Saving Old Houses Isn't New

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

Another Beautiful Old House Restoration

Another Beautiful Old House Restoration

I don’t think I will ever get over my fascination with the Internet. I enjoy reading and increasing my knowledge about anything I’m interested in, and the Internet has been the perfect avenue for that. Many times I’ve sat down for what I thought would be five minutes, and the next thing I knew, several hours had passed.

That is how I happened upon these stories about old houses that I found to be intriguing. A young soldier from Denver found himself stationed at a helicopter airfield outside Savannah, Georgia in 1969. He wasn’t much for partying on the weekends, so he would go into Savannah to look at the historic old southern city. One evening he found that it was too late to get back to the base, so he spent the night in an empty old mansion, eventually finding a place to sleep on the roof. He started spending quite a few weekend nights at the mansion, wondering about the history of it, and taking Polaroid pictures of the exterior and interior of the old house. Many years go by, he becomes an artist, and thinking back about that old mansion, he does some research and some follow up. The old house was built in 1872 by a military officer from the Civil War.

The article goes through the entire history of the old house up until present day. It is now a completely restored Bed and Breakfast, and it is amazing to compare his Polaroid pictures from 1969 to the pictures on the Bed and Breakfast site.I don’t know why, but I always sort of thought the sentiment of trying to save old houses from encroaching development was somewhat new. I guess I was wrong, as I came across an article in the New York Times from 1922, concerning the efforts being made to save a historic old house which had belonged to President James Monroe. The group trying to save the old house was led by the New York City Police Commissioner, and he was able to find a buyer for the home, and prevent it from being destroyed. He first became concerned with the old house when he was a young police recruit in 1897. He had moved to the city from upstate New York, when the Police Commissioner at the time, Theodore Roosevelt, was beefing up the police force. The house had been empty for a while, but even in its state of disrepair, he could see the old house was worth saving. When he became police commissioner he was able to make it happen.

Lastly, an article from the Boca Raton newspaper about a group trying to save an old house that was in danger of being torn down to make way for an apartment building. There was a buyer for the old house, who wanted to restore it and turn it into a restaurant, but it didn’t have the proper zoning. The group was trying to get the Boca Raton government to reconsider the zoning. The year the article was written was 1972. Oh, the wonder of the Internet! Move the little blue box on the right of the Boca Raton article around to magnify the part of the article you wish to read.