Here’s my incomplete compilation of great sources for historic preservation advice, historic research, places to buy stuff, and more!
Historic Preservation Guidance
- Preservation Briefs are a series of exhaustively researched and field tested articles on building preservation methods for any material or system imaginable that are published by the National Park Service. These are a great resource for getting sound advice for many of your old building’s needs. The National Park Service also publishes Preservation Tech Notes, which are slightly less rigorous, and can be a bit more concise, provide equally helpful information. The best part is both of these resources are completely free!!
- The Association for Preservation Technology founded in 1968 in the United States and Canada is the most comprehensive source for technical preservation knowledge. They produce a series of publications, of which the “APT Bulletin” is the most frequent and perhaps most helpful. They do require a yearly membership to have access to all new and old publications. However, a good public or university library will likely have access to JSTOR, which has access to all of APT’s publications.
- Building Science Corporation while not specifically a Historic Preservation architecture and consulting firm, they do address pertinent issues facing historic buildings (how and where to insulate, moisture control, ventilation, etc). A major part of their business is the research and publication of technical peer-reviewed articles on a wide range of topics within the field of building science. Many of the articles are highly informative, witty, and provide great visuals to aid in the explanation of complex topics. These various documents are all searchable and free too!
- Rehab Rochester is a publication of the Landmark Society of Western New York (see below), and was written by Steve Jordan, a good friend and a living legend in the historic preservation world (he’s been writing for Old House Journal since 1998). Despite the name this is a great concisely comprehensive guidebook for old home owners.
- Old House Journal and its sister website Old House Online are great resources for design inspiration and practical preservation advice.
- Bero Architecture PLLC the architecture firm who pays me to do this kind of stuff also has a series of brief publications called “Thoughts” which describe and advise on a wide range of historic preservation topics.
- The Landmark Society of Western New York is our greater Rochester area preservation advocacy organization. Founded in 1937, it precedes the National Trust for Historic Preservation by 10 years! The Landmark Society is a great resource for getting involved in the community, doing local history research (the “Wenrich Memorial Library” is amazing…it really is), getting advice and guidance whether you’re a preservation professional or a complete green horn, or anything else you might have questions about. They are truly an invaluable resource and asset to the Rochester community and beyond.
Researching Your Old Home (in Rochester/New York State)
- Fulton History is the retirement pass-time of Tom Tryniski. He started with old postcards, but then quickly expanded to scanning old newspaper microfilm. There are now just shy of 27 million…yes million…pages of historic news print from over 100 New York State newspapers, and now Pennsylvania ones too. What truly makes this website the absolute best on the internet is that it is a searchable database. Every single one of the 27 million pdfs has been processed with optical character recognition, and so every word, on every page is part of this searchable database, which is absolutely free. This website is where I have found nearly everything about My Perfect Little Money Pit’s history. I cannot stress enough how much this has revolutionized the way people do historic research. There are several other newspaper databases out there that are either privately or publicly funded, but none of them even come close to the comprehensiveness of Fulton History.
- The Rochester Public Library Local History Division is housed in the second floor of the Rundel Memorial Library (our astoundingly beautiful, no expense spared, Art-Deco style temple of knowledge). Their collections of historic local publications and books, maps, micro-film catalog, and other local records is second to none in the area. I have spent countless Saturdays at Local History and look forward to going there on rainy late mornings. Also run by Local History are the terrific “Rochester Images” databases of historic imagery and maps.
- The Landmark Society of Western New York’s Wenrich Memorial Library is a treasure trove of compiled and cataloged information on local history and architecture. You have to arrange a time to stop by, but it is totally worth the effort! The Wenrich has some cross-pollination with RPL Local History, but much of the information stored in its several file cabinets is primary source and unique.
- Google Books is useful for many things, including searching information on local history and even building permits. Just give it a whirl!
- Ancestry is a terrific website for genealogy research but also for perusing Census records for information on former personages associated with your home. Like Frederick J. Stadtmueller who was a worked on fabricating glass prisms at Bausch and Lomb and lived in my house for nearly 40 years. However, Ancestry is unfortunately a subscription website.
Places to Buy Stuff
- Historic Houseparts has been around for thirty-five years and has been one of my favorite places to poke around in ever since my parents bought their historic home in 2004. Jim and Chris maintain a massive collection of architectural salvage items in three warehouses and two storefronts (one being their subsidiary Period Bath Supply Company) as well as quality reproduction items. They were our source for our two new Stromb Plumbing faucets, picture hooks, and period lockset we installed on the side door. They are also a great resource for tips on re-wiring light fixtures and helped solved the problem of re-wiring our flush mount bedroom fixtures.
- ReHouse is our second architectural salvage shop in Rochester and is just around the corner from MPLMP. Sally has a wide variety of items at good prices as well as a unique niche collection of mid-century furnishings and appliances. Sally was also gracious enough to take our vinyl siding to her warehouse for possible sale and reuse (and within a few months it sold!).
- eBay, Craigslist, and estate sales. I would like to think this is obvious, but you can really find some treasures through these sources. We furnished nearly every room in our house through Craigslist and estate sales for around $1600. I also picked up our unused, still in the box McKinney Iron mailbox and matching iron exterior sconces on ebay for a song.
- Antiques stores…few things are more enjoyable for Kit and I on a Sunday afternoon than perusing antique stores. We found our to-die-for arts and crafts style light fixture for the kitchen seen in Plaster On, Plaster Off at Syracuse Antiques Exchange, which is one of our favorite places. A few of our other favorites are Simco Galleria, Uncle Sam’s Antiques, and Ontario Mall Antiques.