Gardens to Gables

This Place Matters: Preservation Month 2016

May 1, 2016. You may have many items on your calendar for today, and for the rest of the month. My old Farmer’s Almanac calendar (you can take the girl off of the farm, but you cannot remove the farm from the girl) informs me that it is May Day, or Beltane, the Gaelic holiday marking the beginning of summer. In Kentucky, the first day of May signals, to  many people, festivities around the Kentucky Derby. And for gardeners, the calendar signals that the end of danger from frost is near. It is also the beginning of Preservation Month.

Spring, in all of its verdant glory along the Cumberland River, Russell County, Kentucky.

Spring, in all of its verdant glory along the Cumberland River, Russell County, Kentucky.

I wrote about the history of Preservation Month, which began in 1973, last year on this same day. The National Trust for Historic Preservation‘s campaign for Preservation Month 2016 is “This Place Matters,” which they describe this way: “Everyone has places that are important to them. Places they care about. Places that matter. This Place Matters is national campaign that encourages people to celebrate the places that are meaningful to them and to their communities. This campaign isn’t just about photography. It’s about telling the stories of the places we can’t live without. Through This Place Matters, we hope to encourage and inspire an ongoing dialogue about the importance of place and preservation in all of our lives.”

Corner commercial building in downtown Harlan, Kentucky.

Corner commercial building in downtown Harlan, Kentucky.

I love the emphasis placed on stories, probably because that is the main focus of what I do, day in and day out. Historic preservation isn’t always a term or a profession that is well understood or appreciated. But learning about a place, the people that helped shape it, and what it means to them, and then sharing those stories – who can’t relate to that?

Small hall-parlor house, Monroe County, Kentucky.

Small hall-parlor house, Monroe County, Kentucky.

In 2015, I fixed on the lofty goal of a blog post a day to highlight Preservation Month and the importance of historic sites and landscapes to our communities and our collective heritage. It was an exhausting task, but I apparently didn’t learn my lesson, because I am determined to accomplish the same this year.

Commercial building in Wickliffe, Ballard County, Kentucky.

Commercial building in Wickliffe, Ballard County, Kentucky.

I keep a running list all year of topics and places I would like to write about  – and then struggle to figure out when I can compose a worthy piece on each subject. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may have an inkling of where my interests lie, and I do hope I don’t run those passions into the ground. What I consider a pivotal building or streetscape may vary wildly from your opinion – but the beauty of storytelling is immersing yourself in the hopes and loves of another person, and emerging with a new appreciation for what they hold dear.

Late-19th century house (with a glorious porch), Bellevue, Campbell County, Kentucky.

Late-19th century house (with a glorious porch), Bellevue, Campbell County, Kentucky.

So as I embark on this month-long journey, I hope you will see a new place – or a familiar one – in a different way, and perhaps stop and think about what it would mean to you, and even your town, if a particular landmark building or landscape vista ceased to exist. Or as you drive through a neighborhood of historic buildings that you’ve seen time and time again, take a moment to think about all the stories the walls of those buildings contain. Though what I choose to write about is certainly influenced by my love of vernacular architecture and rural Kentucky, as well as by locations I’ve actually visited (it is very hard to write with any truthfulness or conviction about a place I’ve never been to in person), I love to hear about the places that matter to other people. So if there is a place that matters to you, whether it be a historic house, an old warehouse, or a landscape that holds meaning – leave a comment or contact me. Maybe it’s a spot I’ve visited as well, and we can trade stories, and introduce that place to other people. Happy reading, and Happy Preservation Month!

One of my favorite places is just about anywhere in rural Kentucky – with agricultural land around me, and a barn or two nearby. It may not be my farm, or my hometown, but it holds meaning far beyond its specific location. Bourbon County, Kentucky.

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