16 Responses

  1. Lana Bonomo

    Past is prologue
    American builders of the 18th and 19th centuries ideas of building with unlimited resources has, within 200 years become radically changed now that the Unites States is becoming a ‘closed to development’ nation. Today we can’t even fathom the opportunities set before our ancestors. To have resources at hand and an abundance of available land to build on was part of the American dream. Today we can only see expansion in small increments as the edge of a town grows further into what was once farmland. Or as homes once within a housing district become small business.

    The Bicentennial celebration made many people more aware of the importance of preserving our nation’s history. Add to that the limited space, rise of building materials, and a move toward a greener environment and our stage has been set for conscientious preservation.

    “The past is prologue” quote becomes obvious when visiting historic buildings. To get a first hand look at how people of the time lived can enrich our lives. We compare our lives to theirs, discover new ways to think about materials and become inspired to use what we see in some way. We should want to emulate our ancestors and “meet the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987, p. 43). This is the definition of sustainability which guided their choices in where and how to build.

    A personal example of sustainability comes from my tour of the Rossetter house. The first thing I noticed when entering the house was that the porch ceiling was blue. I had heard from many television gardening and home shows that a blue ceiling can fool the wasps into thinking it is the sky. The wasps then move on to another location. That year I painted my porch ceiling blue. Over the next six months I noticed many spiders but no wasp nests which had previously been a problem for me. This simple yet ingenious idea kept our ancestors (and me)free from these pests without the use of chemicals.
    1. Lorusso, Lesa. “IND2150 Ch1 Powerpoint Notes,” Why Preservation Course IND2150. Brevard Community College, Melbourne, FL
    2. World Commission on Environment and Development. (1987). The Brundtland report: Our common future. Oxford: Oxford University Press. UN Documents. NGO Committee on Education. .

    1. Kathleen Miron

      I think even though we’re seeing more ‘closed to development’ areas we will get small development areas with different limits and standards. If we don’t restore these historic homes in the proper manor to last and keep them standing we won’t be able to learn from them. We have progressed to the current and now introducing building green for the environment and preservation of these houses.

  2. Catherine Biegler

    When taking that the past is prologue we also realize that preserving the history of a structure is important. In todays society were everything is made to be consumable; used and discarded, looking at the past to see how thing were built gives us clues to what our society is lacking. I do not see the same amount of pride in the workmanship that was seen during the early years of the united states. When we realize that reusing and recycling is that way to go we will improve the way society thinks about it’s history.

    We need to preserve our past. The structures of previous generations teach future generations what works and what doesn’t. I feel that if we are able to preserve the structures and maintain them we are giving a gift to future generations. We are sharing our knowledge. Then those generations will, with some luck, not make the same mistakes and also expand upon what we have left.

    Architecture of the past showed common sense in it’s design. Examples of this are seen with the arrangement doors and windows to create a cross breeze of air flow and covered porches to offer shade to the interior living spaces. This was something that worked well, but was lost in some structures once air conditioning became readily available. If this was fully utilized today our electric consumption would be less and we would not be “energy hogs”.

    As a society we need to repair and preserve our older structures. We need new construction to be sustainable and have pride in the workmanship. If we want our new construction to last for generations, we must learn from the past to see what has worked before.

    Society has made great strides in historical preservation in the last 100 years. But I feel that we need to get to younger generations involved in the process. This way they will be better prepared to continue what has already been started.

  3. Sebastien Piquemal

    In the past the builders were much more intelligent about designing buildings according to their physical location. Theses builders were careful of the climate, the elevation, the insects and other specific features of the location where they were making the building. Just like you mention in your blog it was not marketing, but just logic. In addition as the result of this logic it was sustainable.
    I have observed that in other part of the world. For example in France, the house in the mountains have a very pointy roof for the snow not too attach it s self and make the building cold. Also the windows are very small to limit the cold access. In another place in Mexico the houses were made of stucco, which is a very fresh material. This is very good material for hot weather. There the windows were very large, and sometimes there were not any windows because they didn’t even make walls for the reason to live great ventilation. I visited a house in the mountain in Mexico was missing one entire wall and it had no need of air conditioning because of the natural ventilation.
    Builders should work with their clients to help them understand what is sustainable construction because I am sure most people will agree to make buildings that respect the nature. The future residential or commercial construction should be made with the same respect of the environment and features of location. As well just as you said in your blog it also coasts less to reuse, renovate and recycle then to start from zero.

    1. Kathleen Miron

      We need to keep the history of the original structure and remember the environment back then was not the same as today. We’ve created problems and we are now building green and I think we should restore green as well.

  4. Clair Brown

    We have not only learned a lot from the past as it relates to our built environment and preservation but we constantly mirror certain concepts such as material selections, design and sustainability. Exterior walls, windows, roofs and subfloor materials are weather resistant for a particular region. Decades of architectural designs have been adapted and in some cases entire communities and even cities still reflect designs that originated from European, Colonial American, Greek, Roman, Japanese and Mid-Century, etc. Historic preservation is means for communicating good design and material selection that futures communities can continue to learn those historical attributes and make durable material selection and build strong structures.
    There are grant monies available in qualifying areas of Florida to assist with historical restoration efforts. “Florida’s Bureau of Historic Preservation, an office of the Division of Historical Resources, administers two grant programs that support historic preservation projects. Preservation may include identifying historic and archaeological sites, excavation, protection and rehabilitation. The bureau conducts programs to encourage historic preservation efforts in rural areas and in small cities. Appropriate projects include building rehabilitation or stabilization, surveying and planning, and other work performed to support restoration projects.”(Florida)

    Preservation gives us historical facts that help shape our current and future communities. When we learn for example, about structures in Florida that with stood years of storms and hurricanes with minimal damage and flooding, it aids in material and building selection. When we preserve structures like this we can build on the same principles that are lasting.

  5. Jamie Goodwin

    Homes of the past can and do teach us so many lessons, such as orientation, design, lasting ability, and sustainability. Some of these lessons tend to be forgotten in today’s fast-paced society. We often want so many things in such little time. We are incredibly demanding and as a society we are way too impatient which has slowly impacted our way of life. I do believe that we are slowly gearing our minds towards better living. I think that many people are realizing that bigger is not always better and that if you rush things and cut corners that you become bothered by flaws in function. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go but have made excellent strides with programs such as historical preservation and LEED design. I feel that the largest difference between the way homes were built in the past compared to the way in which they are built in current times is purpose. Folks of the past did not have the luxury of an abundance of electricity like we do today. This made them have to get to know their environment and local surroundings much more closely in order to suite their lifestyles. They knew that a home was built in order to protect themselves and their belongings and every effort during a build suited this reason. In today’s much different society we tend to build homes to prove a status symbol or to impress others. We often neglect important factors such as weather, local supplies, and hand-craftsmanship.

  6. Kathleen Miron

    Historic houses hold lessons for us to follow. They tell us what designs worked at that time but not today, or maybe they still do. Some materials were easily accessed then and proved functional and strong but not economical today. Construction had to change through the years with the environment , availability of materials and cost.
    In the past it was the need vs the want as the nation became stronger it soon turned around to the want vs the need when building a house.
    Building a home 100,200 years ago the concern was primarily the need for a dwelling and its design of proper function for lifestyle and the climate. Then materials became more available and cost was reasonably affordable. The want of options and custom designs were on the rise. Now we have the need to be green. We’re trying to introduce environmentally safe products and building materials.
    Aware of using green materials to restore historic homes is now on the table. Making these puzzle pieces fit together is imperative to preserving our history of houses. today cost is always an issue. I think it is very important to preserve a certain amount of historic houses in every town. You will be able to see and learn just how far back in time people had lived there. It should give you that pride to thrive in that town and build in it. We are able to see the progress of life and continue it, perhaps in the green.

  7. Alison Carver

    I am proud of the developments and achievements our current society is making in the realm of historic preservation efforts. It has taken far too many years for our popular American attitude of “bigger is better”, and our mentality of limitless resources, to turn its self around and for us to open our eyes to the fact that it’s not only irresponsible, but also dangerous. It is becoming more and more necessary to redevelop current properties and structures simply because we are running out of room to continue expanding. Although I think we have come a long way in establishing laws and designations for historical establishments to either limit or encourage renovation projects, I feel there is still quite a large span between new builds and “historic” projects not being addressed. There was a very large surge of fast, cheap, and “short term” expansion projects in the late 1900’s and early 2000’s in the residential markets that are falling into this gap. Large development firms were selling, what I refer to as “prefab dreams”, by farming out subpar, mass produced starter homes, with the promise of bigger and better after just a few short years. The idea wasn’t to build a home to last, just something that would get you buy for a solid 5-10 year plan. Now, many of these homes are finding themselves in disrepair, but without either, enough years or significance to warrant any historical status, the financial burden of renovating and bringing up to code is quite daunting. I think we could help fill in this gap by offering further incentives to individuals to encourage renovating these homes rather than demolishing them and wasting valuable resources in rebuilding new ones. Tax credits, lower interest rates, broader “grandfathering” practices regarding codes are just a few examples of programs that could be established to encourage new homebuyers to direct their interest into homes that might have previously been seen as a waste.

  8. Chelsea Pushman

    The past is prologue quote by Shakespeare can be used not only in the sense you are discussing but in how people can learn from their past and progress into the future of their life. It is unfortunate that we do not see the lesson until after we make the mistakes. We do not see the good until the bad. It usually takes a catastrophe for any of us to wake up and realize it is time to start living.

    This goes hand in hand with our world today. The land our founding fathers and early settlers once knew is not the same today. The abundant resources that were available back then are slowly diminishing today. Water, food, oil, fuel, and steel, their prices are going higher and higher along with their scarcity. Because of this we have seen the “GO GREEN” movement emerge within the last 10 years. More and more businesses have been trying to make moves by going green and showing the public they are doing “the right thing.” But are they? Is it just to show the public that they are “jumping” on the green wagon to gain their approval and earn their money? Do you honestly think it is because they want to do “good” for the environment?

    The above statement is the reason why society has not caught up with the concept of sustainability fast enough. We are running into a brick wall and are now being forced to look at the past to rebuild and reinvent sustainable ventures. Preservation is a great way however, I think as a whole society does not look at preservation as a way to go green. That doesn’t matter unfortunately. People want to see more business related Green items such as products, methods of producing, cars, gas….all that is going to save them money! But of course for realtors, on the contractor side of things, real estate has changed. It makes much more sense now to just redesign a building and change it a little built rather than tear it down and build from the bottom up. Again, the cost of our limited resources has gone up, forcing us to change the way we live or do business. But we can’t deny that money drives the changes.

  9. Brandon

    The past is prologue is by every means true. Unfortunately there’s no such thing as an unlimited amount of something. With the way things are now in our time period, people need to start paying closer attention to how things are utilized because most likely we are going to run out of it quicker than most people may think. Going back to the original saying the past is prologue definitely helps us to remember that having history to look back on will show us a path for how to cope with not having certain things. This does not relate to architecture directly but lets imagine one day all electricity stopped working (Revolution style like the show) it doesnt mean that we are all doomed because there was a time in the past where this is what they delt with so it serves as something to build off of. Same thing goes for houses. long long ago before computers could aid in the creation of buildings, masterpeices were still made proving that history is definitely something you could learn from.

  10. Daniel MacLeod

    “The past is prologue” is nearly as much of a guarantee in society as death itself. Kids wonder why we study history throughout our school years and learn what the people and society before our generation did what they did and why they did it. Simply because “the past is prologue”, and if you do not learn the history you are doomed to repeat it. Although the past has had great innovations and ideas that we still use today, the past has also set our society up for the situation we are in now. Past generations believing that there will always be unlimited resources and that we can just continue to advance without any sort of consequence. Obviously we know that this is not true, and are suffering because of the past generations and their reckless advancement. So that is what today’s society must take from that, that no matter what, everything comes to an end and we can not just think that we will always have that one thing to depend on because it will end. So in the means of sustainability in architecture, we need to use the buildings that were in built in the past to be sustained. The best way to keep a healthy environment and sustain the environment, is to improve the buildings that are already in the ground! Now that may be impossible to do for some of the buildings that are crumbling as we speak, but there are plenty abandoned buildings that are perfectly capable to being brought to modern technology and be a modern commercial or residential building.

  11. Melanie McAboy

    This is perhaps my favorite article you have written so far. One of the most important things I learned this semester was that the most sustainable buildings come from existing buildings. It is more sustainable to make your buildings last as long as they can rather than knocking them down and rebuilding every few years. It seems like a simple concept but it actually isn’t one that is obvious to everyone. As we continue to progress, we must not forget to utilize resources that are the least harmless to the environment first. I agree with this article whole heartily, and feel that we can find many answers from looking at what we have done in the past. I’m going to have to check out some of the homes you mentioned someday. They sound very interesting! I have been wondering the difference between sustainable design and green design for a while now. I’m glad you clear this up in your article because there is a clear difference between the two. One is more focus on the well-being of the environment and the other is focused more on the well-being of the human. Historically speaking, I find it fascinating that humans have had this shift in awareness. There was a time in which people believed we had an abundant amount of oil until the peak oil theory came out, and then oil crisis in 1973. Shakespeare was right; history teaches us so much that we can incorporate in to our systems of the future.

  12. Tiffiny Ruehman

    This blog really speakes to the heart of me and the reason why I really wanted to do interior design. I whole heartedly believe that we have plenty of buildings both residential and commercial that may just need some tlc to become great again. In order for us to start living sustainable and green lives we must take a hard look at the consequences of new builds. Even if you completely tear down in most cases it cost more to rebuild than to reuse.
    I know HGTV is sometimes looked down upon by our industry, but one of my favorite shows is “Rehab Addict”. What I love about the show is the designer not only fixes old homes, she also reuses items she finds along the way (reclaimed wood from other projects, dumpster dives, andother thrifty cool means). I am truly Iinspired by this. I realize it is hard work and it takes a lot of searching, but in the end it is well worth it not only for the building, but for the enviornment also.
    I personally don’t always believe new is better. I do believe that progression should be made where it is available and non-harmful. If architecture is done right it should stand the test of time as long as it properly maintained. If we reuse and recycle whar we can, we will benefit from this in huge ways for everyone. I get very annoyed when I see land being cleared out to build new commercial buildings, and watch them sitnot being used. Why tear down the trees for this? Instead of doing this, lets give some tlc to our existing structures and bring life back to them.

  13. amna murshed

    I think Shakespeare’s phrase “The Past is Prologue” makes a lot of sense in modern preservation; for it is very important to have a continuously reminder to how the society has evolved, improved, and progressed over the years.
    I think sustainability is a very crucial matter, and highly important for historic structures; reusing and repurposing an existing historic building is the way to go and a head start in sustainable development.
    For example, the Wager house located in Titusville was built in the 1900’s. Throughout the years it was used as a store, Brevard’s county first newspaper was published in the wager house, it was used as the towns Opera, and today it is occupied for residence.
    The old houses in Cocoa Village and Rockledge are very stunning and unique examples of historically preserved houses, and living proof of the old architectural styles.
    I totally agree with what was said about maintaining historic building and structures, and the cost to reconstruct the building for a new purpose. Not only is it financially hard and difficult to maintain a historic building, but ADA compliance guidelines MUST be applied to it.
    Shakespeare’s phrase “The Past is Prologue” has such an impact on architects, and is motivating and encouraging them to literally apply it in building practices. In addition to that, they are learning how to better build from past building applications and construction, and applying what they learnt in modern architecture.
    I am growing fonder in historic preservation every week we read a new chapter for this course, and learning about the local historic preserved buildings.

  14. Shanna Lake

    I think that Shakespeare’s phrase “The Past is Prologue” is a great concept. It brings back history. We have learned a lot from our past and it is good to see that we are slowly bringing it back. Honestly i think if people looked at this and use this method, we will see more growth. but unfortunately, people are looking at more business related and looking for ways to just save money. The green design is a great start. I personally believe that “new” is not always better. Tearing down buildings and using all new materials is very costly. Not only would reusing materials make it cheaper but also better for our environment. The home stated above is a great example. It reveals history. This article is inspiring, and it makes me excited to start a career in interior design.

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