I grew up in central Kentucky and we always lived in older houses so I got a feel for old houses early on. When I was a teenager we moved to Northern KY and later it was here I got my start in historic preservation. I worked for a Mick Noll who was converting an old firehouse into a restaurant. I was impressed by the man who restored the wooden windows. He was meticulous with the details but still he moved right along. He restored all the windows to smooth working order. Another fellow, an older carpenter had an apprentice who really was not so interested in the work. I paid close attention however and picked up a lot. I learned early on to hustle when I helped him. If I fell behind I would hear "dollar waiting on a dime" and so pick it up to keep him happy and so I could keep working with him.
Later I fell in with a crew from out in Boone County. They were working around Rabbit Hash putting up relocated log buildings. I loved this work and participated in all aspects of log construction. I have kept after log work off and on over the years.
After a few years with this crew I moved to Frankfort KY and began working on old houses there. I began with small jobs like repairs for doors and windows and moved into window restoration business - fenestration renovation. Then as the community got to know me I began doing kitchen and bath upgrades for historic home and moved on to serious renovations like room additions and structural repairs. I always kept a few window restoration projects going during the season and teamed up with other trades for bigger jobs.
In 1997 I took a job with the state historic preservation office - the Kentucky Heritage Council. My work there was to assist public entities with their historic renovation projects. I could draw on my own experiences to give direction to owners and contractors who often were not familiar with techniques used for historic preservation. This was a big problem in that municipalities would hire contractors to work on their historic buildings but the contractors who responded to the project had few and sometimes no experience with historic renovation.
To try to remedy that, with the support of my office, in partnership with the Pine Mountain Settlement School and under the careful direction and leadership of Bob Yapp, we organized the Pine Mountain School for Practical Historic Preservation. Our goal was to teach folks practical methods for renovating historic structures. This was done by intensive hands on one week workshops focusing on a particular aspect of renovation.
About this time, 2003 I discovered PTN and attended my first IPTW in Mobile AL. I was really blown away by the demonstrations and the members. The devotion to the preservation trades was impressive and the free exchange of information and strong emphasis education clinched it for me. This was the group of professionals I had been looking for. My only regret was I had not discovered them earlier.
I have continued attending IPTWs since then as best my schedule would allow. I found within the membership professionals who would come to teach at the Pine Mountain workshops and spread the knowledge. My original intent was educating Kentuckians but with such high caliber instructors for the workshops we had attendees from over 30 states and as far away as California.
An example of how knowledge spreads - Jim Houston came and taught 3 workshops on the art of making and installing large board shingles. The 30" long shingles were split from massive 36" diameter white oak rounds. 3 generations of the descendants of the founder of Pine Mountain Settlement School learned to make shingles like their many grandfather and helped put a new roof on his house, located on the school grounds. Another attendee was inspired to put a authentic new roof on the Gladie Cabin in the Daniel Boone National Forest. I was pleased to be able to assist with this project, instructing volunteers in a series of day long shingle making efforts and ultimately leading a group of Job Corps members and Forest Service staff in installing a new roof. I've continued with the skills Jim taught me by teaching others on a project in Frankfort KY.
Since I left the Kentucky Heritage Council, I have continued working within the preservation field assisting with window workshops with the likes of Bob Yapp and Jim Turner, two nationally recognized window restoration experts.
For me, PTN opened doors to preservation I never knew existed. PTN introduced me to preservation experts and became a source of wonderful friends. It changed my life for the better and continues to do so. I heartily endorse membership in PTN to anyone involved in the historic preservation field.
Restoration Projects Limited