A building stands at the edge of a road, screened from view by overgrown shrubs, young trees, and waste-height grass. It resides in a sparsely populated area on the outskirts of Douglasville, where an active rail line is its closest neighbor. The former residence sits in relative silence on a two acre lot. Despite its proximity to the road, the only sounds are of the wind playing the vegetation that is slowly overtaking this property like an instrument and the occasional roar of a passing train.
The house was built in 1917 ~ a very robust, yet simple form of Craftsman Bungalow. It is one of only a handful of seemingly intact (more or less) buildings in the area from that period. And it is beautiful. Sadly, that beauty may only be skin deep. According to one neighbor, the house is broken into frequently by druggies and vandals, so the interior is a burned-out wreck. Despite my curiosity, my better judgement prevailed and I made no attempt to enter.
But I took a closer look. How does this happen? A house like this is built of such durable materials one would expect only fire or an act of God to bring it down so soon, but the inescapable truth is that old age claims all things in time. Buildings are no different. But that understanding does little to allay the shock and disappoint of encountering such a thing of beauty, so capable of enduring for generations, in such a state.
But contrary to what you might think, such a place is not beyond salvage. With the right investor, guidance (preferably an experienced, AIA-accredited historical architect), and planning (utilizing financial incentives in the form of state tax breaks or credits), this place could be a home again ~ or even a business. It doesn't have to be a sad story and it doesn't have to be a ruin. It is a fundamental role of historic preservation to give places like this as long and full a life as possible ~ to always prolong the inevitable in places that matter. So, that one day it will leave behind more than just an empty ruin (or a brand spanking new CVS), like a book, whose pages have been wiped clean. It could leave behind a legacy of a long life and a story worth telling.
If you own an historic building and find yourself in need of guidance or assistance in getting started with your own preservation activities (be it stabilization, rehabilitation and adaptive reuse, restoration, or ~ in extreme cases only ~ salvage), we at Rag and Bone are at your service. Feel free to drop us a line here or on our Facebook page. We would love to hear from you.