and the Borough of Bellefonte’s available HARB members. We look forward to visiting this Victorian city again in the near future.