Stars when you shine you know how I feel; Scent of the pine you know how I feel; Oh freedom is mine and I know how I feel; It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me and I’m feeling good. ~ Nina Simone
Just ask Thoreau – sit in the woods long enough and you can’t help but think deep thoughts. I’ve only been nestled in the outdoors for about a month now and already those deep thoughts have me Read More
During the mid to late 19th century artist, author, poet and social critic, John Ruskin, known for his essays on art and architecture had this to say about historical buildings:
“Old buildings are not ours. They belong, partly to those who built them, and partly to the generations of mankind who are to follow us. The dead still have their right to them: That which they labored for… we have no right to obliterate.
What we ourselves have built, we are at liberty to throw down. But what other men gave their strength, and wealth and life to accomplish, their right over it does not pass away with their death.”
This caters to the notion of old homes having a sort of inner spirit. And I’d say that for those of us who happen to live in an older home, it becomes our duty to restore that spirit if the home has fallen into disrepair. It is only through careful restoration that a badly worn home can truly be revived.
Strangely enough, Ruskin didn’t buy into philosophy of restoring homes. In fact he was all about preservation as opposed to restoration. It was his belief that the owner should do whatever necessary to maintain the integrity of the architecture with proper maintenance and upkeep and said that restoration was the most total destruction a building could suffer. “A destruction out of which no remnants can be gathered.” He went on to say that …”it is impossible, as impossible as to raise the dead, to restore anything that has ever been great or beautiful in architecture.”
I can see where he’s coming from especially in terms of those confused souls who gut an old home and restore it without holding true to the home’s original roots, essentially disregarding its history and smothering its spirit. People who do this think they’re doing a service to the home when actually I find they’re doing quite the opposite. Time and again I’ve watched episodes of home renovation programs on HGTV where the homeowner takes a beautiful old home, transforms it into a modern day nightmare and stands smiling at what I would describe to be disfigured architecture.
That being said, I don’t entirely agree with Ruskin’s opinion on restoration of architecture. I believe at times it’s necessary to preserve our architectural history and if done correctly can be like polishing an old, tarnished brass lamp and realizing its hidden beauty.
I believe in architectural zen. A balance between holding true to the home’s original character and at the same time instilling a sense of modernity and convenience that represents modern day living.
The Seven Lamps of Architecture by John Ruskin can be downloaded for free from Google Book Search