Monday, June 27, 2005

Gonna Buy Five Copies For My Mother!

No, I’m not going to be on the cover of The Rolling Stone, but me and my house are going to be in the paper. The BIG GUEST that I’ve been alluding to for the past week or so is the reporter for the local newspaper, The Times Standard. Here is how it happened.

As you may or may not recall a few months ago I had my house listed on the Local Register of Historic Places. I had to fill out a short form down at City Hall with basic information about the house and they also asked me to write about the house and any history of the house that I know. Well, because I’m obsessed and neurotic I wrote a ton. At the Preservation Commission meeting, where the Commission decided whether my house was worthy to be added to the list (of course it was) the City Planner said that she had never received more calls on something dealing with the Preservation Commission than she had on my application to add my house to the list. When asked by the chairperson whether these comments where mostly positive or negative, the City Planner replied that they were mostly just my neighbors wondering how this would effect their property. It turns out the notice of my application was sent to everyone with-in 300 yards of my property.

At any rate, none of the neighbors are affected by this at all, and the house made it on the list with almost no complaints (Thank you Mr. Droze). I was very excited about being added to the list and started the process of trying to add my house to the National Register of Historic Places. I also told just about anyone that would listen to me for 5 seconds that my house was now on the Local Register. I got a lot of strange comments. Several people thought I was now getting special tax breaks for the city or county. Others thought I would have to get a special permit to change the carpeting or paint the bathroom. Other people told me it was a dumb thing to do because no one would want to buy my house because of all the “restrictions” that the city would put on the new owners.

I explained to them that the only “restrictions” that would be placed on anyone would be what could be done to the facade that faces the street. They wouldn’t be able to pry off the gingerbread, put vinyl siding on, or add huge plate glass windows. In short, they wouldn’t be able to butcher the outside of the house that I have worked so hard on to restore. And if someday I do go to sell the house, I wouldn’t want to sell it to someone that would want to do those things. As far as the interior goes - anything goes. Even if the house is on the National Register of Historic Places you can gut all rooms and interior walls, build a giant pink pyramid, sit under it naked, and eat dog poop. Nobody cares. There are no restrictions on what you can do to the interior or back of the house. What all this proved to me is that there is a lot of ignorance and misinformation of Historic Preservation.

But, let’s get back to the newspaper.

Once a month there is an insert called Restore & Preserve in the local paper. It is usually 8 to 12 pages long, and mostly focused on local architecture, but also does some pieces on cultural history. I read it front to back every month. After reading the issue that came out shortly after listing my house I emailed the editor with a story idea to talk about what it means to have your house listed on the Local Register of Historic places. I thought it would be a good opportunity to educated people on it, and as it turns out, a lot of people could use the education.

The editor emailed me back a few weeks later and said it sounded like a good idea and why not do the story specifically about me and my house. I was a little hesitant at first. I really don’t care for the spot light. Also, most of the houses in Restore & Preserve are, well, restored and preserved. My house – the feculent hell-hole – is far from being restored. I wrote her back and told her about the condition of my house and suggested she go and look at some photos on my web site first. If she still thought it was a good idea, email me again, and we would talk. I didn’t hear from her for several weeks and I was a bit relieved. I figured she had seen the pictures and thought twice about doing a story on my house. Well, last week she emailed me again and suggested we get together. We made an appointment for today at 2:30.

She was here for about an hour and a half with a photographer. I can talk (and write) endlessly about my house and I did. They got a picture of me standing in front of the little door I made. Not sure if I like that or not. It went well, I guess. It is supposed to be in the July or August edition. I’m going to email here some additional “before” shots, along with the paper work for the National Register of Historic Places. I’m going to ask her if she’ll put it in the August edition. That is the same month I’m having the big shin-dig at my house with all the other old house owners. I’m sure they’ll all be green with envy over me having my house in the paper. Should be fun.


Jocelyn said...

way cool. I know what you mean about being able to talk incessantly about your house. I feel the same way.
But you didn't tell us: were thye full of praise and admiration of your work? (How could they not be?) :)

and how excellent to have that in the paper during your party- what a win!

Trissa said...

That's great- first of all, congratulations on putting forth the effort to get your house on the historical register. I love the idea of the Restore and Preserve section in the paper. The Seattle paper usually showcases some houses in the Pacific Magazine on Sunday, but they are a wide variety of homes. Will we be able to view the article about you and your home online?

Kristin said...

There have been two articles about our little town lately in the bigger city papers, but we weren't in either of them. :( Our house isn't mansion-y enough. But since I'm a journalist, I'm bored with having my name in print anyway. Well, sort of. :)

Greg said...

Well, I think they were impressed with the amount of work I'm doing. I get the feeling that many people are impressed with it the way you might be impressed with someone who rides in a barrel over Niagara Falls. Your impressed that they are willing to do it, but at the same time you think they are a bit nuts.

The Restore & Preserve is on the web site for the newspaper but it is a few months behind. Here is the link.

The most recent issue that is listed is a good one because rather than talking about a particular house it talks about the different styles. It is helpful in identifying styles. You can download it in PDF format.

Kristin: A journalist? That is cool. I wish I could write for a living.

merideth said...

that. is. so. KEWL!!!

i think most of us old housers are like people with kids...we could talk endlessly about what we think are the fascinating details of living with them...fortunately, we have lots of other OHPs (that's Old House Parents) to encourage our habits...and now, you have the press to encourage you!

rock on.

Heather said...

How did I miss this post when it came out??? Congrats on your press! We all expect you to post a copy of the article online when it comes out or at least give us a link to the paper's website!

Becky said...

That is so cool!

Thank you for taking time out from all you are doing to help educate people in your area about what "we are doing."