Some thoughts from the Traditional Building Conference:
-Existing buildings are inherently green (embodied energy) tearing down to make a new green building uses more energy than it saves
-Changes made to “modernize” a building have contributed to the perception of the poor energy performance
-An important part of green building should be the materials should both be durable and repairable – many of the new green building products are durable but are they repairable?
-The greenest building is one that already exists – the restoration process involves less carbon emissions than new construction
-Thinking globally while acting locally also helps create local jobs and builds a sustainable local economy

We exhibited at the 2009 Old House Fair sponsored by The Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia this weekend – this is the last of our home shows for the spring season. It is always affirming to meet so many people dedicated to caring for their older buildings.

As promised some energy conservation tips from the Traditional Building Show are below – check back every week for more knowledge gathered from the seminars.

1. Do an energy audit – contact your electrical company for information.
2. Change your light bulbs to either CFL or LED bulbs.
3. Install a Programmable Thermostat.
4. Unplug electronics when not in use – 40% of electricity is used when electronics are not in use.
5. Retrofit toilets and faucets to save water.
6. Use lighting controls – dimmers and usage.
7. Use ceiling fans to help circulate air both in the warm months and the colder months.
8. Upgrade appliances to the most efficient possible.

Last weekend Chuck, Lois, Jonathan, and Danielle traveled to Boston for the Traditional Building Show. The Traditional Building Exhibition and Conference is sponsored by Restore Media and features a trade show with traditional building products and seminars featuring traditional building topics (both theory and practical). The focus of most of this spring’s seminars where the green building movement within preservation – more posts about that later.
Chuck and Danielle presented ‘Traditional Building Methods vs. Modern Approaches’ on Saturday, March 14th. We have many seminars we have developed for various preservation groups – soon we will have a listing with description posted on our web site.
These pictures (above) where taken at the Boston Commons on our only adventure outside of the convention center (who ever designed the convention center, which is a combination of a mall, offices, restaurants, hotels, and the actual convention space, knew how to keep people entertained within the confines of the area). We did not realize celebrating for St. Patrick’s Day was beginning over the the weekend – we had a hard time finding a restaurant with room. We did walk the Freedom Trail to Paul Revere’s house and found a little Italian restaurant to eat in.
Once we have time to digest the various seminars we attended we will post summaries on our blog to share the knowledge we have acquired.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we exhibited at the Historic Home Show at York. As part of the Historic Home section of the Mid-Atlantic Garden Show at the York Expo Center. We enjoyed connecting with people that are interested in maintaining and restoring their vintage properties. The availability of regional “historic” home shows helps building owners find many resources for their projects under one roof. We try to list as many as we can on the events page on our website – any information you can pass on is much appreciated.

Wrecker or Builder
I watched them tearing a building down
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a ho-heave-ho and a lusty yell,
They swung a beam and a sidewall fell.
I asked the foreman, ” are these men skilled,
As the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He gave a laugh and said, “No, indeed;
Just common labor is all I need.
I can easily wreck in a day or two
What builder have taken a year to do.”
And I thought to myself as I went my way,
Which of these two roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care
Measuring life by the rule and square?
Am I shaping my deeds by a well-made plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?

Clarence E. Allerton, Local Union 439, Orange, N.J.

Greetings 2009

This new year is already picking up the pace from the relaxing holiday season. Next Friday, January 16, 2009 is the opening day for the Greater Philadelphia Historic Home Show. Chuck began constructing frames for mirrors to show and sell last month. The hardwoods that were selected for the mirror project are, Cherry, Maple and Flame Birch. The frames are mortise and tenon, a form of joinery dating back to 2400 BC. Jonathan will add the color to finish the fine furniture pieces. The mirrors are our signature item, kind of a large calling card. A hand crafted, easy to carry away from the show piece that people can hang on their wall – reflecting beauty – and be reminded of the kind of service we provide for our friends/clients. The Historic Home Show will provide for us an opportunity to “predict” how the world is affecting those of us who treasure our vintage homes and the built heritage we share as a nation. Preservation is Green. I am optimistic!

Season’s Greetings! This is the time of year when we all take a little extra time to reflect on our family, our world and what life has presented to us in the past year. If you pay attention to the news, most of us are suffering from some form of shell shock or even Post Traumatic Stress. Some of the institutions we all thought were “bullet” proof, turn out to be part of a mass illusion. How did this happen? Each of us share a portion of the responsibility for this. Each of us must resolve to do better in the New Year. I can hear a lone voice in the wilderness, ” I am only one person, what difference can I make?”
First abandon the old way of thinking. Instead of seeking instant – anything, make decisions that will bring long term benefits. Each choice that you make will not be added to the Merry-go-Round of built in obsolescence. This is the perfect time to push for recovery at personal, national and global levels. This “new” direction can be more rewarding in terms of personal life enrichment than the “old” boom was. The new mind set should provide self fulfilling intentions to every aspect of our day to day living.
Moving forward, we must restore ourselves. A book written by Storm Cunningham, “The Restorations Economy” was published in 2005. Danielle wrote about this book in the July 14, 2008 blog. The books focus is in the building industry but the message should be embraced by everyone who sees real opportunity in the -other side- of all the failures of current industry and institutions of the past months.
As we venture into the next phase of “Life” let us all choose to be the pebble that radiates gentle ripples through the collective conscience of our world.
Blessings, Peace and Love

The Hancock House

Historic Restorations recently built the ‘tavern’ door for the 1734 Hancock House for the New Jersey State Park Service. The Hancock House is one of just a few houses left in Southern New Jersey with the date in a decorative pattern on the gable end. Besides the architectural importance the house was the site of the March 20, 1778 massacre by the British troops to punish the local militia (stationed within the Hancock House) for not supporting the British Army when they came for supplies. Everyone within the house was bayoneted – Judge William Hancock died several days after the attack.

On Wednesday, October 28, Jonathan and Danielle attended a energy conservation workshop offered by LIVE Green and Pure Energy. We learned things that can be done within an older building (they used a city row house as the example) to help conserve energy. The importance of insulation and energy efficient appliances to significantly reduce heating and electric bills. We appreciated the physics lesson explaining why replacement windows are not the answer to save energy (beyond the historic value).

LIVE Green is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable city living their website is for more information on their purpose, events, and workshops. Pure Energy is a Lancaster-based energy auditing company their website is for information on their services, training, and energy conservation tools.

On Sunday, October 19, Chuck, Lois, Jonathan, Danielle, and Josh attended the Architectural History Tour of the Northeast Lancaster Township Historic District. The tour was appropriately called “Mansions on Marietta” and highlighted buildings built as the first suburban development in Lancaster County.

The oldest house on the tour was built in 1828 and is Wheatland home of 15th President James Buchanan. The other six homes on the tour (private residences) where built between 1920 and 1939. These houses reminded us of the “old” (at least 100 years old) building on the West Coast.