Gardens to Gables

Preservation is a Full-time Affair

It’s the last day of May, and the last day of Preservation Month. My challenge to myself, to write a daily blog post, is nearing its end. While I didn’t quite make 31 posts (I believe 29 is my total, and I blame that on the lovely weather that wouldn’t allow me to sit in front of a computer), I’ve proved to myself that this level of content production is possible. And should anyone wish to become my wealthy patron so that I can make my explorations and wanderings a full-time job, and Gardens to Gables my business – do let me know!

The former Carrsville Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Carrsville, Livingston County, Kentucky.

The former Carrsville Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Carrsville, Livingston County, Kentucky.

Shameless self-promotion aside, it was hard to carve out the time to create a daily post. Difficult, yet exhilarating – I don’t always get to work on enthralling subjects in my real job, so this outlet was more than rewarding. I love to share stories with folks, and hear their stories in return. The best thing I did was procure a spiral bound (hardback) little journal, where I jot down ideas and places I want to visit, research, and write about. It’s a relief to know that my imagination still works.

Small turn of the century house, Allen County, Kentucky.

Small turn of the century house, Allen County, Kentucky.

As I walked around downtown Lexington this morning, mentally exclaiming over the tiny details I noticed on one building or another, I thought about the culture that celebrates or recognizes different causes/people/issues through the calendar structure. Part of me finds that superficial and stifling, but I also realize the inherent necessity of such a deliberate strategy. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need Native American month or Black History month. In a perfect world, we would learn from the tragedies and horrors of history, and not repeat those mistakes.

Greek Revival doorway, Montgomery County, Kentucky.

Greek Revival doorway, Montgomery County, Kentucky.

I’m not an advocate for perfection – I don’t think it’s possible. And it may not seem like Preservation Month has much in common with months designed to honor two races that this country treated barbarically. On the surface, the three have nothing in common. But when I stood on South Upper Street this morning, looking toward Main Street in Lexington, and marveled at the view in front of me: picture-perfect Kentucky sky, an evolution of historic dwellings, and the profiles of Big Blue and Central Bank — I saw a scene of inclusiveness, cooperation, compromise, and mutual respect.

In the foreground, a clapboard clad single pen log house, next to it, a 21st infilll dwelling, and next to that, a late-19th century dwelling.

In the foreground, a clapboard clad single pen log house, next to it, a 21st infilll dwelling, and next to that, a late-19th century dwelling.

That is the best of our built environment – retaining, building new, restoring – resulting in a landscape that conveys a sense of the community. Granted, it may be a rare view in parts of this town where I live – Lexington has gotten a great deal wrong when dealing with its historic fabric – but there are also places where different interest groups worked together and the quilt of living that emerges is real and right.

Corncrib, Nicholas County, Kentucky.

Corncrib, Nicholas County, Kentucky.

So maybe a month out of the year to highlight the story of a people, or the principles of a movement, isn’t all bad. Maybe it makes you stop and reconsider the way you’ve always looked at things – to question your beliefs, check your judgements, and listen carefully to another person’s perspective. I don’t expect everyone to embrace my passionate love of historic (and sometimes dilapidated) buildings. But if they don’t dismiss it out of hand, and allow that our landscapes and historic resources add something to the quality of life, then I feel like we’ve all grown a bit.

Capturing some stories by the side of the road in rural West Virginia.

Capturing some stories by the side of the road in rural West Virginia.

I’ll be back to posting on a less frantic schedule starting June 1 – but I so appreciate everyone who took the time to post a message or send me an e-mail about a particular post. If you have a place or a building that you think I should know about, please let me know! There will be no England for me this summer, so Kentucky will be my playground and vacation land – and I’d like to get gloriously lost on some winding country road out in our Bluegrass, and discover some old house, or a weathered and leaning barn that inspires and delights. And then I will share it here.

Mail pouch barn in Elliott County, Kentucky.

Mail pouch barn in Elliott County, Kentucky.

 

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One Thought on “Preservation is a Full-time Affair

  1. Janet Johnson on June 1, 2015 at 12:01 am said:

    I’m going to miss your daily blogs. Wish I had money to be your patron!

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