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This Saturday! Meet Baltimore’s historic homeowners and learn new ways to help your house

This Saturday, we are partnering with Retrofit Baltimore and Live Baltimore to host our very first historic homeowner social. Stop by Second Chance anytime from 10:00 am to 11:30 am to enjoy coffee, donuts, and answers to all your questions about weatherization, historic tax credits, and home buying in Baltimore City.

This event is also your first chance to sign up for the 2015 Baltimore Historic House Co-op. The co-op is a way for homeowners to save money on weatherization services through Retrofit Baltimore. For each home-owner who signs up before April 25 and pledges to complete their project by the fall, Retrofit’s contractors are offering a 1% discount – up to a 15% discount for everyone who participates. Learn more about the benefits of weatherization for historic properties or sign up for the Historic House Co-op today.

This new partnership is just one of many new resources that we’ve put together for historic home-owners over the past few months. Check out new or recently updated resources including:

We even have a new resource guide just for homeowners – a growing online toolkit  for the thousands of home-owners who preserve historic neighborhoods. If you have questions or suggestions for how we can help historic homeowners in Baltimore, please get in touch. And don’t forget to join us at Second Chance on Saturday morning!

Registration now open for Bmore Historic unconference and a game jam with THATCamp Games

Do you work at a museum or library? Volunteer for your neighborhood design review committee or preservation commission? Teach history at a local public school or college? Then we invite you to join us for Bmore Historic unconference at the Maryland Historical Society on Friday, October 10!

Bmore Historic is a unique opportunity to connect with students, scholars and professionals in public history and historic preservation for discussions, workshops and creative presentations on the issues that you care about.

How do we know you will like Bmore Historic? Because you set the agenda! Bmore Historic is an unconference where participants work together to propose the topics, set the schedule and facilitate the sessions throughout the day. An unconference is an alternative to a typical professional or academic conference where the schedule is set months in advance. Participants share session ideas online before the event and the schedule isn’t set until morning of October 10. Session leaders are encouraged to facilitate a conversation, not deliver a PowerPoint presentation! Registration is only $10 for students and $15 for professionals including breakfast and lunch.

Bmore Historic is also a great opportunity to build skills thanks to volunteer-led workshops running throughout the day. We are currently planning  workshops on topics including managing digital archives and new approaches to engaged scholarship. Please let us know if there is a topic, skill or tool you want to see included.

This year, we’re especially excited to share a fun program for anyone interested in exploring the intersections of history, education, and games: the Bmore Historic Game Jam. The game jam will be a lively and experimental dive into the potential of games to bring history to life in new ways organized in partnership with THATCamp Games – an unconference on humanities, technology, games, and learning taking place at the Baltimore Harbor Hotel on October 11-12. We will also be given bet credits for william hill for those interested on sports betting.

View of the Battle Monument, John Rubens Smith (1775-1849), 1828. Courtesy Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ds-01545.

Learn more about Bmore Historic 2014 or get in touch with questions or suggestions. Registration for Bmore Historic and THATCamp Games is now open so sign up soon!

Baltimore’s Old House Stories: Missing Baseboards and a Bolton Hill Brownstone

Thanks to Margaret De Arcangelis, Education & Outreach Director with Preservation Maryland for sharing the story of her historic Bolton Hill rowhouse and the adventure of starting an exciting restoration project.

Margaret's Old House

I came across a tweet the other day and could not help but smile: “It’s funny what makes you happy as a home owner.  I have baseboards.  Yeah!!! J”

As someone who has always enjoyed visiting old houses and loves learning about architecture, I always thought baseboards were great. It was not until this summer, however, when my husband and I bought our first house, that I truly appreciated the value of a well-placed baseboard. This appreciation is largely due to the fact that some of our baseboards, plaster, banisters and light fixtures are missing and I can only dream of the day when they will all be back in place.

Christopher and I did not buy a move-in ready starter house like many people do.  Instead Chris has lovingly followed me into what may be my most hare-brained (but wonderful!) idea yet.  We bought a true fixer-upper – an 1886 brownstone in Bolton Hill that needs more repair work than I have  space to list in this short post.  Like so many of the houses in that neighborhood, a prior owner subdivided the house into apartments leaving vestiges of long abandoned kitchens and bathrooms on each floor. Numerous walls were damaged when temporary walls were built and later torn down. Unlike many others rowhouses in Bolton Hill, however, our house remained in the hands of just one family from the 1880s to the 1950s (thank you MD Land Records for providing that fun fact!) and much of the original detail remains intact down to the stylish patterned parquet floors. Much of wood work including our 45 wood windows is covered by only one or two coats of paint and, despite a few missing pieces, the original stained glass transoms are in place and can be repaired.

After searching for the right house for ten months, I knew this was the perfect house for us the first time I saw it. There are so many beautiful details throughout the house that would be impossible or at least cost prohibitive for us to have in any other house. Some days the house does present challenges. The first few times it rained we found a new leak each time. We discovered that the duct tape on one of the sewer lines in the basement was not covering up a small crack in the pipe, but instead was put there to cover the ten inch by two-inch gouge in the pipe. We learned that sometimes the scope of a project changes midway through due to unforeseen circumstances, which may mean you need to remove a 100-year-old piece of Lincrusta from the wall so the plumbers can run new water lines. No matter what the new issue is with our house, all of those feelings of frustration go away each time I go to unlock the front door and am reminded how lucky I am to own such a beautiful old house.

We’re looking for more “old house stories” along with resources, tips and tricks you can share with other old house owners in Baltimore. Join the conversation on Facebook with Baltimore’s New Old House Forum or get in touch with Eli Pousson at pousson@baltimoreheritage.org

Resource: Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings

Sustainability is a critical issue in architecture, design and planning and while we believe “the greenest building is built” we support the many home-owners and property owners who are seeking new ways to improve the efficiency and sustainability of their historic homes, apartment buildings, factories, and Main Street properties.

Thanks to the Technical Preservation Services with the National Park Service we now have an accessible and easy-to-use guide that can help historic property owners make important decisions about everything from weatherization to wind-power. The Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings offer practical guidelines with dos and don’ts on how to retrofit your home or business for sustainability. Projects that can follow these guidelines may also be eligible for state or federal historic tax credits.

Site Features—Sustainability Guidelines—Technical Preservation Services, National Park Service

You can find the Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings online or download a PDF copy of the 2011 printed version of the guidelines. If you are interested in learning more about combining historic preservation and weatherization, please join us later this month for our latest introductory workshop with Retrofit Baltimore on May 29.

Weatherization, Retrofit Baltimore

Historic tax credits and weatherization workshop in Roland Park on May 29

 Join us for another free introductory workshop with Retrofit Baltimore on combining weatherization and historic tax credits for your next home rehabilitation project.

Introduction to Weatherization and Historic Tax Credits

Does your old house feel a bit too hot in the spring and summer? You may want to consider weatherizing your home to improve its comfort and efficiency while saving money with historic tax credits at the same time. Join Baltimore Heritage and Retrofit Baltimore for a free one-hour workshop where you will learn more retrofitting your historic home for energy efficiency.

We’ll also tell you how to use city and state historic tax credits for weatherization or other home rehabilitation projects. If you are a home-owner in Roland Park, Homeland, Ednor Gardens, Original Northwood, or another of the over 70 historic districts across the city, historic tax credits can help you with the cost of essential home maitenance and rehab projects from re-painting to re-pointing – even furnance replacement or roof repairs. Take a look at our resource page on historic tax credits for more background then register and come to our workshop on May 29, 6:30pm to 7:30pm.