Preservation Stories for the Holiday Season--Part II

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

I really enjoy living in a small town during the holiday season. Twenty years ago this month as I first drove through the town I now call home I saw old houses strung with Christmas lights and frayed decorations hanging from electric poles lining the main thoroughfare.  I knew right away this would be a good place for me to settle. Now here I am twenty years later and I still enjoy driving or walking through the town to look at the decorations and there really haven’t been many changes. Having worked in an area for many years where the landscape seemed to change from day to day; I consider living in a town where change is slow to be a good thing.

Holiday Season--photo from farm3.staticflickr.com

Holiday Season--photo from farm3.staticflickr.com

Unusual Preservation Stories

While sitting here listening to holiday music and reading old house preservation stories, I came across a couple that could be called slightly out of the ordinary. I don’t often associate preservation with the glamor of Miami Beach, but a 1920s’ home near South Beach was spared from demolition and is now open as a Bistro. The old house is one of four surviving homes built of coral rock in Miami Beach and was once the winter home of a local pioneer. Henri Levy built the home while doing development in the area, and his 84-year-old daughter can still remember having tea parties in the yard as a young child. The home survived a fire that caused extensive damage and is now enjoying life as a seafood restaurant.

Southwest Texas Preservation

Old House Holidays--photo from farm3.staticflickr.com

Old House Holidays--photo from farm3.staticflickr.com

Hidalgo County, Texas, is about as far southwest as you can go in Texas without crossing the border. Two historic homesteads were recently discovered on a ranch, and they seem to be all that’s left of a small community that once existed at the location. One of the old houses is on county records that go back to 1805 and the homes are estimated to date to the 1790s. I would think that’s pretty old for homes in that part of Texas. The gentleman who purchased the ranch to save the homes is in the process of restoring them using materials that would have been used during their construction. The materials include Mesquite doors that can be pretty tough to find at your local home improvement store.

Historic New Bedford Home; It Could be Yours for a Dollar

I haven’t read about New Bedford, Massachusetts, in years, and now I’m surprised to read stories about it two weeks in a row. I wrote about an old house being saved in New Bedford last week, and this week there’s a story about an old Gothic home that can be purchased for a dollar as long as you move it. It belongs to a church and they need a bigger parking lot.