Historic Homes, New Attitudes

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As highlighted by local preservationist Ted Fulmore’s Why a Home Tour is Important on his Our History in New Albany blog, Develop New Albany, the New Albany Historic Preservation Commission and the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana have conspired to make us look good. A tour of historic New Albany properties, showcasing both fully realized and in progress restorations, will be offered on Saturday, September 9th, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The skinny:

The tour begins at the New Albany Farmers Market at Bank and Market Streets where participants will pick up a tour booklet and map guiding them to twelve properties spread throughout each of New Albany’s four historic districts. The tour booklet provides a brief history of each building and highlights their notable architectural details.

Tickets:

$15 each, $5 for children under 15

Advanced ticket sales at:

AAA Plumbing Doctor
302B Market Street

Destinations Booksellers
604 E. Spring Street

Martha’s Attic
222 Pearl Street

Tickets can also be purchased at the Farmers Market on the day of the event. All proceeds go to fund preservation activities in New Albany.

The rest:

With so many great structures available in a single day, it’s understandable that one may have the urge to rush from one to the other in an effort to view as much as possible. In a word, don’t.

The buildings on the tour represent not only the masterwork of bygone architects and builders but also the present day hope of many to turn those historic visions into something more tangible in their everyday lives. Having been in several of the homes, I can personally vouch for the craftsmanship that created them and the sincere care that refurbishes and maintains them. But it’s not the physical structures, regardless of how impressive, that are important. It’s what they represent.

In the Poetics of Space, French Philosopher Gaston Bachelard, said “Inhabited space transcends geometrical space.” Having lived downtown for over a year now, I can tell you that: 1) I truly love our house. 2) Construction started in the 1920s and it’ll never be finished. 3) I’m glad.

As long as it’s not finished, I’m not either. I’ll have a reason to walk the streets around it, searching for clues to its history and ideas about how I might improve on it. I’ll have a reason to call a neighbor over for commiseration and help, knowing that it’ll cost me more work in the long run when he calls me to his place later. I’ll have a reason to continue to meet with other friends and acquaintances to brainstorm on making the neighborhood better and how best to show the rest of the world the potential that we all plainly see. And those meetings will occur in the independent eateries and businesses that have sprung up as part of a renewal that’s bigger than any of us individually, although each of us probably feels defined by it at times.

It’s that ‘inhabited space’, that stretching idealism, that way of being that built New Albany and it’s that same energy that will superimpose itself over top of thirty years of negative images until the light burns a hole through the substrate. Like those who built the physical space we reside in, the people here aren’t choosing easier. They’re choosing better and getting to know them and their ideas is worthwhile. So take your time. Ask them about their situation. They’ll probably invite you to join in it.

Plan to walk to one of several good restaurants. Stop in the bookstore or library to reference whatever architectural or cultural detail catches your attention. Grab a cup of coffee and a pastry and wander down to the river. Find an item in a shop that will always represent the day. Enjoy the buildings, too, of course, but know that their histories are just that. It’s the future that’s really on display.

For more information about the tour, email HomeTourNA@msn.com or call 812.941.0466.

For information about preservation efforts in New Albany, check out the the Historic Preservation Commission’s web site.

If you just can’t wait until Saturday and have to buy a historic home of your own now, HistoricNewAlbany.com provides information on many properties currently for sale.

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