Putting the history back in historic preservation

Elsie Yuratovich (1921-2005) lived her entire life in Pittsburgh’s Croatian community along the north shore of the Allegheny River. She lived in a frame house overlooking Pennsylvania Route 28, the railroad, and the disappearing industrial landscape in which she grew up.

I met Elsie while researching Pittsburgh’s leather and livestock industries and we spoke many times between 1996 and 2000. Elsie would send me long letters, newspaper clippings, and photographs. In fact, when the Pittsburgh Wool Company was demolished in 2000, Elsie stood at her beloved Croatian Orthodox Church just above the site and she snapped several photos. Those were the last photos I have of the building I had spent years documenting. Continue reading

DeKalb County’s ranch houses: ubiquitous and uber sexy?

When we moved from the D.C. suburbs to the Atlanta suburbs in February, we exchanged a common 1930s house for a common 1950s house. We went from a Cape Cod built in 1936 to a ranch house built in the mid-1950s.

After we moved in we realized that we were living inside the Druid Hills Historic District and that the ranch houses lining our street were considered contributing elements to the district. Last year, the Georgia’s state historic preservation office released a well-researched and highly accessible ranch house context study. I downloaded the report and browsed through it before moving on to the business of moving. When I revisited the report a few weeks ago I realized that several of the homes discussed in there report were located just a few hundred feet from our new Georgia home.

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