I was a little surprised at the number of people I talked to this month who had never heard of Preservation Month and had no idea what preservation was all about. Some of the people who commented on my preservation blog post mentioned the same thing about their coworkers. But after I gave it some thought I realized it did make some sense; Preservation Month is only going to mean something to people who have a love for old houses and buildings and for the part those buildings have played in our history. After all, I didn’t know anything about Pancake Week until I did some research for an article, but I’m sure it’s a really big deal for someone who eats at IHOP a couple of times a week!
I believe one of the good things that comes from celebrating Preservation Month is the opportunity for people who care about preservation to connect–and through their connection, raise a louder voice on preservation issues. I happened to be in Winchester, Virginia, at the end of last week at a place of business just outside the historic district, and all of the old houses on the street had either undergone a restoration or had been kept in great shape over the years. The business was in a 2-story garage that had been built in 1930. The building had been restored and turned into some type of service shop at some point in time; they did a really nice job. The owner wasn’t aware of Preservation Month, but he appreciated the history of his old building and the architecture of the old houses surrounding it. I hope that after our conversation, he will pay a little more attention to preservation issues in Winchester–perhaps even get involved.
The preservation word is being spread this month in just about every part of the country. Preservation events are being held in places such as Indiana where preservation workshops are taking place all month– New Albany, Indiana, is having Pizza and Preservation lectures throughout the month. Minneapolis is having an (Anti) Wrecking Ball gala during which the annual ten most endangered historic Minnesota structures will be announced. Atlanta will be the location of the second annual 5K Rhodes Race, which takes place through historic residential sections of the city.
One of the most interesting events taking place this month is the annual “Great Unveiling” in Elgin, Illinois. The city uses grants to purchase old houses in foreclosure, and restores them during the summer months. May is when the restorations start, and they hope to resell the old houses when they are finished. Not only are the old houses being saved, but the program is helping rebuild areas of the city in need.
This is just a tiny sampling of the many events taking place across the country during Preservation Month, and hopefully they are giving people with an interest in old houses and history a chance to connect.