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After Work: A Unique Opportunity To Join

...I’m a pushover for history. Oh yes, that estate must truly have its ha’s-ha’s put to rights, even though the livestock and fences are a distant memory. And certainly, that tower must have its stones clinked. After all, didn’t it survive William the Conqueror? The bones of the chateau’s garden are intact, but the pleached lindens are no more. What a pity. There’s so much to be done...

Dona Gibb's enthusiasm for the preservation of "history'' has prompted her to consider setting up a society tasked with raising funds for a very particular renovation and restoration project.

Do read more of Dona's appealing columns. Click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

“You are invited to join a select group in the founding of the 1575 Society.

“The aim of this Society is to preserve the architecture and art of South Florida’s rich heritage, one dedicated to growth and inattention to historic accuracy.

“The Society seeks to honor those unsung architects and artisans of the last century who dared to bring their talents to create expansive communities in the midst of scrub pine and cabbage palms.

“Who believed in the power of irrigation, the hardiness of Bermuda grass turf and the appeal of golf.

“Who understood the terror of termites and the structural integrity of cement block.

“Who cherished stucco and dry wall.

“Who built dwellings almost overnight for those who might soon face the long, long night of which there is no dawn.

“These ideals are truly exemplified in this charming example of this faux Mediterranean villa built during the last century (circa 1990.)

“Join with us in preserving this important piece of South Florida heritage.”

I was moved to establish this Society in the light of numerous appeals we’ve received. These preservation groups are worthy, but when I read more about them, many of the properties are still in private hands. I wonder if it’s worth it to scatter funds to down-at-the-heels aristocracy in need of a new roof for the chateau. Is writing a check for the upkeep of an old lordly pile in Northeast Tohellandback a worthy cause?

But write the check I do. The ink flows from my pen in a rivulet of nostalgia. I’m a pushover for history. Oh yes, that estate must truly have its ha’s-ha’s put to rights, even though the livestock and fences are a distant memory. And certainly, that tower must have its stones clinked. After all, didn’t it survive William the Conqueror? The bones of the chateau’s garden are intact, but the pleached lindens are no more. What a pity. There’s so much to be done.

Charity, I was told, begins at home. Hence, the creation of the 1575 Society. Since I noted that all other preservation societies have impressive names, I decided mine need ed cache. I named it for our street address, not for the year the house was built. If someone thinks it refers to a historic year, so be it.

Our Florida house is still in private hands. Ours. I see a new roof in our future and barrel tile doesn’t come cheap. And we certainly wouldn’t want to compromise the architectural integrity.

The bones of the garden are still intact, and in words that the newly created 1575 Society might use, “ the owner has sought to use native plants and eschew the gaudy intrusions of imported floral folderol. However, some of these plantings suffered winterkill. They must be replaced.

“Given the weather of south Florida, it should come as no surprise that the exterior of the villa was much in the need of refurbishing. Appropriate paint colors were sought and applied to protect the home and preserve the appropriate faux Mediterranean authenticity. The color, a cream yellow, was sourced from an American paint company, well regarded and deserving of its popularity among South Florida residents.

“While the owners bore that expense, your donations would insure that this historic property would be maintained according to plans first drafted at the threshold of the 21st century.

“ However, there are additional improvements necessary to preserve this important property. Given the capricious nature of tropical storms, the villa would benefit from missile-proof glass. Thus far, it has escaped damage, but this precaution would help insure that its furnishings, typical of the era, would escape water and wind damage.

“Naming opportunities abound.

“The tropical sun has done its nasty work and some draperies have become woefully faded. Your contribution could put the once-magnificent master suite into pristine shape. It could become the ‘Master Suite as generously refurbished by Insert Name Here.’

“On a smaller but still important note, all the villa’s WCs need new seats. Discrete brass plaques could be affixed with the donor’s name.

“Once a show room for the owners’ quaint 20th automobiles, the garage has become a haven for spiders. Its oil-spotted floor belie its original intent, an extension of the home and its owners’ expansive personalities. A framed document done on vellum in beautiful calligraphy would note the donor(s) generosity. A duplicate of the certificate would be available upon request.

“These are but a few of the steps necessary to take to preserve the villa so it can be enjoyed for generations to come.

“The 1575 Society seeks to be inclusive so that donations no matter how modest are considered for naming, such as replacing rotting garden hoses and rusty rakes.

“Several times throughout the Season, the private owners of this South Florida genre property will give personal tours to a select few.

“Join today take advantage of this unique opportunity. Be part of the celebration of the Gilded Age of the Unbridled South Florida Builder.”

The 1575 Society is not a tax-exempt organization, nor will it ever be. Unfortunately. On the other hand, unlike many historic properties, we don’t operate a tearoom or sell Christmas trees to support it.


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