Thinking about preserving, renovating, or restoring your historic Nashville home? Now’s the time. At Stratton Exteriors, we’ve had a hand in our share of home additions, renovations, and new construction projects but we have a big soft spot for historic preservation and restoration. The time is ripe for fixing up your old home and keeping Nashville unique.
In an interview with Historic Nashville, Mayor Megan Barry said “Our history is what helps to define the character of our city, and once it is lost, you can’t get it back. We need to be cognizant of that fact whenever new construction threatens to erase that history and do a better job of incorporating preservation into our growth strategies.”
We couldn’t agree more! With that in mind, we’ve come up with a few great reasons to preserve your historic home or commercial property.
Old Homes and Historic Buildings Have Value
Older buildings, particularly those built before World War II are typically built with higher-quality materials such as rare hardwoods (birdseye maple, quartersawn oak, and heart woods, for example) or woods for old-growth forests that have long since been cut down. Older homes and properties are often built to a different, higher standard and feature thicker walls and sturdier structural beams.
When You Tear Down a Building, It’s Gone Forever
Please forgive us for stating the obvious, but you can’t un-tear down a building once it has been demolished. It’s gone forever.
It’s worth noting that what is now an eyesore may actually be an architectural treasure trove full of hidden delights. Many older buildings have suffered over the years at the hands of shoddy reconstruction and ill-advised renovations. You’ll never know what you’ll find under the orange shag carpeting, paneled walls, and floating acoustic ceiling panels. You may discover gorgeous hardwood floors, pristine plaster, and tin-lined ceilings.
Many Customers, Employees, and Homeowners Prefer Historic Buildings
It’s true! Many business owners and homebuyers actually prefer old buildings. They’re warm, lived-in, inspiring, and have a history that’s almost tangible. They provide talking points, provoke curiosity, and promote creativity. Furthermore, they pay tribute to the American past while respecting our future.
Old Buildings Remind us of Nashville’s Past
The National Trust for Historic Preservation sums this one up perfectly, “By seeing historic buildings―whether related to something famous or recognizably dramatic―tourists and longtime residents are able to witness the aesthetic and cultural history of an area. Just as banks prefer to build stately, old-fashioned facades, even when located in commercial malls, a city needs old buildings to maintain a sense of permanency and heritage.”
The Aura of an Old Building is Undeniable
There are a set of ideas, first advanced by Walter Benjamin in the 1930s in his oft-cited work Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, that the “aura” of a work of art is devalued or disintegrates when it has been mechanically reproduced. It’s pretty undeniable, for example, that a postcard of the Mona Lisa is far less striking than the Mona Lisa herself, as seen at the Louvre.
We think the same concept holds true for historic properties as well. While modern Craftsman bungalow reproductions are simultaneously gorgeous and state-of-the-art, the look and feel (the aura, if you will) of an original Craftsman with its sturdy hardwood, built-in cabinets, hammered metalwork, and artisan tile simply cannot be recreated using modern methods and materials.
Preserving Your Historic Home is Good for Your Neighborhood
Nashville is a city of Neighborhoods. From Sylvan Park to the west, Germantown to the north, Waverly to the south, and to Lockeland Springs in the east, Nashville boasts a variety of architectural styles that are quintessentially American. Some of the city’s popular styles include Craftsman, Foursquare, Antebellum, Bungalow, Cape Cod, Colonial Revival, Modern, Tudor, Cottage, Queen Anne-inspired Victorians, and Mid-Century Modern. In fact, one of the many things that makes Nashville such a unique place to live is that our city draws from so many incredible architectural styles!
When we choose to preserve a historic home, we’re promoting a respect for those who lived and loved before us and we are laying the foundation for the generations that will come after us. We are the stewards of our neighborhoods. Restoration improves property values, reduces vacancies, spurs future rehabilitation, and connects people to the community.
Historic preservation protects the identities of our unique Nashville neighborhoods while improving property values.
Historic Preservation is Good for the Environment
Talk about recycling! Preserving an old home or building keeps material out of the landfill and minimizes the use of new materials. Not only that, but think of all the energy that’s saved when an old home is restored! There’s no need to excavate, manufacture or transport bricks, glass, steel, and wood when you’re preserving the bones of an existing building.
Fortunately for sustainably-minded homeowners, many old homes are innately “green” with covered porches, old-growth landscaping, thick walls, and attics and cellars that help maintain comfortable interior temperatures.
The EPA puts its stamp of approval on “smart growth” and preservation and notes that rehabilitation of a property promotes energy efficiency by preserving energy already invested in a property (known as “embodied energy”). “A new, green, energy-efficient office building that includes as much as 40 percent recycled materials would nevertheless take approximately 65 years to recover the energy lost in demolishing a comparable existing building.” The agency goes go on to note that repurposing old buildings reduces the need for construction of new buildings and the consumption of land, energy, and materials.
Preserving Historic Homes is Great for the Economy
When a home or historic building is restored, more jobs are created and more dollars are pumped into the local economy. Since restoration is more labor-intensive than new construction, highly skilled carpenters and craftspeople are in demand. Historic preservation results in higher-paying skilled jobs. Additionally, more materials and services are sourced locally, which only increases the local economic impact.
Historic Preservation is More Cost-Effective Than You Think
Not only is preservation good for the environment, economy, and our neighborhoods, but there are many incentives available through federal, state, and local programs. To learn more, visit the Historical Commission’s website.
Thinking about restoring your historic home or purchasing a historic property in need of a little TLC? We’d love to help. Contact Stratton Exteriors to learn more about our historic preservation and historic renovation work.