Monday, July 15, 2013

Six Reasons & Gatsby

The title of this post might be if only they cared.  I am a Scott Fitzgerald groupie.  I'm sure that he would not find that particular reference attractive but it fits current usage.  I think.  I'm not always current on that vernacular.  I love Scott Fitzgerald.  I've mourned his life story.  I've stood outside the door of the room where he and Zelda used to stay at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville.  I love history and historic properties.  I served for many years on the Historic Preservation Commission here in my town.  I tried recently to get reappointed.  I suppose my application is still on file.  In the time since I stood on that committee too many old homes have been bulldozed here in this little burg.  It is happening far and wide.  I just read about this house and got a lump in my throat.  I did think surely there was more concern in the northern colonies.  Sadly, not for this one.

One would think that a home with an illustrious history would manage to dodge the wrecking ball.  This beach front property on Long Island, which is thought to be the inspiration for Daisy's home in Great Gatsby, was actually visited by Scott and Zelda who danced the night away on the veranda.  The veranda part is my imagination but they did attend the lavish and romantic parties of the twenties at this home.   
Apparently the owners, who paid 18 million at one time, left it to crumble and here is the result.

It breaks my heart.  No one stepped up?  Not even for those grand chimneys?  Granted, 18 million is rich but there's a lot of cash flow in that neck of the woods.

I discovered the site Preservation Journey just recently.  I found these reasons for preservation on their page.

                Six Reasons Why More Americans Should Care About Saving Old Homes

◾Because tearing them down is wrecking our history. Countries rich in culture value history and buildings. “In Italy and France, you see 300-year-old buildings housing subways,” she said. “They make them work, they don’t tear them down.”

◾Because it’s bad for our Earth. Most of the wreckage will not be salvaged. All that glass and plaster goes into landfills.

◾Because you can never replicate these houses once they’re gone. The woodwork alone came from 200-year-old trees. These homes were built before electricity, and were made by hand with handmade nails.

◾Because we don’t need new homes. “We have enough vacant homes to put everyone in America in a house,” said Curtis. “We need to take care of what we have.”

◾Because we’re losing our uniqueness. “There is something beautiful about traveling through America and seeing its distinct neighborhoods. Houses that get torn down and rebuilt erase that character.”

◾Because of their quality. “When you have a 100-year-old home made of timbers not particle board, it is solid. These homes have withstood decades of human life and natural disasters. But not city commissions and other self interests.”

The quotes are from Marni Jamison who had written about the potential destruction of the historic Capen House in Winter Park, Florida.  If the Google page on Capen House is any indication, a lot of people care about that one.  Plenty of bickering and dickering and red tape but like "Charlie on the MTA" its fate is still unknown.

As of yesterday, a museum hopes to move it to another site.  It is so lovely just where it is but if it moves it will leave a mile long trail of red tape.  Damn red tape.  


  1. To add to the list above... If you have millions to purchase this "wreck" you have the 100's of thousands to salvage the contents and design your new structure (it takes the love of a family to make it a home) reusing most of the pieces and donating the leftovers.

    The U.S. has a growing interest in buying salvaged architecture at every level of investment. William Randolf Hearst may have been the wealthiest and one of the earliest to import european elements. Today there are advertising and editorial pages devoted to the resellers and decorators offering and using salvage in every design magazine.

    Too bad that the U.S. born salvaged architecture is still mainly from our old barns. And much of this is being shipped overseas!

    Our 30+ year old home has a front door from Argentina (nearly 100 yrs old), a pair of old painted mahogany courtyard doors from Mexico we installed between the dinning & living rooms, and vintage chandeliers from resale shops. Try it. You'll like it! :-)

  2. Linda,

    Hearst had purchased some of the paneling from the house I wrote about recently. He never used it and it became part of a movie set. My current home is a cottage that was built by the greens keeper at the nearby golf course in the 1950's. It has been totally renovated inside and a big porch added across the back but we maintained the original structure. Good bones. Good boards. Believe me, I'm into salvage. I encourage it in all my design work. I often encounter people who don't want 'old' but I can sometimes convince them if I find just the right piece. I work at it.


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