Old House Intrigue

By: Conrad Neuf , Contributing Writer
In: Old Houses, Old House Musings, Green Renovations, In The News, Old House History

I have written several times about the Gamble House in Cincinnati and the efforts being made to save it. The old house was owned by the Gamble family of Proctor and Gamble fame, and is now owned by a conservation/preservation group of which Mrs. Gamble is a board member, and they are doing their best to have the old house demolished. A group of old house lovers concerned with losing the historically significant home is doing their best to keep it from being torn down. I happened to see that the judge residing over the case toured the home recently along with city building officials, and while the home needs a lot of work, the building officials feel that it is structurally sound. It looks like the judge will be making a decision fairly soon.

Preservation or Demolition?

It turns out I have a somewhat similar story right in my own backyard. On the grounds of the National Zoo is an old house–with possible historical significance–that a group is trying to save. It appears that the Zoo would prefer to have it simply fall down. What makes the story really interesting is that the Zoo is a part of the Smithsonian Institution, so you would think if there was ever an organization interested in preserving the past, it would be them. The article is interesting reading, even though only one side of the story is presented. The house is on property that the Zoo purchased in 1889 and may have a Quaker and an African American cemetery on the property. The house may have slave quarters in the basement.

The group working to save the old house feels that the home is historic, as it shows the part slavery played in the history of the area and the country. I won’t take sides as I don’t know the whole story, but it does sound like the old house is historic. I used to love going to the National Zoo when I lived a little closer to DC, and if it’s the same house I remember seeing on my trips, it’s pretty large and impressive. I always wondered what the story was behind it, as it just sat there empty and unattended with a large fence around it. The article becomes even more interesting when the preservation group claims that the money was appropriated during the 1990s to start restoration work on the home, but the money went elsewhere.

Eco-Friendly Labels

I wrote a blog post recently about a company in Portland, Oregon, that sells eco-friendly, FSC-rated lumber, and I got a few really good comments about the use of the term “green” to describe eco-friendly products. Matt Grocoff of Greenovation.TV, OldHouseWeb.com’s newest contributing writer, recently did a video of a trip to Home Depot to explain what to look for when searching for eco-friendly products. The video is both informative and entertaining.