Wednesday, January 25, 2017

See Historic Homes The 21st Century Way

Plainfield's six residential historic districts attract hundreds of visitors with their house tours, both for the architectural marvels and the exquisite interiors. But thanks to a 21st Century innovation, you don't have to wait for a walking tour of the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District.

A discussion of a "walking tour app" at Tuesday's Historic Preservation Commission meeting sent me to the VWB web site to check. There it was, with an introduction to the district, maps of each location and details of each home's origin and architecture.

If you have free time on the next unseasonably warm winter day, call up the link and try it out. By chance, I used to live in one of those mansions, when it was a communal household in the early 1980s. I loved the old clawfoot bathtubs and  beautiful woodwork in that place. When we were disbanding, I took a flashlight and looked in all the nooks and crannies. I consider the turtle to be my totemic animal and was thrilled to find a small pewter turtle in a kitchen cabinet.

But enough about me and the turtles. Visit the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District web site and click on "Walking Tour." I believe it was adapted from a print version of a self-guided walking tour several years ago.

Other districts may be interested in developing apps for walking tours, and HPC commissioners mentioned possibly having one for Plainfield's downtown, which has several 19th Century buildings. I know when I am downtown I often stop in my tracks to admire a facade with fascinating details.

Next time you are walking on East Front between Park & Watchung, look for this 1888 building.

And say hi to "downtown guy" for me!


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