Well, it seems we have a political season where everyone seems to be claiming they ‘love’ history and claim to be preservationists. We have a fake preservationist who had to get one of his supporters to fend off the fact that even this Ward 2 candidate’s closest relatives and those who have dealt with him over the years; know he’s NOT a preservationist. It’s probably his best effort to fool as many as possible to at least get elected – what does the truth matter anyway.
Then we’ve got candidates who realize that our historic architecture isn’t just ‘pretty’; it’s our bread and butter. All that antique architecture brings in visitors who intensely desire to live here and before they do that; intensely want to be here – raising the value of our real estate and bringing in cash from outside the community. So, after destroying our ability to protect such assets as our historic district now want to croon about ‘history’. History being defined as artifacts put inside a dusty glass cabinet in the vaulted rooms of a museum. Why else does one candidate who has an historic plaque on her house (which is for the benefit of our visitors) has it turned AWAY from the street!
Other’s mouth historic preservation off as if it’s some abstract concept which they will pursue in an esoteric way.
No, it is not – it’s gritty, it’s hard work and the reward – well, perhaps not immediately but it will mean that you will benefit while posterity will get to appreciate the historic story of Newburyport and of our Nation.
Sure, the NRA redid the downtown but it was the citizens, many of them newcomers, who took dilapidated, rundown historic houses and turned them into the lovely neighborhoods that we see today. Did they have degrees in restoration techniques? Were they trained by preservation masters? Did they have tons of cash to pour over all the details?
They often had no idea what they were doing. Their training came from experience (many times painful). And money? The banks laughed at them as they saved, they scrimped, sometimes borrowed – and yes, even dumpster dived or hung out at flea markets and yard sales – just to work on the house.
But their motives were pure.
They wanted to restore what they could and renovate what they couldn’t so they could bring back our historic past and resurrect a once, grand city.
So, how do you stop being a fake and be a real one?
By cherishing your old house and seeking ways to resurrect the glory of a bygone era. To have the patience to educate yourself on old architecture, to have the longsuffering to put up with the hard work of restoring rather than replacing it with a cheap copy. And to advocate for the protection of our city’s historic assets.
And to go to workshops and seminars so you can absorb some of the experience that others have gained.
One of those who have had the experience and wishes to relate that information to other persevering preservationists is Rick Tanner, who regularly contributes to DIY. He will be at the Newburyport Public Library tomorrow Thursday at 7:00 to impart his acquired wisdom.
IF YOU ARE PURE OF HEART WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR HISTORIC HOUSE – THEN COME! (Event is free)
PS. Speaking of gaining wisdom, the entire organization, Newburyport Preservation Trust, is dedicated to assisting owners of historic buildings with precious know-how. Check out their website for future events and seminars. They are sponsoring the event at the Library.