Archives for category: Preservation

A sketch of the bunker which was once home for nuclear missiles and military personal during the Cold War 1950s. Image Credit: Sotheby's International Realty.

Yesssssss! Green architecture! I love to see interesting buildings retro-fitted and re-purposed for living. Especially when it’s a Cold War era missile silo. Yes, a silo. You know, where missiles used to live. I WOULD TOTALLY LIVE IN A SILO.

Two entrepreneurial cousins, Bruce Francisco and Gregory Gibbons, retro-fitted one of these silos located in beautiful Adirondack State Park near Lake Placid. This $2.3 million luxury home has its own private airport… so you can fly home… of course. Thinking $2.3 million is a lot? Consider that this silo cost $18 million to build in the 1960s.

Interior of silo home. Image Credit: Sotherby's International Realty.

“The missile silo home sits on 105 acres of manicured grounds, forest and trails.  Above ground, it features a hangar and spacious open living room and fireplace with wrap around porch.  Below ground, and accessible via stairs from above ground home in what was once the launch control center, now is a two level, 3 bedroom 2-1/2 bath with open living area and kitchen adjoined by a spiral staircase.  Huge doors open to a large tunnel that accesses the silo with an additional 20,000 square feet of usable space with unlimited possibilities.” (via http://adirondackrealestate.com)

In the two lower-levels “windows” stream simulated daylight (that looks pretty real). The lower levels also include a 2000 pound door that leads to a 185-foot-deep missile storage room. And the best part? The entire steel structure hangs from gigantic spring suspension system designed to absorb the shock of a direct nuclear hit.

The renovated circular control room which was filled with water a for 30 years after it was abandoned. Image Credit: Sotherby's International Realty.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my dream home.

Historical, green, totally re-purposed, safe, interesting and totally nuclear bomb proof. Not to mention, safe from the zombie hordes which may (or may not) follow the nuclear attack.

– Ann Erling Gofus

The Hutmacher Farmstead in Dunn County, North Dakota. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus.

Green is the new black as more and more people adjust their lifestyles in the hopes of throwing global warming off its track. From fuel efficient cars to buying organic, being environmentally aware has become one of the nation’s hottest trends. And who would have guessed that tucked away in a western county of a plains state a German Russian family would be making Al Gore proud decades before his activist streak?
In 1911, Frank Hutmacher and his family emigrated from Russia and settled in Dunn County, North Dakota, where the construction of an environment friendly stone-slab home began. Using only what the prairie had to offer, Frank Hutmacher set about building a home of sandstone slabs that features a roof of branches, brush, straw, and clay. Presented with limited resources, Frank did what he could to provide shelter for his immigrant family while also blending into the area’s natural surroundings.
Environmentally safe building hasn’t changed much since then. Modern green architecture still puts to use sustainable building materials, and building techniques that are environmentally friendly and energy efficient. Although, examples of modern green buildings are slightly less obvious than the earthy Hutmacher farmsite; modern green homes can be built from recycled or all natural materials, such as cardboard or clay bricks.
The currently standing Hutmacher home was constructed mostly in 1928 and 1930, but prior construction had begun when the family immigrated in 1911. As the years passed, various additions were built, and as time wore into the 50s and the 60s, the Hutmachers continued to live in and maintain their earthen home. Although difficult to fathom now, the Hutmacher family lived without electricity until 1961, when the house was wired to run electric appliances. This stone-slab home was comfortably lived in for almost 70 years until it was finally abandoned in 1979.

North Dakota State University students working to preserve the Hutmacher Farmstead in Dunn County, North Dakota. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus.

The Hutmacher home is earthen, energy efficient and environment friendly; three aspects of going green that are often difficult to accomplish in modern green architecture. The building materials were gathered directly outside the Hutmachers’ front door, making annual repairs to damaged walls and roof simple. But best of all, the various buildings on the Hutmacher farmsite blend almost seamlessly into the prairie setting.

Dunn Country, North Dakota. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus.

This simple perfection can be appreciated by even the most hardened city dweller as one sets sight upon the Hutmacher farmstead. Eyes flow easily from the prairie grass, to the stone walls, to the earthen roof, and finally to the sky. Beautiful, natural and environmentally safe, the Hutmacher farmsite is a historical example of what it means to go green.
– I wrote this back in 12 March 2008 when I was still Ann E. Erling, sans the Gofus. I wrote it for some North Dakota publication. Not sure if it ever got published, but here it is. In the almost 4 years since I wrote this story, The Hutmacher Farmstead’s preservation. I’m planning on following up with the Hutmacher Farmstead’s people and writing us all an update.
When Ryan and I first started dating we went on a weekend trip to Paris. Oh, I know, oh la la is right. Ryan had never been to Paris before, so we hit up all the typical Parisian sites, but I insisted on one stop: I wanted to see Oscar Wilde’s tomb at the Père Lachaise cemetery.

Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus

Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus

The place is huge: winding paths, soooo many graves and although it’s a cemetery, it was really interesting to wander through. I gave Ryan the map to navigate. In the 3 years since meeting, I have learned that Ryan has a terrible sense of direction. Looking back, I realize now how hard he was trying to find the place – and after an hour of searching, we found it.

Ryan looking at a map in front of Wilde's tomb in Paris. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus

Wilde’s tomb stone was designed by Jacob Epstein – it depicts an angel who appears to be in flight, his wings trailing behind him. The angel originally had male genitalia, but has since been vandalized. I think it looks a bit Art Deco-esque, and Wikipedia informs me that Epstein’s style was considered avant-garde at the time.

Oscar Wilde's tomb stone in Paris, France. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus.

Since the ‘90s, it’s been a bit of a… tradition…? to kiss Wilde’s grave marker, leaving behind a lipstick mark. Wilde’s tomb is covered with kisses of all different colors and sizes. A sweet, cult tradition? A strange tourist attraction? A form of affection? Either way, the kisses are starting to damage the stone.

Kisses on Wilde's tomb in Paris, France. Photo Credit Ann Erling Gofus

Merlin Holland, Wilde’s grandson, said the lipstick had become a “serious problem” because the grease sinks into the stone. “Every cleaning was causing a bit more stone to wear away,” he said.

After its most recent cleaning, the tomb will reopen with a glass barrier protecting it from greasy lips. I’m sure people will continue to kiss the glass, but will it ever be the same?

As a pro-historic-preservationist, I totally support the glass barrier. It’s someone’s grave, for goodness sakes! Show some respect!

What do you think?
And while we’re answering questions, what other bizarre, cultish and awesome “tourist traditions” can you think of? We’re talking Old Wive’s Tales/Myths/Ritualistic things that we read about in travel books. Like, kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland for the gift of eloquence. Or throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain to return to Rome someday.

Any ideas?

As a 20-something, my friends and I like to daydream about the future. What kind of great careers we’ll develop, how well we plan on aging and how awesome our dream houses will be. While most of my friends are years away from taking the dive into a mortgage, it’s still a hot topic of conversation.

Everyone is looking for something different. My husband and I often dream about a home in DC, on the metro, with a big yard and lots of character and history. But a close friend recently told me that she and her husband want a brand spankin’ new house, something that they helped design themselves, that no one has lived in before them.

Repairing existing residential buildings produces about 50 percent more jobs than building new. (Photo: Flickr user AdamFranco/preservationnation.org)

I understand why people might lean towards brand new. The thought of a “fixer-upper” can be overwhelming and chances of hauntings are higher in older homes (just kidding! OR AM I!?) But stop! There are soooooo many positives to buying a historic/older home or renovating/rehabilitating an existing structure:

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