Background:

Book Review: Abbott Lowell Cummings’ “Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay, 1625-1725″

Published in 1979, The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay, 1625-1725 was a giant contribution to the study of vernacular architecture, and it remains a foundational reference work for scholars of colonial architecture in Massachusetts and beyond. Focusing on the “first period” of settlement, from roughly 1620-1720, Cummings’ excellent work is an encyclopedic and systematic evaluation of Massachusetts Bay’s seventeenth-century houses, especially in Suffolk, Essex, and Middlesex counties in Massachusetts.  Well-written, painstakingly researched, crisply-organized, and full of excellent line drawings and photographs, Cummings work is a must-have for the preservationist’s library. Read more…

“Bleak Hill” Estate to be Auctioned in King George, VA

In less than a month, the impressive “Bleak Hill” Estate, in King George, Virginia, will be auctioned.  Original portions of the house were built in the 1790s by historically renowned architect, Dr. William Thornton — the designer of the U.S. Capitol building.  The estate offers an incredible panoramic view, so it’s not surprising that it’s reported to have been used as a Union Army headquarters during the Civil War.  What is a little ironic, however, is that the house is said to be the architectural “sister” of the historic “Sully Plantation,” which was built by the uncle of Robert E. Lee — the legendary Confederate general. Read more…

“Lottery Hill Farm,” Michael J. Fox’s former Federal-Style House in Woodstock, VT, Now Offered for Sale

If you’ve never been to Woodstock, Vermont, it’s one of those beautiful New England villages that is a big tourist spot because it is widely-heralded as “quintessential” New England.   It has an old town green with lots of classical-revival houses surrounding it.  There are ordinances to protect nice views of the village and its surroundings.  The Rockefellers helped preserve the town in the early 20th-century, and further enhanced its growing reputation as a place for well-to-do people to own 2nd homes.  Even the Budweiser Clydesdales Read more…

“The Henry Munroe House” in Wesport, CT, Dodges Demolition — But Still Needs Buyer

This house is significant enough that it’s listed on the Connecticut Freedom Trail, which designates “sites that embody the struggle toward freedom and human dignity” and “celebrates the accomplishments of the state’s African American community.”  So why is this particular property worthy of recognition?  The designation honors Henry and Lyzette Munroe, a black farmer & his wife who built the house in 1806 — during a time when race slavery still existed in Connecticut.  And that’s not a typo.  Many people don’t realize that slavery existed in northern states (though on a much smaller scale than the South) well into the 1800s — and the census of 1800 still counted 951 slaves in Connecticut.  Thus, the Munroes were bravely making their way in a world where the odds were stacked against them, building this house and creating a family farm some 55 years before the U.S. Civil War ended American slavery. Read more…

Historic Style Spotlight: The Craftsman Bungalow

When it comes to admiring old houses, I tend to favor rustic, 200-year old post & beam structures.  Yet some of my favorite historic houses are much more modern:  Craftsman-style bungalows.  This article will highlight the history & characteristics of this beautiful architectural style. Read more…

My Alma Mater, Bowling Green State University, Will Soon Raze This Historic “Sears” House

Really, BGSU?

The school where I earned my B.A. in History is about to needlessly knock down a very cool building that is historically significant.   Their stated purpose is to build a new student health center.  I understand that  universities need to expand, but I also believe there would be several reasonable alternatives to razing a one-of-a-kind historic building.  It bums me out enough when individuals knock down historic buildings, but when a (supposedly) enlightened institution like a college fails to demonstrate vision & wisdom, it’s kinda depressing.   And so far, the university has been unswayed by the uproar and protests to save the building.  And now, demolition is scheduled for August 7th! Read more…

Gem Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is Threatened with Demolition (AZ)

We are not in the historic-preservation business. That’s not our forte.

–Developer John Hoffman.

It’s like throwing a Picasso in the fire.

–Alison King, a historic-preservation activist and founder of Modern Phoenix.

In a nutshell:   A development group (called 8081 Meridian) recently bought the David Wright House (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for his son) in Phoenix, AZ.  Their plan was to cut the property’s lot in half — to demolish the Wright House — in order to Read more…

Museum-Caliber “Abner Richmond Tavern” offered in Westford, CT (51 pics!)

I rarely use the term, “museum-caliber” when describing historic properties.  This house is museum-caliber. In my mind, museum-caliber means several things: exceptional architecture, a large amount original (or early) details, accurate historical information, and perhaps most importantly, the house must feature a lot of early period furniture & decoration to make the house “feel” the part.  That’s what gives it that “museum” feeling — like you’re suddenly immersed in daily life, say, 200 years ago.  Well, the “Abner Richmond Tavern” in Westford Village, Connecticut, is “museum caliber.” Read more…

McDonald’s + Historic Preservationists= Circa 1795 Georgian-style Burger Joint (UPDATE)

So, this really exists.  An 18th century farmhouse (dating to 1795) that is now a McDonald’s restaurant on Long Island in NY. Read more…

Historic Log Cabin in Historic Gettysburg — The Congressman Thaddeus Stevens Cabin ($159,000)

This property just drips with historical significance!   Now offered for sale (at just $159,000!) is a log cabin that was constructed in 1790 — just 7 years after the American Revolution.   So it has withstood the test of time and witnessed a lot of history — including, of course, the famous Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 (this reminds me of my article about the Gettysburg farmhouse that was used as a hospital during the battle).  But what makes this property even more remarkable is that Thaddeus Stevens once lived here.  Who was Thaddeus Stevens, you ask? Read more…