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Introduction to Resources

With few exceptions McLean County houses were built to be comfortable for middle and working class families, not luxurious. Craftsman, Dutch Colonial, Italianate, Prairie, Queen Anne, Richardsonian Romanesque, Second Empire, Shingle, Stick, Tudor, and Vernacular are words we use to refer to what we see. Styles and forms vary through the years but all provide a sense of time and place, of stability and continuity.

Since 1979 the Old House Society has been putting together people and their old houses so that they understand each other better. It's a partnership. In the last few years our mission has grown to include historic buildings of all kinds, 1822 -1950, as well as their landscapes, gardens, and neighborhoods. Our membership adds its collective voice to the growing national realization that old houses and their settings are special, both to the owners and to the community.

The idea of our Resources sections is to offer information about how to understand your old house. Only by knowing your house can you understand its character, take full advantage of the very qualities you admire most; and, design a practical maintenance plan to protect it so that restoration is never necessary. If restoration is necessary, we will help you find out how to do that. Helpful information is multi-disciplinary and is widely available; here are just a few places to look: books and publications, membership organizations, technical advice, internet sites, governmental agencies, preservation groups, plans, models and examples, and people who live in old houses. Some sources are well known and others not, but there are so many choices you can easily find the resources that help.

Offering an explanation written for a layperson rather than a professional, we suggest ways to think about the research process, places to look, people to ask. We simplify the process by organizing the information into the basics with suggestions of where to look further as time or interest allows. If the owner has a basic understanding, a framework if you will, he or she can then fit in the more complex and technical pieces. For example, if you understand the history of your house and know something about its style, materials, and site, you now have the basics into which you can fit more pieces of discovery. For all readers who are interested in knowing more about their structures and their continuing needs, our Resources section is a place to begin.