[rescue] restorations and keyboards

Sheldon T. Hall shel at cmhcsys.com
Tue Feb 3 13:17:12 CST 2004

Phil Stracchino writes ...
> On Tue, Feb 03, 2004 at 10:55:05AM -0500, Sheldon T. Hall wrote:
[ a discourse on the meaning of "reastoration" when it comes to old things]
> I could not help but think of my wife's take on historic preservation of
> old buildings.  (She's studying to become an architect.)
> Basically, you can only have just so many museums. If you locate Ben
> Franklin's house, sure, OK, fine, preserve it just as it was, people
> will come to see it.  But most historic-preservation societies don't
> stop there.  They want every 18th and 19th century building in the state
> preserved forever in its original state, untouchable, pristine, complete
> with no running water, no sewer or other sanitation, no electricity, no
> phone, and a wood-fired oven in the kitchen.  And while that's great for
> keeping Ben Franklin's house as a museum, it's unusable as a
> 21st-century building.  So unless it's something of major historical
> significance like Ben Franklin's house, no-one's prepared to pay the
> cost of maintaining a historic building in a condition in which they
> can't use it, so it doesn't get preserved, and the building is lost.
> My wife figures that instead, what should be done with most old
> buildings is what she calls historic restoration -- where you preserve
> the external appearance of the building, you preserve as much as
> possible of its character and feel and the original construction, but
> you can make changes to the interior so as to bring it up to current
> codes and make it actually usable as a living or working space.  That
> way, the building stays around, because it's not just throwing money
> down a deep dark hole, the restorer is getting a usable building out of
> the deal.

I'm with her.

Historically important and unique things should be restored and preserved
exactly as they were when they became historic, as reminders and as
education.  There's only one Monticello, for example.

Things which are old and interesting, but not unique or particularly
historic, should be subject to a mixture of restoration, preservation, and
updating that befits their significance, location, and importance.


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