I’m looking forward to next week’s Historic Staunton Foundation holiday house tour, in part because I got a sneak peek at one of the properties for my latest preservation piece in today’s paper. Contractor and cabinet maker Tim Cox turned an empty bowling alley of a space into this funky, eclectic apartment, first for himself and now as a rentable hotel suite as part of a boutique hotel movement in downtown Staunton.
Historic preservation is one (of many) topics I get a little geeky about, so when my editor at The News Leader mentioned trying to find a way to tell stories of people living in our many historic buildings, I took the idea and ran with it. The result? An occasional series that focuses on preservation projects in Staunton’s five historic districts, as well as other older buildings throughout Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta County.
This first installment, which ran Nov. 11, tells the story of a couple who moved three times on the same street, and finally added on to the third residence to accomodate their growing family. The package also touches on the “creative class” neighborhood where they live and some challenges that come with large rehab projects in older homes. My favorite story? The time they had to bail their drywall contractor out of jail so he could finish.
As much as I enjoy working with preservation topics in my fiction, thanks to two characters who enjoy this stuff even more than I do, it’s been fascinating to really dig into some local projects and learn more about what it takes to make them happen. Despite being on vacation this week, I’m finishing the reporting and writing of the second installment in the series, which will run Dec. 2.
The next step? Collecting the pieces online and adding in some additional multimedia elements as we continue the series, making it a resource for local preservation discussion.