Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Builder's Craft

The Sept/Oct 2009 issue of Preservation Magazine featured an article about the American College of the Building Arts in Charleston, SC, and a copy was given me by a friend who owns a number of important historic properties. One of the things that is happening is that we are losing hand skills at an alarming rate, and that our ability to sustain the historic treasures from our past is in decline.

Besides telling about the school, founded in 1999, the article presents some interesting observations related to the Wisdom of the Hands, like the following from the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Whitehill Report, 1968:
"Technology has displaced the traditional building craftsmen. Not only has prefabricated and disposable construction destroyed the general need for such craftsmen, but artificial materials have replaced many of the natural materials used in earlier buildings whose properties are part of the craftsmen's lore."
The whole of the Witehill Report can be found here, and the portion of the Whitehill Report specific to the building trades can be found here.

Even the great Universities are having difficulty finding skilled craftsmen to retain their buildings crafted in the 1800's. What a profoundly informative irony is that!

Make, fix and create.

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