Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What's a preservation gal to do? Let me tell ya.

I've been catching some heat lately from folks wondering why I haven't updated my blog. And no wonder. It's been more than a month since I last posted.

So this post explains why I haven't posted. I'm also going to attempt to answer the oft asked question: "So what is it that you do?" My usual answer is that my career doesn't fit well into a sound bite. Here's why.

By the end of this week, I will have finished researching, writing, photographing and creating a site plan for a National Register of Historic Places nomination for a district of homes dating from the 1850s to the 1920s in Edinburgh, Indiana. Once I'm finished drafting it I will drop it off at the Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology for a series of reviews.

Right now I'm also working on several other projects. One of them is a regular gig. I serve as the preservationist/professional staff for the Meridian Street Preservation Commission. The commission was created by a state law in the 1970s and is appointed by the governor. I am the MSPC's first staff preservationist. In that I capacity work with applicants who want to make exterior changes to their homes within the district. The district includes Meridian Street generally from about 39th to about the canal, and also parts of Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Delaware streets. This month I have five projects to look at, meet with applicants for, try to work out any issues that raise red flags in terms of preservation and write recommendations for or against.

By April 10 I'll have written my next month's History 301 column for the "Urban Times." I often don't have the topic for that one figured out much more than a day or two in advance but I think May's column will be about the Wonderland Amusement Park that once stood on E. Washington Street.

I'm working on a research/writing project for an Indianapolis engineering/environmental firm. This work is for a federally funded project in southern Indiana near a ranch house subdivision from the 1950s. I will be researching and writing a history of the town and of ranch house development in the nation in order to see how this particular development fits into a greater historic context.

By April 22 I'll submit text and photos of an article on Avriel Shull and her architecture to the Recent Past Preservation Network.

In April, I'll attend the Indiana State Board of Review quarterly meeting to speak on behalf of the National Register nomination I wrote for Avriel Shull's Thornhurst Addition in Carmel. If all goes well, Indiana may soon have a Mid-Century Modern Historic District on the National Register!

I have an article on Shull coming out in the Spring Issue of "Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History". And yesterday I met with a graphic arts design firm that's asked me to write the text and select the illustrations for an artsy little booklet on her. And speaking of Avriel, I'm working with Historic Landmarks Foundation on a presentation about Avriel Shull's architecture that will be part of their fall offerings.

By the end of April I'll finish researching and writing a National Register nomination for Fire Station 32 in Broad Ripple. And I'll have put together a package for a neighborhood that needs a consultant to help with appropriate rehabilitation and renovation. I'll be helping those who are interested choose exterior house colors, light fixtures, appropriate doors, and wall cladding and even landscape plants and plans to return their early 20th century neighborhood to a more period-appropriate look.

In early May I'll finish researching and writing a National Register nomination for the Willis Mortuary, a great Arts and Crafts Era building important in the African American history of Indianapolis.

That's kinda what I do. At least that's some of what I've been working on and will be working on for the next month or so. And it's why I don't have time to write a blog post right now.