Tag Archives: Carole King

Conference To Showcase Historic Midtown Living

Montgomery will be THE HOT spot for historic preservation October 7 through the 9th. We will be the host city for the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation and the Alabama Historical Commission annual statewide conference Preserving Alabama’s Hometowns, Embracing Historic Places—Making Life Better. The focus of this year’s conference is to showcase historic preservation as a tool in creating a vital, cultural, economic, and tourism core for downtown Montgomery as well as preserving and reclaiming our historic neighborhoods in which to live. The keynote speaker will be Donovan Rypkema, an internationally noted expert on using historic preservation as an economic development tool.

This year the conference is offering several tracks that offer something for anyone involved in old house living. The Preservation and Historic Neighborhoods: Building Better Communities track includes presentations and conversations with city planners, residents of historic neighborhoods and key leaders in neighborhood associations across the state. We’ll hear about the role of architectural review boards, the value of master tree plans, urban planning and city codes to enhance historic neighborhoods and they will show us how it all fits together preserving historic neighborhoods and making our lives better, (but us Midtowners already know this!)

Another track, Preservation and the Decorative Arts, will focus on living with fine art, artifacts and their care and conservation. A few highlights that Montgomery Midtowners might especially be interested in are listed below.

  • How to live with our old stuff (antiques)- a presentation and discussion about 19th century Alabama-made furniture and imports.
  • Wooden window restoration workshop demonstrating how to improve energy efficiency and maintaining important materials and features of our old windows.
  • An informative walk through two of our midtown historic neighborhoods, Cottage Hill and Old Cloverdale.
  • A panel discussion with historic neighborhood planners and residents of these neighborhoods from across the state talking about what works and what doesn’t.
  • Networking with other old house enthusiasts at lunch in Rescued Relics at Old Alabama Town.
  • How to preserve your family papers, images and artifacts.

And of great note and fanfare, our own David Braly and Mark Montoya, of Midtown Montgomery Living, will be receiving an Alabama Trust For Historic Preservation Rehabilitation Award for their exemplary rehabilitation of Fire House #9 on South McDonough Street in the Garden District. They will be showcasing the Fire House on Thursday evening 7:30 until 9:30 for Fire and Ice Soiree, a fundraiser for the ATHP.

Katherine and David Rees on Galena Avenue in Old Cloverdale have also graciously volunteered their lovely home and formal gardens for Moonlight Garden and Candlelight Dinner Party as a fundraiser for the ATHP on Friday evening at 7:30. (Have you gotten the idea yet that lots of folks in Montgomery support the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation?) Built in 1906, the home is graced with antiques and art and guests can enjoy dining in this 1906 house and meandering through its Lime Gardens with ornamental iron work, brick terraces and a dance pavilion.

For a complete listing of all the offerings of this conference and for registration options so you won’t miss anything go to www.alabamatrust.info or call 205-652-3497. Many activities, including registration, are centered at the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

Katherine and David Rees (who are gluttons for punishment but yet so generous to share) will also open their fabulous home and gardens for the Friends of the Alabama Governor’s Mansion fundraiser on Saturday afternoon from 3:00 until 6:00. Call 334-233-8595 for ticket information.

How can any Montgomery Midtowner ever say there is nothing to do in Montgomery?

Carole King (not the singer, just the hummer) enjoys midtown living from South Capitol Parkway in Capitol Heights where she has lived for 25+years. Carole has been the historic properties curator for the Landmarks Foundation that manages Old Alabama Town for 28 years and is passionate about neighborhoods, their architectural character, their people, and their preservation!

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Free Wheeling: Biking in Midtown

My love affair with the bicycle began on a cold December 25th in 1960 with Santa’s delivery.

With the help of training wheels I quickly mastered the ride, and by third grade was cycling daily to Bellingrath Elementary. I eventually grew into a “big girl” bike and began to venture into adjacent neighborhoods with other free-wheeling friends and groups such as Girl Scouts. By the time I reached high school, you would have thought I would have grown out of it, but I had transferred my affections to a pre-loved authentic English racing bike that I found in a trash pile discarded by moving military family. That bicycle took me on many adventures exploring neighborhoods around town (which may contribute to my interest in architecture and preservation) including back and forth to a part-time job. In college, I invested in flashy lime green mixte-framed French touring bike that I rode for the next 30 years. I even used the subject of bicycling in college class projects: consumer reports on best bikes to purchase for economics class, bicycling laws for political science class, photographs of bicycles for design class — yes, I was obsessed!

City codes from the mid 1970s specify that bike riders must obey the instructions of official traffic control signals. No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within a business district. No person 14 or more years of age shall ride upon any sidewalk in any district. (I guess that means younger folks can ride on the sidewalk at least in the neighborhoods?) No person shall park a bicycle upon a street other than against the curb, in a rack, or against a building, as to afford the least obstruction to pedestrians. And this is my favorite — No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least 100 feet, except that it cannot be a siren or a whistle. I purchased an obnoxious bell and Wizard-of-Oz-like willow basket for my bike that took advantage of the wheeling revival.

So now in my middle years I find myself continuing to be enamored with this amazing machine and how it has evolved. There are still some of us hardcore cyclers out there and I see us pedaling through Midtown in the afternoons or on weekends. There is a very active Montgomery Bicycle Club that “promotes recreational and competitive cycling in the central Alabama area … and supports bicycle safety and awareness advocacy programs.” The club has some great rural routes to ride on the upcoming autumn days, but I’m more of a non-competitive urban pedaler. I have frustrated more than one companion cycler by just cruising looking at the trees and houses rather than pushing for distance and speed.

The nice fellows at Cloverdale Service Center are fabulous tire-filler-uppers and there are several places around town that purport to sell and repair bikes. Some of our MATS buses sport bike racks on the front for folks who have further to go than the bus routes take them. When I ride, I always must find places to secure my bike because of the lack of available bike racks, although I did see two racks at the Morgan Library downtown. Many of the newest long range plans for neighborhood revitalization and development and the Smart Code are addressing the need for bike lanes to encourage less auto dependency.

So, now that the weather is once again conducive to a pleasant evening ride, I encourage Midtowners to dust off that Schwinn, lube up the tandem and take advantage of the place we call home.

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Carole King (not the singer, just the hummer) enjoys midtown living from South Capitol Parkway in Capitol Heights where she has lived for 25+years. Carole has been the historic properties curator for the Landmarks Foundation that manages Old Alabama Town for 28 years and is passionate about neighborhoods, their architectural character, their people, and their preservation!


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Midtown Living: The Ultimate Recycling

By Carole King

Whenever I send an email I complete my signature with an icon about historic preservation being the ultimate recycling. I consider myself a green person and try diligently to recycle aluminum, papers, cardboard, etc. but I’ve decided that living in Midtown in a 98 year old bungalow is the best way to live by that creed. A friend recently forwarded a great article that has the misleading title of “Ten Easy Steps to Becoming a Radical Homemaker” written by Shannon Hayes for Yes! Magazine. Anybody who knows me knows that homemaking, nesting and housecleaning are not my forté! But when I read the article, I realized that Ms. Hayes was really just explaining how to be true to the planet, true to ourselves, and true to our historic neighborhoods. And since living simply is the totally chic thing to do now, we residents of midtown Montgomery are in vogue. This is my version of 10 easy steps to living green and getting the most out of living in Midtown Montgomery:

  • Hang your laundry outside to dry. My dryer died last summer and I have actually gotten addicted to really fresh smelling sheets and towels and am saving money on utilities.
  • Try your hand at planting some of your own food. I have a plethora of multi-generational squirrel families in my pecan trees, so I always plant my Sweet 100s or grape tomatoes and peppers in pots. I also have several blueberry bushes in pots and move them around to make sure they get enough sun to produce berries. They have a great fall color as well.
  • Know who your neighbors are. They can be a cheap burglar alarm system. Every time I have any work done at my house, I get multiple calls from neighbors just checking to see who the unfamiliar van in my driveway belongs to. You might even consider carpooling with your neighbors if you work near each other, thus being even greener! Or better yet, bicycle to work — but that’s fodder for another post!
  • Buy your food locally. We in midtown are lucky to have three farmers’ markets available to us — Madison Avenue, Fairview Avenue and the State Farmers’ Market on Coliseum Boulevard. Vendors don’t just carry fresh produce. You can also purchase eggs, cheese, tea, flowers and gifts at our local markets.
  • Clean out regularly. Donate household items and clothing to the many charities we have locally. They can either distribute to their clients or sell in income-producing thrift shops. Plus, how many black pair of slacks do we realllllllly need?
  • Carry your own bags. Whether it’s the grocery store, farmers’ market, or discount store, carry something to bring home your purchases in. I enjoy using really fun carriers that advertise yet another cause!
  • Try your hand at preserving a seasonal food item that you will enjoy later. I grow the smaller tomatoes, dehydrate them and then store in (recycled) glass jars of olive oil and garlic. Lots of folks freeze peaches, peas, corn or beans to enjoy when the weather turns colder.
  • Spend time at home with your family while preparing and sharing a meal. It saves restaurant costs, catches up on family doings, cuts down on movie or other entertainment costs and could really be fun! Cancel the cable and get out those old traditional board games like Monopoly, Clue or checkers. It’s all new to the kids…
  • Use our local libraries. The outer neighborhoods have smaller satellite libraries but our Juliette Morgan Branch on South Lawrence Street stays open in the evenings and the weekends. Besides books for all ages, they have books-on-CDs, videos and DVD movies. Check out all of the libraries’ services. And it’s all free!
  • And last, but definitely not least: “Focus on enjoying what you have and who you are with. Stop fixating on what you think you may need, or how things could be better.” (Shannon Hayes in radicalhomemakers.com). And I don’t think I could have said it any better.

Carole King (not the singer, just the hummer) enjoys midtown living from South Capitol Parkway in Capitol Heights where she has lived for 25+years. Carole has been the historic properties curator for the Landmarks Foundation that manages Old Alabama Town for 28 years and is passionate about neighborhoods, their architectural character, their people, and their preservation!

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More that Just a Pretty Face: A Historic Guide to Exterior Paint

By Carole King

I came across this wonderfully researched and written article by Megan Lord originally published in the Preservation in Print, December 2009/January 2010 edition, circulated by the Preservation Resource Center in New Orleans. It was such a concise professional analysis of an issue we all constantly deal with living in our historic homes in Midtown. She and the LA-SHPO office gave us permission to reprint. The photos that I have added are local examples of what she writes about. Enjoy it and keep a copy handy to refer to next time you notice peeling paint on your rafters!

More that Just a Pretty Face: A Historic Guide to Exterior Paint

Reprinted with permission from Preservation in Print, Dec 2009/Jan 2010

Any homeowner who has spent hours pondering the perfect paint color can attest that new exterior paint brings dramatic results. To make a truly wise investment, however, historic homeowners should research more than paint colors. An inappropriate paint type applied to historic materials can lead to major damage behind a freshly painted facade. The following guide will explain the differences between historic and modern paint types and direct historic homeowners to exterior paint choices that will perform and protect as well as look good.

A site old house lovers are familiar with - multiple layers of incompatible paint compositions.

The purpose of exterior paint is two-fold. Both practical and pretty, paint protects building materials from the elements—namely moisture and slow deterioration of architectural and structural features. At the same time, exterior paint provides an attractive color scheme that emphasizes the architectural features it protects. Historic and modern paints serve the same purpose, but their different compositions determine how effective they are when applied over historic substrate.

Lime/water-based paints, also known as lime/whitewash, initially adorned historic stucco, masonry and occasionally wood facades. Composed of lime, water and natural pigments, limewashes expand and contract with historic stucco and masonry allowing the materials to freely take in and give off moisture and water vapor. This breathing process maintains moisture balance within the wall, protecting the structure from deterioration caused by trapped water. Unfortunately, less permeable later paint often replaces a traditional limewash coating, trapping water within the wall and causing deterioration of historic material and structural framing members.

Oil paint was traditionally composed of pigment mixed into a linseed oil base and applied primarily to wood and ironwork. Historic formulations included white or red lead but were banned from use in the mid 1970s due to health hazards. Modern oil paints contain a synthetic, alkyd binder instead of linseed oil. Often called alkyd paints, modern oil paints are suitable for historic materials.

Proper preparation and paint will protect ornamental metal from the elements for years.

Casein paint is composed of lime, pigment and purified milk protein (casein) and purified mil protein (casein) and often called milk paint. Traditionally an interior paint, it is not durable enough for exterior use.

Latex paint is a modern acrylic paint that became commercially available in the 1950s. The early formula consisted of small, pigmented rubber particles suspended in a water solvent, but are replaced today by rubber pigments. Most common in new construction, latex is often touted as the go-to paint for any home improvement project, but historic homeowners beware. While appropriate for wood siding, latex paint should not be used on historic stucco, masonry or cast iron. Latex paint is gas permeable, allowing moisture vapor only to penetrate the paint. As humidity levels fluxuate, trapped water will eventually force its way out of brick or stucco in an effort to move from an area of high moisture content to low moisture content. Latex paint hinders the natural and necessary movement of water through stucco and brick, resulting in damaged masonry beneath bubbling paint.

So there you have it, a primer (no pun intended) on both historic and modern paint types. To put all this paint knowledge into practice, here’s a handy list of common historic material paired with the paint types that are appropriate for each surface:

Montgomery’s favorite Arts and Crafts house has multiple surfaces: plain stucco, pebble-dash stucco and wood. So many paint issues!

Stucco, also known as exterior plaster, traditionally achieved its coloring from sand, the aggregate included in the mix. In the later 18th and early 19th centuries, natural pigments were added to the mix to broaden the range of colors. Stucco was often coated with limewash, which provided extra protection and a wider range of color options. During the early 20th century, cement was introduced into the traditional stucco mix. Upon the addition of this ingredient, oil and latex paint became appropriate coatings for modern stucco. Because of this evolving stucco recipe, it is important to have a good idea of the age and composition of the stucco on your house prior to painting. Limewashes are the only appropriate coatings for the 18th and 19th century stucco, while limewash, oil or latex paint may be appropriate for later, more modern mixes that include Portland cement. Repairs to historic stucco have often been previously painted with inappropriate modern paint. Often this modern paint will fail, making removal necessary prior to a new paint job. However, great damage can be done to the stucco when trying to remove an intact but inappropriate paint coating. Instead, if the coating and stucco is not failing, simply prime and repaint with a compatible paint type that will adhere to the existing top layer. A good rule of thumb for repainting any substrate is to always apply the weaker paint over the stronger paint or latex (weaker) over oil (stronger).

Historic brick has a range of porosity depending upon its age and source. Early brick structures in colonial Louisiana were usually covered with stucco and limewash. In 1794, after the second great fire in New Orleans, Spanish law required all timber and brick walls to be protected with one inch of plaster (stucco) coating. Later, as exposed brick walls became the fashion, harder northern bricks were imported from places such as Baltimore and Philadelphia. Shortly after 1830, a higher quality local brick, known as Lake brick, was produced north of Lake Pontchartrain, Lake brick was often left exposed on side and rear wall construction. Limewash remains the appropriate coating for historic brick today. As discussed above, latex paint seals moisture into a historic masonry wall, causing paint to blister and the brick to decompose as the water tries to escape. Latex paint is only appropriate for harder, modern brick fired after the turn-of-the-century and pointed with cement-based mortar.

Wood, like brick, absorbs and gives off water as humidity rises and falls, but has a greater vulnerability to water damage. Wood clapboard siding and wood fences were often whitewashed (like Tom Sawyer), but this is a labor-intensive and time-consuming method that requires yearly maintenance. Most homeowners today appropriately choose exterior latex or oil paint for their wood-clad homes. These modern paint types are both vapor permeable and flexible (oil less so than latex) and allow wood clapboards and architectural elements to expand and contract in our humid climate while protecting them from damaging UV rays. Don’t forget, when painting over existing paint layers, apply the latex (weaker) over oil (stronger) rule of thumb. If you are painting over existing latex, use a latex primer and topcoats. If you are painting over oil use an oil primer followed by oil or latex finish coats.

Sometimes even the toughest paint problem can't be solved. This is an example of multiple layers of paint beginning with an undetermined bottom layer that can't be broken down and removed. Even paint removal experts are puzzled!

Cast iron, when painted, is a strong and durable material, but when left unpainted or painted improperly, can quickly become weak and brittle. Early 19th century painting practices included priming cast iron in linseed oil and red lead paint. This traditional system prohibited rusting and formed a protective watertight film. The use of lead paint is now prohibited leaving modern paint formulas to finish the job. Alkyd enamel paints and alkyd rust-inhibitive primers are modern paints suitable for cast iron restoration and repainting. Zinc-rich primers and modern epoxy coatings are suitable for smaller, cast iron elements, but difficult to properly apply to large buildings or store fronts. Latex and other water-based paints can cause immediate rusting if applied on bare metal and should never be applied to cast iron.

The physical properties of historic materials dictate what paint type is appropriate, so take a look back at the above guide when you’re ready to tackle your next painting project. What a relief to know that’s one less decision you have to make. If only choosing a paint color were so easy.

Inappropriate Paint Types for Historic Houses

Waterproof coatings, including elastomeric paint, are not appropriate for soft, historic brick and plaster. Moisture will find a way into masonry walls and waterproof coatings will keep it from escaping. Trapped water builds pressure within the wall and will eventually force its way out through spalling (when the masonry surface pops off), exposing the masonry interior and inviting further damage and deterioration. If you are experiencing dust from your masonry, this is the mortar. Repointing, not waterproofing, is the solution to this problem.

Spalling has occurred when layers of incompatible paint smothered the brick and mortar. In this photo, the trapped moisture beneath is rebelling, breaking down the paint layers.

Water-repellent coatings are unnecessary treatments for historic masonry surfaces. Traditional treatments such as limewashes and stucco act as protective coatings that keep brick buildings in moisture balance. Water-repellent coatings can be difficult if not impossible to remove and may do more harm than good by decreasing the natural evaporation rate of the masonry wall.

Ceramic paint is a relatively new paint type. Developed for use on space shuttles and most successful on metal substrate, it has only recently entered the house-paint market. Also called insulating paint, ceramic paint is often promoted on the basis that you never have to paint again. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen. Ceramic house paint simply hasn’t been on the market long enough to truly evaluate its performance on wood siding. One thing is for certain; this elastomeric waterproof paint should definitely not be used on historic masonry or plaster.

To Scrape or Not to Scrape?

Before you take the extra time and effort to remove all existing layer of paint prior to a new paint job, assess the condition of your current colors. Unless paint is peeling or alligatoring (severe cracking that looks like reptile skin), complete paint removal is unnecessary and detrimental to the historic record of paint colors. You can easily remove dirt, mildew, chalking and staining from wood siding with water and gentle cleaners. Address more advanced problems such as blistering, wrinkling and spot peeling by removing paint only in the affected area. In the case of historic brick or stone where paint removal can be especially difficult, it is wise to consult a historic materials expert to conduct this task. Whether you’re touching up existing paint or repainting your entire house, proper preparation followed by sanding will add years to a paint job’s life.

Text by Megan Lord

Historic Building Recovery Grant Program

Office of Cultural Development

Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation

Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism

Office of the Lt. Governor, State of Louisiana

Carole King (not the singer, just the hummer) enjoys midtown living from South Capitol Parkway in Capitol Heights where she has lived for 25+years. Carole has been the historic properties curator for the Landmarks Foundation that manages Old Alabama Town for 28 years and is passionate about neighborhoods, their architectural character, their people, and their preservation!

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Montgomery’s Historic Neighborhoods

By Carole King

It’s finished, printed and headed our way! For those of you living inside the bypass loop, you may have seen or heard the appeals by Karren Pell and myself for older photographs of Montgomery’s historic neighborhoods. Karren Pell, better known as the Alabama Troubadour, completed a photographic history book of Tallassee last year for Arcadia Publishing who later contacted her and asked her if she had any other ideas for other books to be included in their Images of America series. You know the books…those sepia-toned photo books that serve as great souvenirs. Since we had just finished the 100th centennial celebration of the incorporation of Capitol Heights as a city, that neighborhood’s history was fresh in our minds. So she asked me if I would be interested in a venture featuring our local historic districts, and the decision was made to birth Montgomery’s Historic Neighborhoods, which is now a reality and on its way to a fine book retail source near you soon!

We set about surveying what photographic materials to which we thought we could get access. We viewed collections at local universities, churches, Montgomery County Historical Society, Archives and History, Landmarks Foundation, and private individuals. We did several presentations to neighborhood associations, wrote several articles and did the television and radio circuit. To narrow our search, the decision was made to include photographs of structures and people located in the neighborhoods with official historic designation. These areas included Capitol Heights, Centennial Hill, Cloverdale Idlewild, Cottage Hill, Garden District, Old Cloverdale, Old Line Street and a section on the early downtown neighborhood. However, we found more and more documentation on subjects outside of our original parameters. We became fascinated by the properties that were eliminated when the Interstate 85 and 65 dissected the city and the earlier neighborhoods. Many of these magnificent mansions were captured in the Art Works publications of 1894 and 1907 and several neighborhood areas exist in those images only today.

Photographs came trickling in and we were beginning to sweat as our publication deadline rapidly approached. A last-ditch effort interview with Carolyn Hutcheson at WTSUM with a wide listening radius opened the floodgates to many family photo albums and our chapters began coming together, finally. We spent hours upon hours scanning photos to the publisher’s specifications, interviewing family members and researching facts and figures. We mourned the photos with great stories that we had to turn our backs on because of poor print quality and the good quality photos that had no story we could tell.

This photo came in too late for the book but has good documentation penciled on the back. This is a view of “The Old Home” located at 3 Whitman Street in Cottage Hill in March 1905. Mollie, Mama, Ellen and Rebecca are standing out front. More research is yet to come to find out exactly who these ladies are.

We made lots of discoveries about the lifestyle of people during this age of emerging photography. More affluent women had access to cameras and took up photography as a hobby documenting their families, pets, events, homes, vacations and rites of passage and then documenting it all in scrapbooks. Unless they were professionally shot in a controlled studio situation, almost all photographs were taken outside until close to the middle of the 20th century with the development of the flash concept. And, last but not least, almost every family had a goat cart!

One of our better finds was an envelope of photos that was actually in the Landmarks collection with no real documentation other than the photos had been found in the trash. After our extensive work on the pageants in schools and neighborhoods we were able to recognize these photos as documenting the annual May Day ceremony at the Cottage Hill School once located on Herron Street.

Especially fun was spending time with the many folks who brought out family albums in hopes that there was something we could use in the upcoming book. They reminisced and we gave advice on better ways to conserve these family treasures in exchange for access to them.

We were limited to 200 photos with short captions and since we had actually acquired about 350 images, the task of determining what would and what would not appear in the publication was difficult. There were lots of late nights of pouring over images and urgent phone calls with questions to the photograph’s owner. After submitting the initial images and captions and waiting for long weeks, we received a laid out proof for our review. The teacher in Karren and the editor in me came out and we hit the proof hard with our red correction pens even as we added images acquired later.

Just this week we received our authors’ copies in the mail, so we know the book is printed and will be arriving soon. As the shipping date—July 19th—for the printed product nears, we hope these readers will keep a watch out for the upcoming scheduled book-signings at our local bookstores, gift shops and specialty stores. We know there will be mistakes, we know there will be corrections and we know we’ll get bombarded with “how come y’all didn’t ask me for my family scrapbook?” We hope the publication of Montgomery’s Historic Neighborhoods will bring awareness about the importance of preserving family photos and records for perpetuity and encourage the documenting of our everyday life thus creating memories for all of our midtown historic neighborhoods.

Carole King (not the singer, just the hummer) enjoys midtown living from South Capitol Parkway in Capitol Heights where she has lived for 25+years. Carole has been the historic properties curator for the Landmarks Foundation that manages Old Alabama Town for 28 years and is passionate about neighborhoods, their architectural character, their people, and their preservation!

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Rescued Relics

By Carole King

Preservation in Recycling Form!

As city budget cuts took their toll on our operations here at Old Alabama Town, we looked at innovative ways to produce income and become more involved with the preservation community. Several years ago, Landmarks Foundation initiated an innovative recycling historic preservation project called Rescued Relics to compliment our restoration efforts. While restoring and maintaining the 50 historic structures located at Old Alabama Town, many interior and exterior later-added components were removed to accomplish an authentic restoration on the house museums. These leftovers were just taking up space and collecting dust in out of the way storage places. We had heard about several salvage warehouses operated by non-profits on the east coast and starting investigating the possibilities.

Landmarks established Rescued Relics, a not-for-profit salvage business located in a still yet-to-be-restored vacant 1920s warehouse in an excellent storefront location on Madison Avenue, and yes, the roof still leaks. We began cleaning out our attics and warehouses for items to sell and now offer many historic architectural elements and materials from a variety of building styles and time periods to those who are working on other renovation projects around in the historic neighborhoods. Rescued Relics also frees up much space in our increasingly overcrowded municipal landfill.

We wanted to become more involved in the historic neighborhoods and provide a service to those living in Midtown. Without keeping regular store hours, we’ve had a sort of slow start, but we now have a commitment to Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays with two dedicated volunteers, Roger Ericson and Larry Grewelle. We’re looking for more volunteers to help us expand the operation even more — and it’s a great job for retired folks and those interested in home renovations (You get first chance at the incoming merchandise).

In its high profile location on Madison Avenue with the front doors open and welcoming, we have an increasing number of customers who were just curious about the warehouse itself, but everybody finds it hard to walk out without purchasing some fun piece of ironwork for your garden or that odd sized piece of marble you thought you would never find. Although our target market is historic homeowners, we have developed a customer following of creative and artsy folks just looking for inspiration and direction for that next project!

Rescued Relics also accepts pre-1960s building materials and elements from other contractors and do-it-your-self home renovators with tax-donations available to the extent of the law. All these funds raised are used to restore and maintain the historic structures at Old Alabama Town.

Rescued Relics’ inventory includes (but is definitely not limited to) assorted sink styles, doors, lighting fixtures, mantels, window sashes, balustrades and many other fun items that tickle our shoppers’ creativity!

As historic preservation is the ultimate recycling and salvage hunting is quickly approaching an art, we have included some handy tips below for those bargain hunters:

  1. Plan your renovation project but be prepared to make many changes.
  2. Start looking early for special accent architectural elements.
  3. Familiarize yourself with local building codes and obtain all necessary permits.
  4. Have access to a pickup truck.
  5. Keep a list of room measurements and of certain items for which you are searching.
  6. Create a file of magazine pictures and photos of projects that you’ve seen and liked.
  7. Carry a tape measure with you at all times.
  8. Don’t hesitate! That special item is one-of-a-kind and probably will be gone tomorrow.

Rescued Relics is conveniently located in historic downtown Montgomery at 423 Madison Avenue with plenty of parking adjacent. Call 334.240.4512 for the hours of operation or we can set up an appointment to see all of the really cool and fun items that we have that you never knew you really needed!

Carole King enjoys midtown living from South Capitol Parkway in Capitol Heights where she has lived for 25+years. Carole has been the historic properties curator for the Landmarks Foundation that manages Old Alabama Town for 28 years and is passionate about neighborhoods, their architectural character, their people, and their preservation!

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The Preserving Life

By Carole King

I thought a little beginning about how I fell in love with historic preservation would be in order.

I can’t remember a time I wasn’t aware of the world around me. In high school, after my friends and I got driver’s licenses we used to roam through neighborhoods just looking at all the houses and imagining ourselves grown up and homeowners — what color we would paint them, how we would arrange the furniture, what flowers we would plant. But it wasn’t until after college that this infatuation with older buildings actually got a name — historic preservation.

I went back to graduate school and began studying architectural styles, the preservation movement, museum issues — and I came back home to put the book-learning into action. I was most fortunate to meet Mary Ann Neeley, who gave me the opportunity to learn about Montgomery’s history and architecture and to assist with the many restoration and museum projects at the Landmarks Foundation. Under the vision of Jimmy Loeb and the Landmarks Foundation board, the Old North Hull Street Historic District grew and morphed into Old Alabama Town, which today houses 50 historic structures in a six block downtown area.

My initial job description included researching buildings and creating the historic interior spaces as museums, but as those of us working for non-profits know, every day brings something new, especially in the preservation world.

I discovered the older neighborhood of Capitol Heights and loved the convenience it afforded me to downtown (and the neighborhood property values fit my pocketbook). Along the way, I stumbled upon many other old house enthusiasts — Sandra Nickel and Marilyn Sullivan began an early historic neighborhood preservation group called Preserve Montgomery comprised of residents of Cottage Hill, Old Cloverdale, Garden District, Capitol Heights and Old Line Street District.

Through the decades, the residents of these historic homes — from antebellum raised cottages to mid-century ranches — have remained networked because of their shared interests and issues. These are the same folks who continue to promote and enjoy midtown living and its rich cultural and community events — the Capri Theatre, concerts in the Clovedale-Idlewild bottom park, the Capitol Heights By Candlelight Tour, the Old House Expo, the Greek Food Festival, and the Alabama Book Festival, just to name a few.

We’ve watched our property values soar, while we save and renovate threatened historic structures. The city’s new (tighter) historic designation ordinance regulates our neighborhoods’ character, while we re-green our streets with the efforts of the urban forester. Our locally owned businesses thrive and, oddly enough, folks are moving back into the midtown area from the eastern ‘burbs.

So, being a passionate bungalow-lover and tree-hugger, I look forward to this opportunity to promote midtown living and sharing the ups and downs of old house living!

Carole King (not the singer, just the hummer) enjoys midtown living from South Capitol Parkway in Capitol Heights where she has lived for 25+years. Carole has been the historic properties curator for the Landmarks Foundation that manages Old Alabama Town for 28 years and is passionate about neighborhoods, their architectural character, their people, and their preservation!

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Filed under Carole King, Historic preservation