The advisory meeting to plan the Traditional Building Conference took place recently. It was a great discussion between traditionalists, preservationists, contractors, architects and some of the team from the Conference and its sister publications. Lee Reid, from Boston-based builders Payne and Bouchier, exclaimed during the meeting, “preservation is not a fad.” She is so right on so many levels and Salem, MA, on July 18-19 will be the right place to delve deeply into this fact. Forget reality TV; this will be reality architecture. Enduring. Well built. Traditional.
During the meeting we wrestled with important topics like how to install technology in sensitive ways into historic settings. We talked about the importance of taking historic districts seriously to protect against incremental loss. No one enjoys enforcing the laws but if we don’t, historic buildings suffer; property values drop; and most importantly, historic character erodes. We questioned how to handle substitute materials that have yet to stand the test of time. We talked about getting the details right in stonework. A myriad of thoughts relating to good paint adhesion and window repair and replacement were shared.
Throughout the discussion it was clear that our center of gravity was protection – of historic materials, protection of the methods that allow place makers to build good traditional buildings, and protection of the sense of place that good buildings with gardens, interesting streets, and great bones give us. Salem is rich with architecture. Just outside the Hawthorne Hotel is a magnificent common ringed by Federal period and older homes and nearby are the Pickering House, the Gardiner Pingree House, the Phillips Library and the Peabody Essex Museum. Salem has the largest concentration of First Period buildings in America (1620-1720). That’s 400 years of practice!
Salem and its citizenry know that preservation is not a fad and they have the buildings, local economy, and pride to prove it and inspire us.