Tuesday, March 24, 2009

If Walls Could Talk

I love old buildings, and I love old downtowns. I can trace it back to by affection for my grandparents' house, a semi-attached row house built in the mid 19th Century. I love their secrets-- the closed up fireplace, the dusty cedar chests, the dirt root cellar under the kitchen. When James and I moved into our house in Islip, I stuck some old objects in the corners of the basement, hoping that someday a curious child would rummage around and discover an old can of Octagon cleanser, or a spelling primer published in 1895.
I think what compels people to undertake a renovation project is an older building's attention to architectural detail. The quality of their bones offers the reason to preserve and restore them at considerable cost and effort. Lately I've been enjoying following renovation blogs, especially Holy Hudson, chronicling a renovation of an older home in Hudson, NY. Through cyberspace, I get to live vicariously though their renovation experiences-- the "under the wallpaper" discoveries, the smelly carpets, the long, backbreaking hours. . . ah it brings back memories.
Hudson itself is a treasure full of old buildings that reminds me in an odd way of Venice. An old port of industry along the Hudson River, its slightly ragged chic and aging elegance suggests a heyday from yesteryear. And like Venice, its a great walking city; you could take the day walking from one end of Warren Street to the other and still feel as if you've just scratched the surface. Imagine how many undiscovered mysteries the cellars of Hudson hold in their earthen walls.

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