Archive | Historic Preservation RSS feed for this section

Imitation the sincerest form of flattery?

11 Nov

Hey, New York Times, maybe you should hire me to write for you since I came up with “Townhouse Turnaround” five years ago — to mean the same thing!

Photo of Townhouse Turnaround article in NYTimes Nov 10 2013

Hey, where are my royalties?

PS — to anyone thinking that $10 – $40 million is kind of steep for a house, please note that you can purchase quite lovely Victorian homes in various stages of historic renovation for $100,000 – $300,000 in lovely Springfield, Massachusetts. 2 hour drive to Brooklyn, 2.5 hour drive to Manhattan, 1.5 hour drive to Boston, 45 minutes to the Berkshires. And lots of great people right here in good old Springfield.

Archiving photos

10 Nov

My latest project is going through about 50 years of family photos and getting them labeled and into albums. My dear mother (God rest her soul) was an inveterate shutterbug and triple-print advocate. Putting them in some sort of order in albums was always on her to do list. I inherited the photos and the to do list about 15 years ago, and figured this was about the time to get started on the project.

Going through thousands of photos.

Going through thousands of photos.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been grabbing an hour here and there to go through all the envelopes, put the duplicates (and triplicates and beyond) in one pile, and figure out whether it’s disrespectful to the memory of the people in the photos to get rid of some of them. I’ve decided it’s okay to throw out some of these pictures. My mom was taking photos as if she were using a digital camera or were a member of the paparazzi (of course she thought her family was full of special snowflakes, because that’s what all wonderful and loving mothers think!). So there are minute by minute shots of Christmas present opening, for example, and I don’t feel compelled to keep every single one (never mind the fact that she took advantage of “triple prints” at every opportunity, so there are three copies of the same photo of present opening…)

And now I’m working on grouping photos by decade, and then taking the ones I’ll keep and putting them in albums with labels (while I still remember who most of the people are….). It’s so much fun to look at these old photos and remember the happy days they represent. Kind of bittersweet that almost everyone in them is dead…. but really the fun is winning out. Lots of dress up days, lots of funny hats on elderly relatives, lots of great 20th century technology and decor in the background. It’s good stuff.

Downtown Springfield through Hollywood’s eyes in early 1970’s

14 Jun

The movie “The Reincarnation of Peter Proud” was filmed in and around Springfield in the early 1970’s. This was no “Citizen Kane”, but it’s cool to see your city up on the big screen. Someone did a mashup of the scenes of Downtown Springfield and posted it on YouTube — I found this on Tommy Devine’s Valleyist blog:

Springfield in Peter Proud

 

Last batch of paving and sidewalk photos

14 Jun

These are the last of the photos of the street improvements from the 1970’s that I got from the Nelson family, the people who owned 29 (where I now live) and 26 (building demolished, current site of condominiums built in 1982 as an in-fill project) Mattoon Street.

light posts being installed -- I think

light posts being installed — I think

hole being filled with dirt
hole being filled with dirt

herringbone sidewalk installation
herringbone sidewalk installation

deep street prep
deep street prep

closer view of street work
closer view of street work

bricks on pallets to go on sidewalk
bricks on pallets to go on sidewalk

27 and 29 Mattoon crater eek
27 and 29 Mattoon crater eek

More street improvements early 1970’s

14 Jun

In the early 19070’s a group of people from greater Springfield got together to try to preserve the historic Victorian townhouses on Mattoon Street. The street was suffering badly from blight and fires and was a sketchy street filled with boarding houses (where you could rent space by the hour), prostitutes and drugs. Many homes which were built in the late 1870’s to house a single family housed dozens of unrelated people in the 1970’s.

The Quadrangle-Mattoon Historic District was formed in 1971. It was the city’s first Historic District. Without the creation of that historic district and the hard work of several considered private citizens, along with generous government funds to enable capital improvements, the street would not be the gem that it is today. Things like this don’t happen automatically or by chance. It takes planning and public-private partnerships and caring property owners and residents.

paving with street lamps installed

paving with street lamps installed

Park to be bricked during festival
Park to be bricked during festival

more paving
more paving

more paving street
more paving street

more of sidewalk work
more of sidewalk work

mattoon street paving project
mattoon street paving project

Mattoon street paving project showing burnt out building and Chestnut Tower construction
Mattoon street paving project showing burnt out building and Chestnut Tower construction

Mattoon street in process of paving before sidewalks re-done after trees planted
Mattoon street in process of paving before sidewalks re-done after trees planted

mattoon street herringbone sidewalk being installed 197?
mattoon street herringbone sidewalk being installed 197?

Mattoon street being paved
Mattoon street being paved