Friday, September 16, 2011

Preservation & Sustainability--Resources You Can Use


High Falls, Rochester NY
This weekend, The Landmark Society will be joining over 40 other organizations, businesses, and agencies as a vendor at the Greentopia Festival in High Falls. You might wonder, what is the purpose of this Greentopia and how does it possibly relate to The Landmark Society and historic preservation? First, the event itself is designed to celebrate the green movement, showcase what the region is doing to contribute to the movement, and open up a discussion about what sustainability and "green" really mean.

Genesee Valley Park, Rochester NY
That's where we come in. Although preservation isn't usually the first thing that leaps to most peoples minds' when they hear the words "green" or "sustainable," reusing our existing building stock, preserving our historic landscapes and rural spaces, and reinvesting in our urban centers and rural villages are all examples of recycling on a large scale. And, of course, there are added environmental benefits to preservation--most historic neighborhoods are walkable, older buildings were built to last with high quality materials, and most older buildings incorporate green features such as double-hung windows with operable upper and lower sash that allow you to maximize passive ventilation rather than blast the A/C.

Erie Canal & converted grain tower,
Pittsford NY
So come visit me this weekend at The Landmark Society's table at Greentopia--I and other friendly Landmark Society staff will be there all weekend. I'll be more than happy to share with you why preservation is a necessary part of ensuring the health and sustainability of our communities. Or, if you're reading this post after Greentopia, explore some of the links below to learn more about preservation and sustainability and, more importantly, how you can help save our planet by saving our historic resources.

If you only read one thing, take a look at this article from the National Trust's Preservation Magazine:
A Cautionary Tale--Amid our green-building boom, why neglecting the old in favor of the new just might cost us dearly. By Wayne Curtis.

From us, The Landmark Society:
8 reasons why preservation is an environmentally friendly activity
The Greenest Building - display board from Greentopia
Embodied Energy - display board from Greentopia
Preservation Tips - display board from Greentopia

From CITY Newspaper:
Closing the door on vinyl windows

From the National Trust for Historic Preservation:
Sustainability & Historic Preservation
Weatherization Guide
Window Know-How: A Guide to Going Green
Historic Wood Windows Tip Sheet
Energy Efficient Strategies - Cold Climates
Energy Efficient Strategies - Main Street

From the NY State Historic Preservation Office:
Weatherization Toolkit

From Old House Journal:
Weatherstripping 101 (the print version of this article has more helpful photos and inserts)

The Greenest Building - This website calculates the amount of embodied energy contained in an existing building and the amount of energy required to demolish a building. You can even convert those numbers into gallons of gasoline.

Caitlin Meives is Preservation Planner with The Landmark Society. She'll be spending this weekend celebrating her two favorite things--the natural and the historic built environments.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Flashback or Fast Forward--Rochester's Highland Park


Last summer, my husband and I took our four children to Rochester’s Highland Bowl, or should I say the John Dunbar Memorial Pavilion, ca. 1937, for the Monroe County Parks’ program "Free Movies in the Parks." On one particular evening, the title was Back to the Future, originally released in 1985 when I was a sophomore in college. Fast forward 25 years and here I am procuring my own version of Back to the Future by taking my kids to the same spot where I first heard, saw, and fell in love with Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel during the then popular “Opera under the Stars” series, probably around 1972.

We sat on the lawn in the beautifully landscaped park, enjoying the harmonious relationship of the amphitheater, a product of human hands, with the sloping hillside, carved from glaciers, a natural acoustic partner for the "Bowl." The ampitheater or the "Bowl" as it is now widely referred to, was originally dedicated in 1937 to the late John Dunbar who is credited with the early establishment of the world class Lilac collection in Highland Park.

Many of our friends and neighbors who reside in the City of Rochester also attend these firefly-lit summer events. On this night, the crowd was surprisingly small for a gorgeous August evening. The potential crowd, I surmised, whittled down by the competing outdoor movie series screened on the same night in the nearby Towns of Brighton and Pittsford. My observation made me pause and consider the impact that sprawl and decentralization has had, and will continue to have, upon the oeuvre of childhood, and adult experiences alike which, only a generation ago could be shared with someone from 3 doors to more than 30 miles away. The collective memory and the vocabulary that comes from common experience, can be crucial as a launching point for discourse and understanding.

In the early days of the Bowl, the Rochester Philharmonic and other symphonic programs performed frequently during the spring and summer performance season. Today, a smattering of events are on the program annually, including Shakespeare in the Park, concerts, the movie series I attend with my family, and other community activities.

My suggestion: do your best to attend an event in the Highland Bowl, and if you have children, bring them. Look around and enjoy the legacy of Ellwanger, Barry, Olmsted, and Dunbar, while Frederick Douglass and Goethe look on. The first 20 acres of Highland Park was gifted by George Ellwanger & Patrick Barry in 1887. Their gift served as a catalyst for the establishment of the City’s Department of Parks, the hiring of internationally recognized landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the establishment of an Olmsted designed park system in Rochester--one of four in the nation--and the cultivation of a world class botanical collection that draws millions annually. We are fortunate to be the recipients of decades of vision, philanthropy, and planning. The Highland Bowl site’s naturally occurring landscape was appropriately retained and maximized by people like Ellwanger, Barry, Olmsted, and Dunbar. It is an incomparable venue and should be part of every greater Rochesterian’s vocabulary.

Today, Thursday, August 18th is the last program of the summer for the “Free Movies in the Parks” series at the Highland Park Bowl. Adults can enjoy The King’s Speech, a quintessentially English film amongst a uniquely American cultural landscape.

Posted by Maranne McDade Clay, Grants Administrator

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ms. Fix It


There is a remarkable woman living in Rochester who just can’t stand to see things fall apart. She rescues old furniture, useful household items, and even buildings that are in need of repair or rehabilitation and transforms them from trash to treasure. She worked magic at the Ellwanger Estate on Mt. Hope Avenue when she commissioned architects, builders, interior designers, landscapers, and artists to turn it into the Symphony Show House for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in the summer of 2008. She has continued to improve the house and landscape since that successful project.

The Ellwanger Estate, adjacent to the Landmark Society’s historic Ellwanger Garden, now serves as a private residence during the week and a seasonal bed- and -breakfast on the weekends.

It is no surprise then that Rosemary Janofsky, owner of the Ellwanger Estate, decided that the classically inspired garden wall designed by landscape architect Fletcher Steele for Helen Ellwanger in the 1930’s needed her help. She had already spent several thousand dollars on a total repair of the wall’s stucco and tile elements. However, one of the cast- stone coping bands supporting the distinctive masonry urns had since crumbled badly. She called Stoyan Passero, the mason who completed the initial repair, to assess the damage and learned that something had to be done before winter to prevent further damage and to preserve the urn. It should be no surprise that she hired Mr. Passero immediately.

Within days there was a new cast-stone coping band in place with the urn affixed securely to the top of the wall. Considering that this part of the wall is a prominent architectural element at the edge of the Ellwanger Garden, we are grateful that Ms. Janofsky could not bear to see it crumble.

Thank you Rosemary!

Deteriorated coping band that was replaced.

Posted by Beverly Gibson, Horticulturist

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Forget Black Friday--it's Small Business Saturday!


Where will you find me at 5 AM on Black Friday? Dragging myself out of bed, driving across town to the mall, and waiting in line for an irresistible deal on a digital camera? Nope. I will be sound asleep in my bed, probably with the dog at my feet and the cat on my head.

While I delight in spending hours poring over the Thanksgiving Day doorbuster deal ads and I love the thrill of racing hordes of desperate holiday shoppers to the hottest item in the store, this year I will be sitting out Black Friday (and its recent companion, Cyber Monday). On Saturday November 27, I will be joining almost 900,000 other folks across the nation in support of the first ever Small Business Saturday. American Express has declared the Saturday after Thanksgiving as "a day to support the local businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country." Visit the Small Business Saturday website or join the movement on Facebook to learn more.

Besides supporting local businesses, I'll also be avoiding the crazed mall parking lots in favor of a healthy stroll through my neighborhood. For me, shopping locally isn't just
about supporting local businesses and avoiding the stale mall air. It's about supporting the people who help keep our communities healthy and vibrant. Without local businesses, our historic buildings, commercial districts, and larger communities wouldn't survive. Small businesses often rehabilitate historic commercial spaces and adaptively reuse other types of historic buildings, helping to preserve the streetscape that makes a village or a neighborhood appealing, walkable, and attractive to locals and visitors alike.

Not to mention that when you shop at local stores, you can find unique gifts that will make you everyone's favorite gift giver. Take the gift basket I assembled last year for a White Elephant gathering--I lived in Kansas at the time so I created a distinctive package with the following: a six pack of beer from Tallgrass, the local microbrewery in Manhattan, KS; a jar of hot pickles from Topeka's famous C.W. Porubsky's Deli and Tavern; a block of cheese from the Alma Creamery; and a sampling of tasty treats from a local candy shop in downtown Topeka. Who could possibly ask for anything more delightful (or tasty)?

Granted, I haven't even begun my shopping list yet but this year I will be applying the same theme to western New York--perhaps chocolates from Stever's, a growler from Rohrbach, jam from Bauman Farms, sausage from Swan Market. For those who might not be as food oriented as I, consider spending your Small Business Saturday at Parkleigh, Craft Company No. 6, the House of Guitars, Stars & Stripes The Flag Store, or Cinema Theater. And don't forget all the villages and towns outside of the greater Rochester area that also have unique local shops! For more inspiration, check out City Newspaper's Holiday Guide 2010.

Caitlin Meives, Preservation Planner with the Landmark Society, will be spending her Small Business Saturday shopping on Park Avenue and Monroe Avenue in Rochester, NY.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not in Kansas Anymore...


When you tell people you live or have lived in Kansas, they invariably respond with a line from The Wizard of Oz. They usually think this is pretty clever but I can tell you it gets old. That said, I thought I'd take advantage of the opportunity to use the line myself. After all, I truly am not in Kansas anymore...Or am I?

I've moved to Rochester after spending two and a half years in Manhattan, Kansas (also known as the "Little Apple"). Working for the Kansas State Historic Preservation Office and taking my own weekend jaunts with my boyfriend and amiable Border Collie, Heidi, I saw and experienced quite a bit of the state's natural and cultural resources. I traveled the state's scenic byways (, visited natural oddities such as Mushroom Rock State Park and Rock City, experienced local traditions such as Tulip Time and the Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine, sampled food in local towns, and documented wonderful architecture--ranging from New Deal-era parks to downtown commercial buildings, barns, and early vernacular stone farmhouses.

A day trip with Heidi the border collie to Coronado Heights, a WPA constructed park in Saline County, Kansas

While doing all of these activities, I marveled to myself how different Kansas was from New York. There was no value judgment attached to this, just a simple observation. To me, somehow the culture, the people, the small towns, the way folks lived life in those towns just seemed different, perhaps even a little foreign to a northeasterner such as myself. I grew up in Syracuse, New York and experienced a fair amount of the state--from New York City to the Adirondacks and the small-medium sized towns in between. Regardless, when I moved to Kansas, I arrived with the same assumptions and stereotypes that I've encountered amongst most northeasterners since I returned to this part of the country, namely that Kansas is a flat vast wasteland filled with corn and wheat fields and not much else. Through my travels, I quickly learned that this was not the case. There were interesting things waiting around almost every corner, the places I mentioned above being just a small sampling.

"American Fork Art" in Lucas, Kansas

Now that I have returned to New York and have had a chance to travel outside of Rochester a little, I'm beginning to realize that upstate New York and Kansas have more in common than I thought. Driving into Mount Morris was oddly reminiscent of driving into many towns I documented in Kansas. (Fear not New Yorkers, this is not a bad thing!). Sure New York has a lot more trees and, of course, about the earliest building stock you'll see in Kansas dates to the early 1860s but when it comes to small town commercial and residential architecture, natural beauty, and historic preservation, they have a lot more in common than you might think. Communities in both states face similar challenges: dwindling populations, limited employment opportunities, the vinyl siding salesman. On the flip side, communities in both states are using historic preservation tools--adaptive reuse, tax credits, grants, historic resource surveys, to name a few--to combat these challenges, restore economic vitality, and preserve their communities.

Downtown streetscapes in Kansas and New York

So, what's my point? After spending just a few years there, I feel better acquainted with the Sunflower State than my home state. It's time for me to hit the road and absorb some local culture in upstate New York. While I love to dispel myths about Kansas and encourage folks to visit, I'd also like to encourage you to explore your own communities--visit a nearby town or village, sample some local food, throw back a beer (or other non-alcoholic beverage) at the local watering hole, buy a gift at a local shop, learn something new at a museum, or just marvel at the architecture and the landscape.

Once you've done that, maybe you'll think about giving Kansas a shot?

Letchworth State Park, a great place to observe scenic beauty and historic park resources

Posted by Caitlin Meives, Preservation Planner

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Is it Better in the Dark?


Right now you are probably looking at a pretty bright, clear screen. Clean printing; an image or two; a headline and the paragraphs of content. There are pull down menus from your browser, each with a word or symbol. You might have a few additional windows open, with images peeking around the edges of this one.

If you turn away from your screen, chances are your environment is fairly well lit also. Overhead lights, desk lamp,nightstand, light from the flatscreen tv, from the streetlights outside, from the headlights of passing vehicles.
At this very moment, your eyes are bombarded with lots and lots of visual information. It's streaming in through your optical nerve, mainlining into your brain. It's all clamoring for your mental attention. There is no mystery or ambiguity in what you are seeing.It's all bright, well lit, and in your face.

Your brain is so busy processing the visual information, how can you have time to really consider what you are seeing?

Would you like to put a little mystery back into life?

Let's try a brief experiment.
After you read the next paragraph, close your eyes and think about what you've read. You can think about it for as long as you like, but try for 20-30 seconds.

Okay, here's the paragraph:

The dimming light shone through the old window, barely illuminating the glass tumblers on the small maple table. Behind the table, the entrance to the tap room had a chalk calendar written above the door: the white chalk marks glowed in the
twilight. No light came from the massive fireplace opening, as the summer heat provided enough warmth. On the long dining table, plates stacked with pancakes, a meat pie and a small wheel of cheese waited for supper guests.

(you can close your eyes now...)

Are you back yet?

How was that for you? Did you manage to make it at least 20 seconds? It can be difficult to do that. I don't know about you, but I'm addicted to visual information. Right now I have 6 windows open on my computer, and I like it that way.

But I do find it refreshing to take a break from the visual overload.

About now you are probably wondering "Why is she writing about this in a Landmark Society blog?" We work in a visual medium - the architectural heritage of our community. We work to help people enjoy the visual medium, but also to "read" the historic stories the architecture embodies in its visual content. That takes practice and focus, to "weed out" the visual distractions.

Fortunately, practicing those visual skills can be lots of fun - especially when it involves popcorn and marshmallows.

On the evenings of July 27 (and again August 24) you can come to the Stone-Tolan House Museum to experience the site in a lesser light.

"Full Moon Flashlight Tours" will feature tours in the oldest remaining house and tavern in Monroe County, some lawn game activities, and then a gathering around the campfire for complimentary popcorn, and sharing of games and stories. You may also purchase a s'mores kit for that ultimate retro campfire experience. Bring your own folding chair, or sit on the ground or our wooden benches. .More details are here .

You'll enjoy the chance to "rest" yourself from the visual bombardment of modern life, slow down, and really see what is in front of you.

And who knows what you will discover? Nothing makes the past seem more real than the lengthening shadows in a dimly lit 200 year old tavern room.

posted by Cindy Boyer, Director of Museums and Education

Friday, July 2, 2010

More than a surprise visual treat…

LSWNY’s summer day tour to FLW’s legacy in Buffalo

Life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get! This is one of my favorite quotes and recently I got my almond chocolate, my favorite kind at Wright’s Fontana Boat house. Almost two weeks ago, I was a part of FLW’s legacy tour in Buffalo with a group of 40 people. We were supposed to make a short photo stop at this Boathouse, but to our surprise we were able to get an inside- out tour of this place. It was one of those lucky days!

It’s hard to express how this building was and how much more I am a fan of FLW. I would like to say that I am not only his fan but also an air- conditioner (Please it’s a joke, Don’t take it seriously and think what an immigrant would know of the nuances of English language). A building, which was conceived over 100 years ago in 1905, is still applicable in today’s context. It’s hard to imagine how much forward looking he was, to design a building, which is timeless and is still integrated in this millennium. FLW considered this building to be one of his best designs, which he originally designed for University of Wisconsin’s rowing club. Almost after 95 years later, the rights of FLW’s design were bought and now this boathouse is home to West Side Rowing Club. To get more details you can visit
This boathouse sat like a jewel on the river with its long free flowing cantilevered slab roof, leaded glass ribbon windows (FLW’s trade mark) and straight lines. The interiors too were also very typical of Wright with wooden floors, intricate details and geometrically designed light fixtures. What a treat this surprise stop was!

The other stops on the tour included Darwin Martin complex, Roycroft inn in East Aurora and Graycliff. I am unstoppable when I start writing about Wright, but I was a part of this tour last year as well, so if you are interested to learn more about these places, you can see my thoughts in our blog archives of June 2009.
Overall it was a great tour and on behalf of Landmark Society, I would like to thank all or tourgoers! We look forward to having you on some more of our tours. To learn more about our tours, you can visit

Posted by Nimisha Thakur, ex- preservation associate

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

All Good Things...

Digg!Is it really true, that "All good things must come to an end?"

You might think that being in the historic preservation field means that we want all good things - especially architectural and historic good things - to last forever.

Perhaps you wonder how an organization that supports "preservation" would be closing one of its finest architectural structures.

On July 1, 2010, the Campbell-Whittlesey House will cease operations as a museum. A month after that, it's anticipated that the property will be placed on the market.

Campbell-Whittlesey was the impetus for the start of The Landmark Society. It was purchased in 1937 by Helen Ellwanger to save it from destruction. Miss Ellwanger and others formed "The Society for the Preservation of Landmarks in Western New York

How can we sell what so many have put their hearts and souls and pocketbooks into? Are we betraying the trust of the past 73 years?

I don't think we are.

Their goal was to see an architecturally significant structure saved from demolition. At that time, the accepted procedure was to make such a structure into a house museum. But even at the start, their intention to form a historic preservation group, not a museum organization, was clear. They didn't name the group "The C-W House" - the used the term "Landmarks" - plural.

But what about over 60 years of operation as a museum?

Yes - that is a good thing that is coming to an end. There is some sadness attached to this for many of us - myself included.

Why wouldn't there be? It's only natural when a good thing comes to an end. When a vacation is over. When a child leaves home. When a life well-lived ends. When the cherry blossoms fall.

The Japanese celebrate that moment of inevitable change by holding "hanami" - flower viewing parties under the cherry blossoms. They enjoy their beauty, but also acknowledge a belief called "mono no aware." Literally translated this means "sensitivity to things" - an awareness of the ephemeral nature of all things in life. The Japanese believe the cherry blossoms are more beautiful because they last such a very short time.

Of course - you must first recognize the beauty or goodness of something, if you are to celebrate with a gentle sadness its passing.

Please join us on Saturday, June 19th th celebrate the "good thing" of Campbell-Whittlesey serving as a museum for many generations; at 123 South Fitzhugh in historic Corn Hill. We'll be offering complimentary visits between 1 and 3 pm, refreshments, and a chance to share a memory about Campbell-Whittlesey to be saved in our archives. Click here for more details.

Yes - all good things must come to an end.

But it's what comes next that helps us face the changes in our lives.

The end of vacation leads to refreshed body and spirit. The child leaves home to become an adult member of society. The life well-lived leaves a legacy through family and friends. The blossoms yield to the cherries.

Campbell-Whittlesey will continue beyond its function as a museum, its architectural integrity protected by legal covenants. We don't know yet exactly what its new life will be - but our on-going watch will insure that it is cared for, so it may survive to be a part of our cityscape for many years - and generations - to come.

Posted by Director of Museums and Education Cindy Boyer

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Better than 3-D: Taste History - Literally!


Take that, Avatar! Stand back, Clash of the Titans! We have something way better than 3-D!

Savor the flavors of the past at Tastings Through Time - this Friday night at the Stone-Tolan House Museum. You don't have to be content with merely seeing an adventure in 3-D. You can enjoy it in 5-S - all of your senses! See the historic house. Hear the stories of time past. Touch the smooth glass holding your wine. Smell the fragrant spices in the stuffed mushrooms. Taste the decadent chocolate and wine pairing.

On Friday night, June 4th, we'll be serving up "tastings" of delightful fare from across 200 years of Rochester's history. The decades of dishes reflect the decades of the houses on this year's House and Garden Tour (June 5& 6) from the earliest house in the county to a 1990's "landmark in the making."

I'm really looking forward to the Friday night event. As Director of Museums and Education, it's my professional duty to taste each and every dish, in the drive to understand more about our past.

I will have to investigate our earliest ancestor's tastebuds by trying the cheese chowder and crusty bread - perhaps accompanied by an historic ale from Custom BrewcCrafters. It's what original residents Orringh and Elizabeth Stone would want me to do.

While I am still studying the early 19th century, I'll try the "little cabbages" - the nickname for an 1836 creampuff. I understand they are far superior to what we consider a creampuff today.

As I continue my studies, I'll move into the refreshments from the mid to late 19th century. Mushrooms a la' Provencale awaits, as does potted cheese - a savory cheese spread. Of special interest will be the tiny pickled onions, from the 1881 cookbook "What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking" - the first cookbook by an African-American published in the U.S. I hear the onions are quite spicy - and addictive.

My research Friday night will not be limited to the 19th century. The early 20th century will be well represented, with an homage to the first cocktail party menus, with "russian sandwiches" - colorful hors'dourves with olives, butter and other savory ingredients, celery canapes and other nibbles of the 1920's and 30's.

Even though at this point I will have already worked my way through several decades, there is always room for - you guessed it. Jello. But not just any Jello - one of the favorite flavors of the past century: coffee Jello. Accented with a pouf of whipped cream of course. Just think of it as an espresso shooter.

I might be tempted to take a break at this point - perhaps visit the Stone-Tolan House Museum which will be open in the twilight's glow that evening.

After that refreshing visit, history - and the menu marches on! Try not to have too much pity for me, as I approach the delights of the 1950's. In a melding of sock hop days and today, burgers will be presented in "slider" size.

Accompanying the burgers - mini root beer floats, of course. Did I mention the root beer (like the ales) will come from Custom Brewcrafter's historic and delicious recipes?

Research is never really finished - and when you are studying the past, you must understand it in the context of today. I won't shirk my duty. I will visit the last decade of our delights - the contemporary tastes offered by Chocolate and Vines. Pairings of wine and cheese or wine and chocolate will educate our 21st century palates. I will probably have to try both.

All of these dishes - and more - will surely give a well-rounded understanding of the times and tastes of those who lived in our area over the past 200 years.

If you join me in this research undertaking - you'll also enjoy the scent of plants and flowers (available for purchase) courtesy of our friends at Allyn's Creek Garden Club and the hospitality of our hosts, Historic Brighton.

If that was not enough, your ticket to Tastings Through Time also includes a ticket to our annual House and Garden Tour, on Saturday and Sunday. A self guided tour, you may visit the homes in any order on either day. A good thing, because after all the fun on Friday night, you may wish to sleep in a bit on Saturday morning.

Visit here to get tickets for Friday evening - as well as a description of the houses on the weekend tour. The "Tastings Through Time" tickets must be purchased in advance!

I hope you'll join me at this tasty tribute to times past. It will be a lot of fun - and you won't have to duck any fake 3-D arrows.

A trio of chocolate delights!
Posted by Cindy Boyer, Director of Museums and Education

Friday, May 14, 2010

Architecture and Music - It's Personal


Architecture is Frozen Music...

Perhaps you've heard about that quote, from late 18th century writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe elaborated, by suggesting that architecture produces the same "tone" or effect in your mind as music.

But what about the reverse? If architecture is frozen music, does that mean music is liquid architecture? Are there connections between architecture and music - or more specifically, historic preservation?

Folks at The National Trust for Historic Preservation have given this some thought. Their forum list discussion resulted in contributors building a playlist of songs that refer to the designed environment. Called "Songs of the Preservationist,"
it's a fun read, and amazingly varied - everything from traditional songs (Little Old Sod Shanty on the claim or Stephen Foster's My Old Kentucky Home) to popular 20th century pieces (Rosemary Clooney's Come On - My House or The Beatles In My Life) to contemporary pieces (Vampire Weekend's Mansard Roof or rapper Eminem's "Beautiful.")

You can see the entire playlist here.

They've even put a video playlist on Youtube, where you can enjoy several of the songs and their videos (just be aware that there is a bit of "adult" language in some of the songs. Did I mention Eminem?)

The playlist on Youtube can be enjoyed here:

Goethe was certainly a deep thinker, comparing the effect of architecture to the effect of music on our minds - That it gives you a sense of the art, of what is greater or bigger than ourselves, what transcends our lives. While I appreciate that philosophical perspective, I prefer the way music - and architecture - connects intimately with the personal level in my life.

We've all experienced hearing a song from a past period in our lives - maybe when you were in college, when you were 10 years old, when you were first married - and felt that pull to your earlier time. For a moment it's as if the intervening years have disappeared.

Don't you think the physical environment of the architecture around us has the same effect?

This thought crossed my mind when I heard Miranda Lambert's new song, "The House That Built Me." It's a touching tribute to the memory and meaning of our childhood home. The singer visits the house where she grew up, hoping the new owners will let her in, as she promises to "take nothing but a memory." She hopes the visit will help her recapture her authentic sense of self.

Think about your childhood home. What can you recall about living in that home? Think about how it felt, as a kid, to live there. Remember the feeling of the banister - or the doorknob - or the way the windows opened?

In the historic preservation field, we get accustomed to thinking on a larger scale - the house's architecture, the streetscape, the preservation district, the city. It's enlightening to bring it back to a personal level - and what could be more personal than the spaces you inhabited as a child?

I didn't know that I was growing up in a classic American Foursquare house. I remember the feeling of perching at the top of the staircase when I was supposed to be in bed. I'd peer through the balusters of the handrail at the adults watching TV in the living room.

Those balusters were my "bird blind" - where I got to observe the adult world in secret (at least until the night I fell asleep and got caught.) Is it any wonder I grew up to be someone who liked the secret spaces and staircases of older homes?

I bet you know a bunch of people living in their childhood homes today. I mean the children you know! They are building their memories and future attitudes about the "frozen music" of architecture now. They know their own personal spaces. It's our job as adults to help them see the bigger picture. If the kids you know are in elementary school, check out our summer program "Arch-KID-Tecture" where they will have lots of fun getting a wider perspective. Just visit our website for all the details .

I'm grateful that singer Miranda Lambert's song helped me make this connection between my past and present experiences in architecture.

It's a good thing that her house was still standing.

Posted by Director of Museums and Education Cindy Boyer