WHAT IS HISTORIC ANYWAY? WHEN IS OLD JUST OLD AND WHEN IS IT “HISTORIC?”
What is a historic building anyway? When is an old building just old and worn out and when is it “historic” and worthy of preservation?
Think of it like this. An old building might need everything stripping out and starting again. The paint might be peeling, the carpets might be worn and the electrics might be shot. An electrician (search “Barnett Electrical: electric panel upgrade” if you need one) can replace all of the electrics for you, transforming an old building into a modern one full of swish tech and bright lights. Historic buildings, on the other hand, might have peeling paint, worn carpets and dangerous electrics, but none of it should be removed. Instead, the fabric and structure should be restored and preserved for future generations to experience. Historic buildings can’t and shouldn’t be modernised – they can be made safe and sound, but they can never be modern.
Often, a building’s historic status comes down to what historians and preservationists think. A conservation officer will also look at a building to determine if it’s worthy of keeping. Fifty years, for example, is often considered a milestone for a house to be considered historic in the US, but in Europe and Asia, fifty years is considered relatively new, so it entirely depends on historical context.
You can also have “historic” buildings that are not worth saving, making the definition of historic harder to define. This may be due to their state of disrepair, where an old building has been left to rot and is so badly damaged it wouldn’t be worth the money needed to restore it.
If you believe yourself to be in the possession of a historic home, it’s a good idea to protect it as best as you can. Visit https://www.pestcontrolexperts.com/termite-control/ or another similar pest controller to ensure that your home is free of pests like termites that can completely destroy the structure of the building. You should also eradicate damp at the first sign of moisture to prevent mould growth, which can have similar effects to termites. Also, remove trees that are too close, or their roots could damage the foundations and the branches could fall on the roof in high winds. Older homes often require more care and attention, but if you can keep it in good repair then you’ll soon have a historic gem on your hands.
Join Historic Nashville Inc. to find out more about what it means to live in historic buildings and Nashville’s historic neighborhoods.
Melissa Wyllie of Historic Nashville presented this topic at the Old House Fair in Nashville on 3/8/2014. Click the following link to view her presentation!