I am an old house junkie. Working on older homes has always been far more enjoyable than tackling something that is just coming out of the ground and usually surrounded by a lake of red mud. Be honest with yourself and you will probably realize that there is an old house junkie lurking around in you as well. Would you rather work in a nice, tree-lined neighborhood where people are living and walking their dogs or would you want to work on streets lined with pick up trucks jockeying for the next open spot on a muddy lot that is barren of trees and littered with every type of construction material imaginable? It doesn’t take much creativity to see that the former trumps the latter in spades. So any time I see a group that wants to preserve, protect and promote these old neighborhoods and buildings, they get my support.
I am a proud, card-carrying member of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation (GTHP) and I think anyone who owns a house built before 1950 should be too. These are the people that see the value and wisdom in keeping our past intact when every developer east or west of the Nile would love to eradicate the old and put up another Tower of Babel. The only good old historic structure they want to see is a pile of bricks and rubble being hauled off to put up another nondescript repetitious symbol. I can look at the Atlanta downtown skyline and not see a single structure that has the personality or character of any five-story brick and limestone apartment building from the 1920s. Architecture has its limits and in my opinion, that limit usually stops around the tenth floor of most buildings.
This past weekend, I had a chance to spend some quality time around members of GTHP over in Madison, Ga. We did a clean up on an old piece of property that the Trust is trying to sell. A fellow named Frank and I filled up at least four 20 gallon trash cans with empty beer and vodka bottles from a transient resident who was not doing his liver any favors. Others moved piles of old clothing, vines wrapping around the exterior, hauled off rotting timber and boarded doors and windows. A lot of people would not see the point and would consider the work hopeless. Maybe they don’t know about Inman Park, Cabbagetown, Kirkwood, Whittier Mill or any number of old neighborhoods that had fallen on hard times only to rebound and present many with a unique and rich living opportunity. A lot of people see the same value in inner-city living today as those who did decades ago.
I am not against new construction or development but I do draw the line when someone puts a price tag on our history and whistles all the way to the bank. Some things are really worth fighting for and our history, heritage and old houses fall into that category. Hopefully, the work that was done in Madison this weekend will result in another old house junkie finding a place to roost. And if they do, you will probably see them out clearing and cleaning an old dump for the Trust somewhere in Georgia. Don’t miss out on all the fun. Go to their website and find out how you can help make sure our history stays part of our future.
Michael Purser | © Rosebud Co. 2016