Editor's Letter: The tap runneth over
A recent OHJ reader survey turned up the fact that many subscribers are on their fourth—or seventh!—serial restoration. (OHJ launched in 1973 and many people have been with us for a good part of the ride.) Unlike flippers, they live in the houses they restore. I’m on the lookout for that trend as I correspond with readers and produce stories. Michigan homeowners Tom and David sent photos of their Shingle Style makeover and its farmhouse kitchen, mentioning in passing that this sixth project was possibly their last. David sent a photo of the sprawling Queen Anne house they’d meticulously restored and then sold during the move to the lake. Amazing.
People who restore old houses tend to have related passions. “Thank you for mentioning Ishpeming,” David wrote to me; “I’m almost as passionate about our adopted hometown as I am about restoration and the recycling of materials. Landfills be damned!
“It was hard for us to sell the Victorian,” he continued, “but it was as ‘done’ as an old house can be. Our buyer grew up just five doors away and had always loved this home. We were happy to transfer our old house to him and his lovely English wife, and to move ahead to rescue the turn-of-the-century house on the water. Did I mention that payments on our current home are half of what they were on the previous? It’ll be paid for by our retirement.”
And so preservation-minded homeowners quietly continue their stewardship of these old houses that embody the past and anchor neighborhoods. The sensibility extends now beyond early and Victorian and Craftsman-era homes to those built between the big wars and also to postwar Modern houses. Each period has its own unique architectural record worth preserving—for the fun of learning, for their aesthetics, and for posterity. Not every old building can be saved, or should be, but a good house of its time is best regarded as a survivor.
~ Patricia Poore, Editorial Director of Old House Journal
Look below to see stories from this issue.