You hire Reserections.  If you want to have any hope of actually moving the castle a thousand miles (without the post office, the moving company, and the airlines losing a few packages and offering you a complimentary Starbucks to say “Sorry!”).
Based in Ohio, Reserections specializes in documenting, marketing, and disassembling architecturally unique historical homes.  Supporting the idea that “The Greenest Home is the One Already Built”, disassembly and relocation protects the embodied energy of structures (you know, the energy that can never, ever be regained – so it’s like taking throwing away a tank full of heating oil you already purchased just so you can fill it with new heating oil).
They carefully disassemble the homes, preserving all the key components, interior framing, exterior stone facades, roof slates, and any other recoverable materials.  (And they ship to anywhere in the world, so you could have a castle resurrected on that remote island you purchased last week.)
Currently they are offering five stone mansions, all built during the American “Gilded Age” of the Post-Civil War 1800’s, they all reflect the Richardsonian and early Beaux-Arts Classicism typically seen in the homes of the wealthy during that time.

But exactly how do they do it?

Here’s how they disassembled and relocated the 1885 Kemper Castle from Ohio to Texas.  Built by an Ohio Industrialist, the 6,200SF castle has 23 rooms, 7 bedrooms, 7 full baths, and 6 fireplaces.  (Just a bit bigger than your average beach house.)

First, all the interior components that could not be recovered were removed… plaster, drywall, etc. – leaving only the exterior walls, framing, joists, studs, and flooring.  Then the slate roof was removed and the slate recovered and packed in straw for shipping.  After 120+ years, the extremely valuable slates showed very little signs of wear.

Once the roof was gone, it was time to remove the peak of the turret.  The turret weighed 7,300 pounds.
With the peak removed, the house is ready for the removal of the stone facade.
The house must be rebuilt with each stone in the same position, so each stone is numbered.  Note the tags on each stone.  The stones are identified by an alpha designating the location of the wall and a numeric designating the location of the wall and a numeric indicating its position.  Every stone in the house is numbered.
As the stones are removed from the house, they are renumbered with permanent markings and packed in containers built on pallets for shipment.  
When originally built, the stone facade was layered over and interleaved with three courses of brick and mortar which constituted the main structure of the house walls.  In addition to the surface stones, there were many monolithic stone components that were carefully removed, some weighing over 4,000 pounds.

The Final Stones Coming Down

The stones are palletized and trucked to their destination in Texas where the Kemper Castle will find a new home.  This flatbed load weighed over 40,000 pounds.
Finally…. a half acre empty lot ready for development and the Kemper Castle finds a new home in Texas.
Yesterday, Preservation in Pink posted one of her “Preservation Pop Quiz” posts that featured some very decorative 3D brickwork.  (If you know anything about 3D brickwork, you might want to pop over there and help us all out – we’re having a hard time identifying the term used to describe making 3D cornice work with bricks.) 
While musing about how I would describe that brickwork, I realized it reminded me of the 3D brickwork often seen on Tudor chimneys.  The Tudor architectural style was a type of medieval architecture occurring during the Tudor period in England (late 1400’s to right around 1600).  
Most of us have some image we conjure up when we hear “Tudor style”, and for me it is definitely the gorgeous Tudor chimneys.  They really are marvels of human imagination, design, and engineering.  I fell in love with them when I first saw them, and even though my dream house is an Arts & Crafts bungalow – I want a Tudor chimney.  
Tudor chimneys on an Arts & Crafts bungalow…. I’m not sure I could convince my husband to give it a try.

If you are like me, you’ve probably often extended your musings over historic architecture to the gardens that were designed, planted, and cultivated to compliment that architecture and found yourself wondering just what the gardens of 100 years ago looked like.  If we’ve abandoned brick and stone in favor of vinyl facades, turned away from plaster in favor of drywall, install composite woods instead of solid woods – how have our gardens changed?

Were tulips, daffodils, azaleas, bluebells, spring lillies, and cosmos the blossoming colors that heralded spring 100 years ago as they typically do in today’s gardens?

Were asters, sage, sunflowers, mums, crocus, witch hazel, fall lillies, and sedum as much a fall favorite for the gardens of 100 years ago as they are for today’s gardens?

Now you can answer those questions, with a very special sneak peek at some Lancaster gardens from 100 years ago.  The Fivepoints Neighborhood Association of Old Town, Lancaster has developed a walking tour that showcases 15 private gardens in downtown Lancaster City’s historic Old Town neighborhoods.  The tour will view vegetation planted over 100 years ago – including ponds, fountains, swimming pool, intimate courtyards, elegant gardens, and great outdoor vignettes for dining and entertaining. The interior spaces of four of the homes will also be open for the tour.

Beyond the Garden Gate
Sunday 17 June 2012
Noon to 5 p.m.
Rain or Shine

The garden tour starts at 51 S. Duke St. (Stevens and Lee), where visits can view photographs chronicling an Old Town renovation. The following sites will also be open for the tour:

216 Old Trinity Place

213 Old Trinity Place

120 E. Vine St.

145 E. Vine St. (second floor apartment)

46 S. Lime St.

137 S. Duke St.

139 S. Duke St.

330 Church St.

121 S. Duke St.

117 S. Duke St.

109 S. Duke St.

107 S. Duke St.

114 John Hoff Place

33 Washington St.

122 S. Duke St.

Cost of advanced tickets is $10, or $9 for two or more. Tickets may be purchased the day of the tour at the cost of $10 each. The following businesses will be selling tickets until 6/16/12: Chestnut House, Festoon, Tellus360, Lancaster Art and Glass Works, and David the Goldsmith. Look for us on First Friday in front of Tellus326 and the Ware Center. Email me for more information.

Proceeds from the tour will be used to promote Lancaster’s Historic District and maintain and further develop public areas of The Neighborhoods of Old Town Lancaster. Currently, the Neighborhood Association with the help of resident volunteers, maintains 24 curbside flower planters, and landscaped public areas. Two passive neighborhood parks (Case Commons at E. Vine and Church St., and Church Pointe Park at Farnum and Church St.) were designed, built and are maintained by resident volunteers of the neighborhood. Visitors are encouraged to view these two public green spaces.

The Association has also developed and published an Historical/Architectural Walking Tour Guide of the neighborhoods. This booklet will be available to the public free of charge.

Tour participants are encouraged to spend Fathers Day afternoon in downtown Lancaster and enjoy brunch or dinner at the many nearby restaurants. After enjoying the tour you can take your ticket to Annie Bailey’s Pub and receive a 20% discount on food items.

Is there anything more iconic to early American life than wagons?  

Perhaps.  And it just might be the Gruber Wagon Works in Bern Township, Berks County.  
Most of us are aware of just how important wagons and wheels were to early American life.  Wagons carried travelers and cargo up and down the East Coast on a network of dirt roads…. They were loaded with kids and kettles rolled over wide open spaces on the road to the wild West….  They were loaded with people to be carted around towns in the early form of modern buses….  Carts toted plants and produce around farms and supplies and weaponry around battlefields…. Really, there wasn’t much end to the uses of wagons and wheels – you can read more about the importance of wagons here and here if you are still unconvinced.
But before you could use a cart or a wagon, it had to be made….and made with a sturdy set of wheels. Which is where Gruber Wagon Works comes in – built in the 1800’s it is one of our nation’s oldest surviving examples of rural manufacturing.  It now stands as an iconic representation of the roots of manufacturing in our country.
And it’s right here in our back yard.  Here’s a round up of resources where you can learn more about this “hidden gem” of history and hopefully you’ll go take a gander at this preservation jewel.


“Gruber Wagon Works” by Berks County Time Train
This short little one minute video is a great overview and introduction to what the Gruber Wagon Works did and the history it represents, as well as the process of moving the Gruber Wagon Works from its original location when Blue Marsh lake was created to its current location at the Heritage Center.  (While you’re there, you can enjoy the other Berks County Time Train videos about history.)

The Berks County Heritage Center

The Berks County Heritage Center is where Gruber Wagon Works was moved to when Blue Marsh Lake was built in the 70’s.  The Center also houses the C. Howard Hiester Canal Center, Wertz’s Covered Bridge, Melcher’s Grist Mill, Deppen Cemetery, Bicentennial Eagle Memorial, Police & Veteran’s Memorial, Doctor’s Grover, the Distlefink, and a salad and herb garden.”

 “Gruber Wagon Works Tour” by Furnace Creek Forge 

“My wife and I and several friends visited the Gruber Wagon Works museum on Sunday.Russ, who is one of their tour guides, spent 3.5 hours with us going thru the building.  He conducted a wonderful tour and went into great detail about the Grubers and their trade.  A normal tour doesn’t go that long but it was a slow day and he could spend the time with us.”
“The Gruber Wagon Works is as good as old.  A recently completed $1.1 million project restored the building as close as possible to its original 1882 condition and added a pole barn to display the wagon collection belonging to the Berks County Parks and Recreation Department. The wagon works – a National Historic Landmark – is one of the attractions at the Berks County Heritage Center off Route 183 in Bern Township. It was moved there in 1977 by the Army Corps of Engineers from its original location up the road in Mount Pleasant.”
“The Gruber Wagon Works: The Place Where Time Stood Still” by Carol J. Hunsberger and published by The Society for the Preservation of the Gruber Wagon Works.
The Gruber Wagon Works documents the history of the Gruber family and its small business that operated from 1882 through 1971 in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.  The book details the history of the wagon works, the people involved, and the preserving of the structure.
This 40-minute video focuses on the revolutionary approach used to move the Gruber Wagon Works from its original location when Blue Marsh Lake was built.  Believe it or not, this was the first design-built contract that was ever awarded by the Army Corps of Engineer in a ground-breaking new approach that split apart the design and construction processes of the project.
This book includes photos, a chapter on wgon making in general, and production records of the Gruber Wagon Works.  Collectors of tools and farm implements, as well as those interested in Americana will find an interest in the descriptions of tools and how they were used by the craftsmen of the period.


What do the Department of Energy’s superconductivity and hydrogen programs have in common with a postcard collection at Landis Valley Museum?

Russ Eaton.     

Named Volunteer of the Year in 2011 by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) for his work on the postcard collection at Landis Valley Museum (administered by the PHMC), Russ isn’t really your ordinary man.  And it isn’t just his distinguished white hair that sets him apart from the rest.


Born and raised in Ohio, Russ earned three degrees in Physics and spent over twenty years working for the Department of Energy. During his time as an engineer at the Department of Energy, Russ worked both in regional offices and at their headquarters in D.C. And as it turns out, it would be a good thing he had those three physics degrees…. Russ worked on research in both the former hydrogen program that explored the use of nuclear fissions in electrical energy applications and the development of high-temperature superconducting materials.


In 2003, Russ and his wife moved to Lancaster, PA…

…and a whole new side of Russ began to show.

Facing more free time than his career had ever given him, Russ began volunteering – something he hadn’t really done much of before retirement.  One day, when serendipity was apparently floating extra freely in the air, the Curator at Landis Valley invited volunteer Russ into the museum’s gallery to see the various collections maintained at the museum.  While in the gallery, Russ noticed a very large, and very disorganized, postcard collection.


It was love, of a sort, at first sight…


Or maybe it would technically be second, or even five hundred and seventy-second sight, because as fate would have it, Russ has been collecting postcards since he was a young boy.  Postcards have always held a special appeal for Russ, and he still has the cards he collected as a child because postcards still hold a special appeal for him.

So Russ began the work of cataloging, categorizing, and inventorying the vast postcard collection at Landis Valley (it’s actually one of the museum’s largest and most sophisticated collections).  It’s not necessarily easy work, despite the comfortable chair and climate-controlled work space. He’s had to develop a cataloging system for the collection, and then continue to develop that cataloging system as mini-collections within the collection start making themselves apparent over time.

His work often requires research – reaching out to historical organizations and agencies, postcard experts and collectors, tracking down personal histories and information about a sender or recipient, reading up on a particular postcard artist’s style and work, and more.

[sws_blockquote_endquote align=”left” cite=”” quotestyle=”style02″] “It’s not just about the art or the artifact, I find history in these postcards.”[/sws_blockquote_endquote] 

Like the history of the Ferman family that Russ stumbled across as he amassed a set of postcard correspondences between the Ferman family members, particularly from one of the brothers who served in the Navy.  Researching this brother, Russ discovered he could match the exact Naval cruises he made by cross-referencing the cities the cards were mailed from.

Or the set of cards mailed between a woman named Gussie Palmer and a man only known as “Carl” who courted Gussie quite humorously in a postcard romance.  This particular set of cards has stumped Russ – he’s been completely unable to identify who “Carl” is, or even where he’s from.

Russ sees postcards that range from the type of “real photo” postcards that Nettie Mae Landis liked to create and receive, the various postcards featuring the Dionne Quintuplets, to artist-signed postcards by local Samuel Schmucker – who’s cards can demand a price as high as $400+ each.

But the strangest category of postcards Russ has seen yet are the postcards that have pictures of lynchings on the front of them.  When I speculated that perhaps that wasn’t any less morbid than the gruesome pictures regularly printed in newspapers, Russ astutely pointed out, “But they wrote ordinary things on the back! So you’d buy a postcard with four dead guys hanging from a tree to say ‘I’ll see you later this week’!”

When he put it that way….. yeah, I guess I have to admit that’s a little weird.

The postcard collection isn’t the only work Russ has done at Landis Valley, but his citation from the PHMC for his volunteer work is specifically for his work organizing and preserving the valuable Landis Family correspondences, as well as the bigger hobby collection Nettie Mae collected from people across the nation and around the world that she exchanged postcards with.  The PHMC resolution issued to Russ notes, “Bringing knowledge of the history of postcards to this work, he identified many cards of historic and artistic importance”.

So why does he do it?


“I have a great reverence for things that are old and worthwhile,” he says simply.


Our first “hidden gem” in our backyard for May’s National Historic Preservation Month is Olde Mill Lighting – and we were lucky enough to score an inside peek at their handcrafted smithery process.
Located on an 18th century miller’s plantation on Strasburg Pike, Olde Mill Lighting is part of a family of home enhancement shoppes that resides in a bank barn and stone farmhouse restored by founding patriarch Jerry. Jerry and his wife are now retired, but the family business carries on with daughter Tina now managing the operations. 
Relying on the expertise and craftsmanship of their tinsmith, Olde Mill Lighting offers a wide range of both inventory and custom order brass indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures in a variety of finish color treatments. Their fixtures are designed and crafted right here in Lancaster County, though they do order their hand-blown reproduction glass from Germany when an exact replication of 200-year-old traditionally hand-blown glass is needed. 
Exacting and expert recreations of historical pieces is so much their specialty that Olde Mill Lighting has even helped set the stage for Hollywood movies. Their work can be seen in the lanterns on the ships of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies, where authenticity was so important that no electrical lighting was used at all. They also provided all the period pieces for the indoor and outdoor fixtures for the entire village setting of the HBO mini-series chronicling the life and political contributions of one of our Founding Fathers in John Adams. 
“We were recently contacted about reproducing a huge period light from the White House for an Abe Lincoln movie currently being made, but we just couldn’t do it as much as we wanted to – it was just too big,” said lighting specialist Joan. 
But lighting isn’t the only thing this family founded, owned, and operated local business offers. “I wish more people realized the variety of things Olde Millhouse Shoppes can offer them,” says daughter Tina. “We not only have hand-crafted indoor and outdoor lighting, we also have period furniture, decorations, gifts, candles, boutique items, and the most recent addition of our floral department.” 
Visit their website at for more information.
One of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s programs to work towards their goal of “providing leadership, education, advocacy, and resources to save America’s diverse historic places” is the proclamation of May as National Preservation Month.
As part of this program, the NTHP offers up a proclamation template that local governors and mayors can use to officially proclaim May as National Preservation Month (go ahead, you can steal it – the most creative people and the smartest entrepreneurs do).  
Now, we haven’t ever been officially elected to any public office position (it’s okay, we didn’t want to hold office anyway, we are just much too busy saving our built history), but we’re going to go ahead and take a few liberties and proclaim May as National Preservation Month anyway.

Heed our call to action and spread the word – May is National Preservation Month!  And we’ll be recognizing National Preservation Month all throughout May on our Facebook and blog with features on the “hidden gems” of historical preservation that we want to share with you – people, places, resources, and more from Lancaster and surrounding areas that you may not have met before.  
Be sure to like us on Facebook and subscribe to our blog and sign up for our monthly newsletter so you don’t miss out on anything.

In the summer of 2011, the tower at Independence Hall was bared to the bones for the first time since it was added in 1828.  In a restoration project for the National Park Service (NPS), contractors bared the face level of the tower down to the structural framing.  The NPS has a detailed write-up of the project, along with pictures, videos, and step-by-step pictorial guides of the process.


Architecture of Democracy 

by Allan Greenberg

Wrapping up our discussion on the founding of our country, we thought we recommend this book on the founding architecture of our country.  You can read more information about author Allan Greenberg at his website, a detailed article on Allan Greenberg and this book that ran in a 2007 issue on Traditional Building, and the book can be purchased at multiple places online but we suggest ordering from our favorite locally owned and operated brick-and-mortar bookstore, Aaron’s Books.

Since I put last month’s e-newsletter to bed (obligatory you can sign up here) yesterday morning (hey, that e-newsletter is one wild party animal on the weekends), I’ve started researching this month’s snail-mail newsletter (another obligatory you can sign up for that one here).  We’re delving into the history at Independence National Park in Philadelphia since it’s fresh on our minds from our recently completed project at the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial.

Independence National Historic Park

The park captures quite well the beauty, freedom, wide open spaces, breathing room found in our country.

In my reading about the history of the park and its founding, I discovered that in the early 1900’s when the park was first proposed, the architects decided that the actual setting of Independence Hall wasn’t good enough and set about creating what they determined to be a “fitting setting” by clearing the half-block between Chestnut Street and Ludlow Street in front of the Hall.
So what’s so terribly notable about making it better when we preserve it?  Don’t we do that all the time?  It’s nothing new….
And that is the very point that struck me.  We do it all the time.  We set out to preserve a piece of our history, and along the way we make changes and judgment calls based on our aesthetic preferences.  We don’t always preserve the way something actually looked.  Sometimes what we are actually preserving is our own nostalgic idea of what it would have, should have, could have looked like.
In the case of Independence Hall, early proponents of its preservation recognized that the architecture that surrounded the traditional brick building stood in stark contrast to the iconic structure, what it represented, and what the public’s expectations were regarding its preservation.  So they tore them all down to “beautify” the area and set a proper stage for the feeling they wanted to create.
If we aren’t preserving the way it actually was, is it still historical preservation?  Or is it revisionist history?  What if we we preserve the way the building actually was originally, but disregard what it became over the years? And then I wondered…..if simply expanding historical preservation to include the experiences and perspectives of all the people who lived it (i.e., minority groups like African-Americans, Polish-Americans, and women) is often met with cries of “revisionist history!”, why wouldn’t an actual revision of history be met with such resistance? Is it so important to us to maintain the “reality” of history we have formed in our culture’s collective mind’s eye that we are willing to overlook inaccuracies in one area while we actively seek to create inaccuracies in another?  
And perhaps most importantly, what are we losing in our attempts to hold on?  
With the creation of a “fitting setting” for Independence Hall, we may have quite adeptly captured the “historical context and character” of the nearly 250-year-old hall that helped give birth to our nation – and there isn’t much of an argument against this, the awe that even mere pictures of the Hall inspire is tremendous something that is without doubt worth every attempt to hold onto.
But what did we lose?  When we cleared away the surrounding “buildings whose diversity is only surpassed by their ugliness” (as an architect noted in the early 1900’s) it is possible we lost a golden opportunity to  showcase the very point of our nation – embracing and valuing diversity without holding any single one as “higher”, “better”, “more desirable” than another?