Volunteer Vacation at Vintage Virginia Gas Station

AiP is joining the modern preservation movement! We’ve just added a project at the Edge Hill Service Station in Gloucester, Virginia, to our volunteer vacation schedule. Join us in restoring one of Virginia’s original Texaco stations –  work begins in May 2011.

Fairfield Foundation Adventures in Preservation Edge Hill Service Station

David Brown and Thane Harpole, co-directors of the Fairfield Foundation, want you to help them restore the Edge Hill Service Station

Our project partner, the Fairfield Foundation, is better known for its archaeological work related to Virginia’s early colonial history, but they’ve recently seen the light (more later on this) and realized that the Middle Peninsula’s more recent architectural heritage is at risk too.

They began a successful campaign to purchase the 1930 Edge Hill Service Station and are now ready for restoration to begin. Work will involve restoring the station’s many windows and developing a lighting plan that will allow the station to be brightly lit at night but use only a fraction of the energy historically used to do so. (Get it now?)

If you’re one of the many folks out there interested in industrial heritage, roadside architecture, or learning how to restore historic windows, you’ll love working on this project. Learn more!

An Award for Our Preservation Partner!

Last week Professor Bob Swenson of the SIUC School of Architecture returned to his office to find a most welcome bit of news: SIUC’s  Preservation Summer Program had been selected to receive the 2010 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Education from Landmarks Illinois. The program was also selected as Project of the Year.

Preservation Work at 2910 Sycamore Street, Cairo, IllinoisPreservation Summer is an upper-level historic preservation field study though which architecture and history students work on interdisciplinary projects in Southern Illinois, conducting research and carrying out preservation work.

Congratulations go out to Prof. Swenson and Dr. Rachel Malcolm-Ensor, of the History Department, who worked extremely hard to bring the program to fruition and continue it each year.  We are proud to say we were part of the project! Adventures in Preservation  partnered with Preservation Summer for several years, collaborating on the hands-on preservation portion of the course.

In 2007 the project site was Jonesboro, Illinois. History students conducted oral history interviews and architecture students repaired the porch of the Queen Anne-style Kornthal Parsonage. In 2008 and 2009, the focus was on shotgun-style houses in the Cairo, Illinois National Historic District. The first year was devoted to survey and planning. The second year, students, working with AiP volunteers, accomplished a significant amount of restoration work at 2910 Sycamore Street.

The award will be presented at the 2010 awards ceremony on Saturday, October 23, at The Chicago Club. The ceremony is the concluding event of the Traditional Building Conference being held October 20-23 at Chicago’s Navy Pier.

We’re Having a Contest!

Subscribe to AiP’s newsletter, Destination: Preservation, and have a chance to win a Built Fliptop camera case from our friends at Peace Frogs Travel/Outfitters .

Built Fliptop camera case

This Built Fliptop camera case could be yours!

Destination: Preservation will keep you informed about our preservation-based volunteer vacations, what’s happening in the field of historic preservation, and ways you can use the power of preservation to create a better world.

Subscribe by September 30 to be eligible for the drawing. Be sure to include your mailing information so if you’re the winner, we can mail you your prize!

Traveling Through Time

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, New York

Photo by Steve Cadman

 My recent trip to New York City’s Tenement Museum underscored how historic buildings and innovative museum programming really make time travel possible. 

The museum is a story of incredible luck and happenstance. In 1998, museum co-founders Ruth Abram and Anita Jacobson were looking for a place to tell the immigrants’ story in New York’s Lower East Side. Considering the storefront at 97 Orchard Street, Jacobsen went to see the bathrooms and instead saw a time capsule. 

Built in 1863 by Lukas Glockner, the building’s 20 apartments had not been occupied since 1935. The central wooden staircase, which had an estimated 7,000 residents go up and down its narrow steps, stopped time. New buildings codes required fireproof stairways, and given the economy of the time, the landlord did not want to incur the expense of replacing the stairs. The rent from the storefront and basement  generated sufficient income for the owner’s needs; the rest of the building was never updated and thus never rented. 

Wallpaper Layers, upper floors

Tenement Museum Photo courtesy of David Wallace

 When I entered the building on my guided tour,  it was all I could do to keep my jaw from dropping. In the dim light, I could see burlap-covered walls, paint peeling from pressed tin ceilings, and old wiring. Upstairs in the apartments, I could see the layers of paint, wallpaper and floor covering that reflected changing tastes of residents through the years.  The stories were there for the telling. 

The museum staff and curators have carefully researched, restored and opened six apartments. Each tells the story of one of families that occupied it. The families are from different countries, cultures and time periods. 

The next time you find yourself in New York I recommend you make time for a visit. If you can’t get there, take a virtual tour of the museum and be amazed.