HPA has invited a group of partners and friends to be our guest bloggers during Preservation Month. We have asked them to write on various topics surrounding the theme “Why Preservation Matters in Hartford” based on the web articles Six Reasons to Save Old Buildings and What’s ‘Historic’- and Who Says? Nine Practical Reasons to Save Old Building.
I love old buildings! Old buildings provide connections to a simpler more gracious past. They evoke a feeling of individuality lost in today’s cookie cutter world. Historic houses help to define a community, create a sense of history and permanence, and contribute to community pride.
There are so many emotional and economic reasons to preserve old homes and structures:
Emotionally: Preservation attaches people to their community, provides a sense of place and past, encourages a connection to neighbors. Historic buildings are much more than bricks and sticks and mortar – they are our past, a physical picture of our evolution, and the soul of our collective developmental growth. The workmanship that went into building even the most modest of antique homes is already a lost art. We cannot afford to have historic amnesia – lest we forget what it’s like to have pride in our workmanship or care about how we cohesively create community. For most of us, historic buildings create an emotional bond to a unique place.
Economically: Historic buildings are often much cheaper to rehabilitate than building new. Modern construction is typically based on a premise of obsolescence, replaceable by the next generation in 25 to 30 years. Historic buildings were meant to last. Property values are higher and remain more stable in historic districts. Preserving a building is the ultimate in recycling, eliminating the need for buying new materials, reducing landfill waste and saving energy required to manufacture, transport and assemble materials.
That said, for me it is mostly ascetics. I love the way well-crafted older homes look and make me feel: the smell and the luster of old wood, the intricacies of patterns, the nooks and niches to explore, and the thought of carvers and craftsmen leaving their marks.
As a young girl, I lived in an old house. At the time I didn’t think too much about architecture or how sad it would make me feel if something happened to it, but I loved its charms and I like the fact that it had a history. Several years after my family bought a newer home a short distance away, a family bought the old house and “renovated” it. It was then that I discovered my passion for preservation.
Guest blogger Lynn Ferrari was a founding member of the Hartford Preservation Alliance She is a co-founder of Hartford History Today, moderator of the Old Hartford facebook group and President of the Coalition to Strengthen the Sheldon/Charter Oak Neighborhood (CSS/CON) NRZ.