By giving something historic a little bit of time, you might be surprised at what you would have thrown away and later regretted. As a general rule, wait a year or two before deciding to remove anything historic.
We bought Love House in a neighborhood we didn ’t know a lot about. As always, when we started the extensive renovation, neighbors started coming over to see what we were up to. When they realized how passionate we were about historic preservation, they said, “You’ve got to see the house down the street. You’ll just lose your mind!”
They were right! Just two houses down from Love House sat the most unassuming little home. The front was a modernized 1870s salt box that was charming in itself—but it was what was at the rear of the home that really took our breath away.
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The back portion of the house was a completely intact mountain man trapper cabin that predates the settling of Utah by the pioneers and was being used as a master bedroom! The American Fur Company previously had a trading post right down the street. We had never seen something like this before other than at historic preservation sites. We bought the property and are getting ready to restore it this year. We plan on keeping it as a legacy to the work we are trying to do.
We are probably not the best people to answer this when it comes to historic homes. In our opinion, there is almost always a way to save it. We have had devastating projects where roofs had been torn off and the house had been left to rot into the ground. Floors, moldings and windows had been removed and unwanted tenants (animals included) had moved in.
When we have moments like these, it is important that we maintain a level of perspective and respect for what we are trying to save. Most materials cannot be replicated exactly, but we can come close—we can re-create as much character as possible while still being mindful of modern conveniences. Long story short: if you have the right mind-set, it’s almost never too far gone.