Far too often I have found myself in places where people simply have no
appreciation for architecture. They have no interest in the history
of their home, or the qualities that make it unique. Whenever I
start feeling badly about the general public's lack of aesthetics,
I think about the hidden neighborhoods in cities across the country
where people really do care - where they take time to learn
about the Arts & Crafts style and restore old homes to their
Such a place is Toledo Ohio's West End. A visit to the the city's "Old
West End Festival" is a must-see for anyone interested
in architecture restoration, preservation and history. Recognized as the largest collection
of Victorian homes east of the Mississippi and the largest turn-of-the-century
residential neighborhood in the U.S." Toledo's Old West End area contains many transitional
or eclectic Craftsman, and great examples
of early/classic Arts & Crafts style.
The neighborhood was home to many prominent citizen at the turn of the 20th century, but like many city neighborhoods it began to experience urban flight beginning in the 1960's.
The West End fell into a decades-long period of decline
during which it became undesirable and houses suffered. Efforts by
the city to revitalize began in the 1990's, and the area has witnessed a dramatic revival. Low real
estate prices, low taxes and other city-sponsored incentives have
lured many young educated professionals to the neighborhood and the houses have been returned to their original glory.
The Festival offers the chance to stroll along tidy streets and visit half-dozen or so of these
old homes, but there is no reason to postpone a visit until the
next Festival. If you love looking at beautifully
restored Arts & Crafts home, and like to see a neighborhood
that cares about its history, I urge you to pay a visit to Toledo.
For more information see:
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The Grove Park Inn History
Biltmore Estate Web Site
Photo: Abernathy-Shaw house, 1908, Alabama. Source: Brian K. Chatham, Wikimedia.