Photo by Salt Water New England

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Plaqued Houses and Houses with Plaques: When and How?

Plaqued Houses...  - Photos by Salt Water New England

A reader question:

Muffy, my wife and I are moving to Conn from Kansas next month. Where can we buy one of those signs shown on the house? ... Any info would be great.

...and Houses with Plaques.

  



















 

17 comments:

  1. Do so with care. First, buy an old house. Anything built after 1800 really n’arrive pas. If you do buy a genuine old house your local historical society ought to have records of who built it and/or owned it previously. Please, if you do find something suitable, do not install a large screen tv either above the fireplace or in the kitchen. Thank you.

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  2. Hmmm. Well to give the most generous answer: work with a local real estate to find a historic house with a plaque on it. You can "choose" what name and year are on the plaque by choosing the house that comes with the name and year you most fancy!

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    1. I married into such a house rather than buying, but I hasten to add that I did not do so for the house. The house was a bonus, sort of like when you get one of those free dessert cups at P.F. Chang's.

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  3. The majority of such homes have usually been given such wooden plaques by their local historical society. They will be an excellent resource if the property you fall in love with does not have a plaque. The brass National Register of Historic Places plaque is a designation earned for a specific reason and is not something you can go out and purchase. We found our antique sea captains home in a historic district four years ago and had to research deeds and present data to our historical society to demonstrate that a sea captain (in our case "captains") once resided in our home, prior to being awarded our ship captain's plaque. The exercise further connected us to home and place. Be aware that not all real estate agents are historic property specialists. The agent who listed our home noted that it was built in the 1920's. It's how the town categorized it. Our place was built in the early 1800's and is featured in a local historic book of old homes. It should also be said that while some buyers think they want an antique home because it's "charming", they are a labor of love and an investment in preserving a bit history. Once this "history" has been torn out, it can never be replaced.

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    1. Yeah, you need NRHP designation for the brass ones, which can either be a benefit or a millstone around your neck depending on how much work needs to be done on the property and availability of qualified artisans. Having served an NRHP church in my last call needing significant work and my previous life having NRHP compliance as a major part I am intimately familiar with such things. Your State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is who you'd want to talk to there.

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    2. National Register of Historic Places listing only triggers review if the proposed work involves state or federal funding, permitting, or licensing.

      For the average homeowner, NR listing will likely carry no restrictions. Local heritage designation tends to be more restrictive - review/approval of any proposed exterior work may be required.

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    3. National Register designation also does not provide a plaque - you can't purchase NR listing, but you would need to purchase a plaque from a private vendor!

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  4. 'Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.'

    Connecticut issues metal plaques for buildings listed on the state or national register of historic places or that contribute to a national register historic district. The state website has more information. These aren't really decorations. They reflect the history of the building.

    Otherwise, anyone can get a custom plaque made, and it can say whatever you want. My opinion: house number, house number with street name, always fair game. We made a plaque with a cast iron frame and painted terra cotta tiles with the house number. I grouted and caulked the tiles into the frame and mounted it, and it still sits above our front door 23 years later. Naming homes: Hunter's Lodge, Pond View, Smith House, or having your family name and 'est. 2021,' i wouldn't do it....but it's your new house, and perhaps the plaque makes it feel more like home. Most plaques with sayings on them make me feel embarrassed for the owner, but I understand some sayings have a lot of meaning for people. Inventing a historical name and date with no connection to a home would seem phony.

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  5. I would be wary of such plaques. Not to brag, but I live in a house on the NRHP. There's a sign on it with name and date that was created by the house's owners in the 1930s. After much research in archives (local and state, land records and probate records), I have come to accept the date on that sign as more likely true than the date the local historical society considers valid. This year our local historical society started offering plaques for old houses around town. But since I disagree with their dating and am a Ph.D. in early American history, I declined their sign and was dismayed they would not allow me to chose the name and date of the house. I own another house in a nearby town and got in quite a debate with that town's local historian who claimed that house was much later than my researches suggest. As nice and attractive as historical societies' plaques would be, I don't want plaques with what I consider erroneous dates and names on them forced on me by some one else. Sorry to be a curmudgeon.

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  6. One approach might be to endeavor to make such a meaningful and lasting contribution in your community that whatever house you live in will forever be identified with YOUR name. And even if you don't quite meet that goal, it would most certainly be a recipe for a life well lived.

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  7. Love the fan lights over the doors and the fluted columns. Wonderful images.

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  8. One of my earliest memories of one of many trips to NW Connecticut was driving Litchfield’s streets with a blue plaque on nearly every house beginning with “17” or “16”.

    Randy Ventgen

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  9. Plaques on houses and businesses built during the 19th century, like a number of them shown in the photos, don't strike me as arrivistes. It depends on the founding and heritage of the village, town, etc., in such cases.

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  10. Recognize the Lemmon House plaque with the cod! We walk by it almost everyday.

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  11. Ould Colony Artisans out of RI seems to be a New England favorite. https://nhpreservation.org/directory-of-products-and-services/ould-colony-artisans

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  12. Love the silver Volvo wagon. :)

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  13. The white saltbox with four-paned window sign is a Guilford, CT thing. I think every house built before 1850 has or is entitled to one. Guilford Keeping Society may have more info: guilfordkeepingsociety.com.

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