Monday, April 11, 2011

Preserving the Past

Those of you who know me, know that my first love has always been history. More specifically, the Civil War era and the grandeur of the antebellum homes of the South.

While perusing my latest Garden & Gun magazine, I came across a fascinating story about a book called "Gone: A Photographic Plea for Preservation."

Photographer and architect Nell Dickerson began her exploration of antebellum homesteads with encouragement from her cousin-in-law renowned Civil War historian and novelist Shelby Foote. Her passion for forgotten and neglected buildings became a plea for preservation.

Lives were not all that was lost during the Civil War. Many of the South’s grand antebellum homes that weren’t burned by Union troops were left to fall into decay. But Nell Dickerson’s new book manages to capture some of these culturally important structures—and the history held in their eaves.

House, circa 1859, Restored 2010, Bolivar County, Mississippi

Parlor, circa 1859, Bolivar County, Mississippi

House, circa 1843, Fayette County, Tennessee

House, circa 1861, Claiborne County, Mississippi

House, circa 1860s, Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri

House, circa 1859, Bolivar County, Mississippi

This circa 1845-1850 house was photographed a year before Hurricane Katrina in Hancock County, Mississippi.

Dickerson’s haunting photos depict trees growing through grand parlors, crumbling mantles, and ghostly columns standing silent. The images are accompanied by Shelby Foote’s “Pillar of Fire” (a fictional account of Union troops burning down a family home in front of its owners). The book ends with a plea from Dickerson: “Do whatever it takes to keep the stories alive. Our personal history is part of our national history, and we should pass it to our children with great reverence, because it is not just who we were, but who we are.”

I would love to find one of these structures and turn it back into a home.
Maybe someday...