Old News

Letter from the Editor


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Working on this issue, I found myself thinking about the collection of tiny vintage bottles I had as a kid.

Glimmering in shades of lime, turquoise, deep green, and amber, the exquisite glass forms adorned my bedroom dresser. I’d shine them up regularly and rearrange them every so often — or add a new one and boot one out.

Once I was a teen, I thought the collection was dumb, so I packed the glass objects into a shoebox and placed them on my closet shelf. Over time, I must have needed more storage space (for clothes, no doubt!), so out the bottles went.

I don’t think my parents ever knew about the things I’d throw into the trash on a whim. One day, it was a set of detailed, porcelain angels — each one given to me by my godmother on a special occasion. When I turned about 14, I thought, Why would I want those on my bedside table?

When I saw the Detroit dairy bottles ("Living History," page 32) that Bary Seldon found on his property when renovating his 1846 home, I thought of my bottles. And as the photos of Rima Belau’s farmhouse finds ("Old House, New Life," page 54) — including some fantastic century-old bottles that she discovered  buried beneath her porch — popped up on my computer screen, I again felt a chill and heard a little voice say, “Don’t you wish you still had your childhood bottle collection, Megan?” Belau even grouped a few cool antique seltzer bottles on her living room coffee table ("Old House, New Life," page 60).

In the past few months, I’ve met or heard stories about dozens of fascinating folks who are passionate about salvaging, repurposing, antiquing, reclaiming, researching, cherishing, renewing, saving, upcycling … and all of these concepts swirled into some sort of historic karma that I couldn’t ignore.

With that, this issue’s accent on history explores the homes and lifestyles of people ranging from Seldon, who opened the doors of his historic gem (Living History, page 30), to interior designer Jennifer Taylor and her Up North retreat (A Wonder in the Woods, page 46), outfitted with 100-year-old barn wood.

“We live in such a disposable society, and the fascination for history diminishes,” Seldon tells us. “Living in this house has changed how I see a lot of things.” Designer Belau wants her young children to catch on to the value of the past, so she invited them to be a part of her recent farmhouse restoration ("Old House, New Life," page 54)

Then there’s visionary Liz Ware. You won’t see her in this issue, but perhaps she’ll be featured in a future edition. I don’t know how many times I’d biked past the old 1906 “Silver Birches” on Mackinac Island, wondering what the heck that falling-down, rambling resort/lodge-style building was, or whether it would ever be lovingly restored to its glorious past. And voila …Ware recently told me the cedar-shake structure is, indeed, in good hands — hers! She showed me the restoration work she and her team have done thus far, and shared that she plans to restore it to its former use. Can you imagine: All of the construction supplies are delivered by horse and wagon (automobiles were banned from the village in 1898)? That’s pure dedication to restoring Michigan’s history.

Lest you think modern design has no place in the world of history, think about how so many designers and homeowners are incorporating old into their new homes or updated spaces. Designer Jill-Maria Ferrier, for example, has brought her passion for her husband’s Scottish heritage, along with centuries-old antiques and vintage artwork, into her chic and updated Bloomfield Hills haven (Welcome Home, page 62; see it on the Birmingham Home Tour Sept. 16).

Even our featured kitchen homeowners take a “sentimental journey” as they reveal stories about how treasures or experiences from the past help make their kitchens the heart of the home.

Oh, what I’d give to have my little bottle collection sitting on a shelf in my kitchen today!

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