Old American Houses and How to Restore Them - 1700-1850

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Read Books, 2008 - History - 256 pages
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by HENRY LIONEL WILLIAMS and OTTALIE K. WILLIAMS. We believe That it is quite possible to create a modern, up-to-date home in a small house belonging to another age, blending with the quiet simplicity of old time living the advantages of present-day labor-saving facilities, materials, and methods. That living in an old-time house does not necessarily connote an old fashioned way of life, with its accompaniments of drudgery and dirt. And it does offer something besides the hard impersonality of plate glass, the clinical asepsis of white enamel, the cacophony of clanging tin cupboards, and hard lines that make a fetish of function at the price of restful beauty and elevate the machine product above the manual skills of the craftsman who put something of himself in everything he made. That in this feverish age, when change is so often mistaken for progress, we would all do well to consider the advantages of a lessened tempo in our hours of relaxation. A less challenging atmosphere than that which the modernists offer is a step in the right direction. In our small towns, villages, and rural countrysides we can still find these quiet backwaters small worlds where harried human existence gives way to more natural living, and people have time to be neighbors instead of competitors in an economic race. There the quiet, unostentatious small house is the symbol and the core of a way of life that is human a far cry from the materialistic impersonality of the modern functional cage that is the dream of those who forget that senti ment is as important as reason in a full and rounded life. Preface buying of a little old house to make into a home is, for - 1L the understanding, a sentimental adventure that can bring rich rewards. But to achieve the aim of making it livable, in the twentieth century sense, without destroying its character and rubbing off the mellow bloom of age, calls for far more knowledge and determi nation than we may realize at first. More often than not, this job of intelligent remodeling is coupled with the need for removing the mistakes of others and restoring features that have been altered or eliminated by those who did not value the things that give these early houses their distinctive charm. Both of these matters require attention soon after the house is bought. The process of acquiring a house is, therefore, not the end but the beginning of a venture that may bring years of satisfaction and happiness, or disappointment and regrets. The decision lies in the manner in which the restoration and adapta tions are carried out. These are matters in which most people need help, for intelligence is no valid substitute for experience, and enthu siasm is no sure guide. The purpose of this book is to answer some of the questions which every new owner of an old house must sometime ask to reveal the skill and care which our forefathers put into the little houses that became the first American homes and to show how their character, developed and sometimes marred by time and human activity, can be preserved or revived. If you are one of those who seek, but have not yet found, one of these small houses built a century and a half or two centuries ago, there is encouragement in knowing how much can be done to re-capture the spirit of the past and make it a splendid part of life today. ..

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