Tuesday, May 29, 2007


We like to follow the evolution of older buildings we encounter along our way. We often try to figure out what they had been based upon what remains of them today. In a cruise through Orangeburg, SC, we spotted this little place on Maple Street.

An excavation suggests the removal of underground fuel tanks and the remnants of pump fittings confirm that it had been a gas station with a small service bay area. The extended drive-through window is clearly a retrofit which hints that the building may have done brief service as some sort of convenience store. Artificial flowers now rest in a vase in that window.

The steel rebar cage which is fashioned about the window AC unit hints at a reasonable fear of unauthorized removal. It is clear that the immediate neighborhood is not yet on the short list for regentrification.

We see hundreds of nice little concrete block structures which, but for a failed roof would be candidates for reclamation. A bad or collapsed roof can made the difference for buyers of limited means. Once the roof goes the building follows quickly. While there is some deferred maintenance, the roof has not been neglected. The economics of using preowned materials on such places is obvious. The great variety of colors and surfaces on the replacement shingles tells us that they didn't collect them at one location alone.

The crazy quilt effect of the roof shingles really caught our eye. It reminds us of maritime signal flags. If there's a message in the assortment it may be telling prospective buyers that someone cared enough to keep patching the roof wherever and whenever necessary. There's a little SOS here asking for help before this, too, slips into the abyss of lost buildings.


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