Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Cool Interlude During the Stifling Heat of July

It really wasn't that long ago - early March 2008. We had about eight inches of the white stuff. I spent most of that day on ladders trying to thaw out a damn downspout that had frozen. Water was filling up in my soffit and then trickling down an interior wall. I love to reminisce about good times.

My house is on the right.

Photo credit - my neighbor Suzanne

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Vitality and Preservation in the Metro Area

The following appeared in the Courier Journal yesterday. It's worth a read.

Vital city needs vital preservation movement, by Steve Wiser.

"There is much to like about Louisville: enjoyable Olmsted parks, attractive riverfront, and quality neighborhoods. By preserving our existing landmarks as well as building new landmarks, Louisville can become an even better place in which to live."

The same is true for New Albany of course.

I've met the author, Steve Wiser, a couple times. He's written several books, including "Louisivlle 2035", which I found to be a good read and a tempting look at our potential future in the metro area. Check out the Louisville Historical League website too. Steve is on the board and assisted in getting a Louisville contingent over to New Albany during recent Preservation Month events.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Preservationist Gathering in Franklin - What New Albany Needs

I took a trip up north Saturday to Franklin, Indiana. It’s a town of about 24,000 just south of Indianapolis. The occasion for the trip was the Preservation Roundup and Idea Exchange sponsored by the Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology (DHPA). About forty preservationist from all over the state gathered to discuss successes and challenges.

I’d never been to Franklin. It was charming. Like many Indiana towns, it has a town square with a city court house in center. It has recently been restored. The details were impressive.
We met at the Artcraft Theatre, which is currently being renovated by the local preservation non-profit Franklin Heritage, Inc. Rob Shilts, Executive Director, was very proud to show off their most recent acquisition. A capital campaign to raise $500,000 to complete restoration is expected to end successfully next week. Franklin Heritage has also purchased, restored and resold seven historic homes.

What did I take away from the visit? New Albany desperately needs a local preservation organization with an emphasis on our vast housing stock. Many structures are at risk and being lost. Thousands of tax dollars are spent to demolish instead of preserving.

I believe that it will take an assertive non-profit to intervene and break the cycle of ambivilance that is perpetuated in New Albany. The Southern Regional office of Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana has had success here in facilitating home restorations, but their fourteen county area of responsibility means they can not focus only on New Albany.

We need focused advocacy, education and bricks and mortar work full-time. If Franklin can do seven homes, we should be able to do fifty seven. I feel strongly enough about this need that I've recently purchased the domain name of Do you like the name Preserve New Albany? Feel free to toss out other suggestions.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fix it - Don't Replace It - Wood on Your Historic Home

To a preservation novice like myself, a split board or rotted wood can be quite an obstacle. But armed with the motivation to learn and preserve, anyone can learn the techniques to maintain their historic homes.

As I alluded to in the previous post, I repair wood first and replace as a last resort. This is the stuff I use – from a company called AbatronLiquidWood® and WoodEpox®.
There are other manufacturers of wood consolidant and filler, which I’m sure work well, but these are the only products I’ve used.

I gained the knowledge of how to use these products by visiting this website HistoricHomeWorks, watching instructional video on the site and purchasing the how to preservation reports Saver Your Wood Windows and Wood-Epoxy Repairs. John Leeke, American Preservationeer, hosts the website and authors these educational materials.

I’ve corresponded with John recently and New Albany may be lucky enough to get a visit from him next May during preservation month.

Application Examples from recent weekends on the job ----

First is a whopper of a nail hole with rot all around it.

I whip out some wood consolidant (LiquidWood®) to apply to the area of a decaying wood.

This stuff penetrates and regenerates the wood. It’s a two part liquid epoxy product – mix equal parts and apply with a brush or pour on the area of need. In one to six hours, the wood is hard as rock and the hole is ready to be filled.

Next I had to address a chunk of missing wood in the crown molding (thanks a lot vinyl siding installers).

This gets filled with WoodEpox®, a two part epoxy. It’s the same concept as the consolidant – combine the two parts in equal volume, mix and apply.
It’s the consistency of play-doh and easy to work with. It also smells like a biscuit when mixed.
The wood epoxy is not your normal wood filler. It’s shrink free and can be used to replace, repair, fill cracks, cast and sculpted into shapes and machined just like wood when it hardens. It has saved my butt many times.

Next was a gapping hole in the trim of a window. It was fixed with my hammer never leaving the tool belt.

Please visit John’s site for more detailed instruction and don’t hesitate to take on that preservation project you want to do.