1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

I'm Baaaaack!

I'm back home after several days in Louisville, Kentucky, where I got three massive blisters on my feet, saw snow for the first time in years, met Mikey from American Choppers, and was falsely accused of paparazzi-ism by a member of an aging country music star's entourage.

I'm so glad to be home I can't even express it. It took all my self-control not to fall down and kiss the hideous vinyl floor.

I rolled into Eutaw at about midnight Friday. Saturday morning we attended an auction at an antebellum house my parents are interested in here in town. It's an awesome house with 16-foot ceilings (!!!!) and it's on the National Register. Still, it needs LOTS of work. For example, the kitchen has a gigantic dip in the floor, there are big patches of plaster falling off everywhere, and it more than likely needs all-new plumbing and electrical.

My parents have never owned an old house before and are usually not the DIY types. However, they are approaching retirement age, and already my dad is bored. Lately, he has taken to gardening and going all out with the Christmas lights - things he rarely did when we were growing up.

Plus, Dad is a big history buff. He's the person who taught me to appreciate history. Though I'm dubious whether he and Mom have the patience for this project, I can see Dad really loving owning a piece of history like that.

And the yard is 10 acres and gorgeous. My dad was a forester for years, so he is a sucker for a lovely piece of land with some giant old trees. Trekking through the tall grass with him on Saturday reminded me of the times as a child when he would take me for walks and teach me the names of the trees.

Also this weekend, we got to see inside another National Register house in Eutaw, this one in impeccable condition. It was so beautiful. Best of all, the house has only had three owners (like ours, but this house is much older) and several photos, portraits, books and even CLOTHES were left in the house by the original owners. They have a black mourning dress on a mannequin, and I almost passed out from joy when I saw it. *SIGH* I'm so jealous.

Speaking of National Register stuff, the owners of that house advised us to start the application process to register our house. I didn't realize a house only has to be 100 years old to qualify. I thought it had to be "significant" in some way, but apparently just being at least 100 years old is significant enough, especially since we're in a town that's chock full of National Register houses.

I need to look into it some more. Anyone out there gone through the registration process? Seems like I've read it's reeeeeally complicated and time-consuming. But these folks said it wasn't too bad.

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4 Comments:

amanda said...

Wow, I didn't know that a house could be considered significant if it was 100 years old! That's so cool. Well, only 9 more years to wait. ;)

12:07 PM  
Greg said...

I have gone through a lot of the process and filled out most of the paper work. You want to start at the State Level. The State Office of Historic Preservation. The National Parks Dept. controls the National Register of Historic Places but all applications are vetted by the state office. Ninety-Nine percent of all applications that make it to the Natl. Office are added to the list because the state did all the leg work.

The big stumbling block for me has been photo documentation. They want archival quality B&W photos at least 5X7 in size. When I went to look in to photos, though, I found that the word “archival” is almost meaningless because it is used so often. It is little more than a marketing term. What it comes down to is paying a professional to produce them and they are expensive. I’m working out an agreement with one of my tenants to produce them for me. She is a photography major and has access to the Universities photo lab so she can produce true B&W archival prints.

12:21 PM  
John said...

Greg has covered most of the important stuff, but I have a few things to add.

1) Check the 100 year old rule. Maybe it's changed in the last few years, or it is particular to Alabama, but when we applied it was 50 years or older.

2) The "famous dead person slept here" factor. If you can prove that a famous dead person is in any way connected to your house (built, owned, designed, slept in, or died in), you have a much better chance of getting on the National Register.

Famous is pretty loosely defined for these purposes. They don't have to be Elvis. Local politicians, writers, artists, etc count too.

3) If you don't make it the first time, try again. I don't know if this is a statistic for Arkansas or the nation as a whole, but approximately 3/4 of applications are denigned every year.

4) Good photos are a must. Take lots of photos of any original architectural details (millwork, lights, etc). Anything historical that will make your house seem extra special.

In case you are wondering, the Devil Queen's application never made it past the state level. They said that she was only of "local interest," and that her "historical value" had been lost since it had been moved from its origianl location.

I contacted the federal level at the Parks Dept. regarding the second point, and they said moving a structure does not disqualify it for Register. I guess the Queen just wasn't cool enough. We'll just have to have someone famous sleep here.

Good luck.

12:43 PM  
Kristin said...

I'd always heard about the "famous people slept here" thing, too. As far as I know, only ordinary people have slept in our house! :)

I shouldn't have a problem with the photograph thing b/c my sister is a photographer.

Hmm, okay ... must check out state site first. I go there all the time to look at the out-of-date listings for old houses around the state.

4:28 PM  

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