How Hurricane Responses Have Changed Since The Victorian Era

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Today, people tend to think of hurricanes as horrible natural disasters. And, there’s no denying the damage they cause and the lives they can destroy. But, they also have had a huge impact on our country’s formation and course of history.

Even in the 16th and 17th centuries, strong storms and hurricanes caused problems like capsizing ships and rerouting settlers. As we know it, our country could be vastly different if it weren’t for these storms taking place.

During the Victorian era, hurricanes changed the course of agriculture and slave labor in America. One major hurricane in 1893 was the most damaging to ever strike South Carolina and the second most deadly in the U.S. 

Hurricanes might not be shaping our history as much these days, but they still get a lot of well-deserved attention. So, from Galveston to Katrina, and every major storm in-between, how have hurricane responses changed since the Victorian era?

The Major Hurricanes of the Victorian Era

The largest and most devastating hurricane throughout the Victorian era was undoubtedly Galveston. In fact, it remains the worst hurricane in U.S. history, often referred to as The Great Storm of 1900.

Some of the staggering statistics to come from this catastrophic event are still difficult to believe, including:

  • Over 6,000 deaths
  • $35.4 million in damage costs (over $1 billion today)
  • 15-foot storm surges that flooded the city

One interesting fact about this hurricane is that a seawall was supposed to be built before 1900 to protect the city. But, a respected meteorologist at the time dismissed the idea by saying the city could never be hit by a powerful enough hurricane to do any damage. Had that wall been built, Galveston may not have seen as much damage or flooding.

The biggest problem with this hurricane and other storms in the Victorian era was that people were ill-prepared. The U.S. Weather Bureau (now known as the National Weather Service) was only 10 years old when the Galveston hurricane hit, and its communication policies were lacking. They weren’t able to adequately give people time to evacuate or prepare in any way. Efforts were focused more on cleaning up after the disaster than preparing for before the storm made landfall.

Changes Over the Years

So many advancements have been made over the years to better equip those living in hurricane-heavy areas. Some of the old Victorian homes that have survived can be staged with their original charm, but given upgrades to help them withstand strong winds and rain. More modern houses in those areas are often built with more structural integrity, including features like:

  • Concrete fortification
  • Steel framework
  • Quick-drying construction materials
  • Square or hexagonal roofs that can withstand strong winds

Many homes in hurricane-affected areas also have hurricane windows, which were originally developed in the 1930s. Hurricane windows are strong and durable, meant to withstand harsh winds better than any traditional window. So, you won’t return home to an exposed house and shattered glass everywhere. You’ll also often see people boarding up their windows before a hurricane hits. That isn’t always necessary with hurricane windows. But, it can provide greater peace of mind if you’re going to be gone from your house for a while.

The most important change over the years is the use of technology. Obviously, it has come a long way since the 1800s-1900s. But, it’s being used to give people plenty of time to get to safety and take care of their homes. Hurricanes will always be devastating. But, the more you know about them ahead of time, the safer you can be.

The Impact of Hurricanes Today

Studies have shown that the hurricanes of today are more intense than those in the Victorian era. A lot of this has to do with changing weather patterns, and even climate change. But, the general patterns and timeframes of hurricanes have remained the same. Depending on where you live in the country, you know there is a “hurricane season”, from June to November every year.

Thanks to modern technology, we can now better detect hurricanes long before they reach landfall. That gives people in the path of the storm an opportunity to evacuate or prepare their homes.

Still, hurricanes are nothing to take lightly today. We might have better technology and more solutions to keep our homes safe. But, hurricanes are still deadly. Galveston remains the worst in U.S. history. Maria and Katrina aren’t far behind, both occurring in the 2000s and claiming more than 2,000 and 1,000 lives, respectively.

Hurricane season will continue to come to the U.S. every year, leaving destruction in its path. While you can’t prevent it, you can be grateful for the ways you can protect yourself and your home now that simply weren’t available during the Victorian era.

4 Tips For Staging Your Victorian Home To Sell While Maintaining Its Integrity

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You might worry if your 100-year old house can be desirable to a large housing market when it comes to selling your historic Victorian home. What truly matters is the bare bones of the house being complemented by an aesthetically pleasing interior.

Think about what made you fall in love with your Victorian home. The original hardwood floors and architectural details likely tell all sorts of stories and capture uniqueness in every room. Step it up a notch by staging your home to show its versatility. Creating an appealing representation of your home can help buyers better visualize themselves enjoying the space like you did.

Staging makes a difference. It bridges the gap between the upscale HGTV world and how welcoming and charming a Victorian home can be, without the need for major changes. Here are four home staging techniques that work best with Victorian homes.

1.   Make Modern Updates in Key Rooms

A charming period home needs to appeal to modern-day buyers. Certain precautions for buyers to think about include the fact that this is an older property that could need some fixing up. However, there’s no need to make major updates or renovations if you’re selling your older home, because all that does is take away from its true personality that matters most. It’s important to prioritize the functionality of your home.

The first impression all starts with the initial sights walking up to the front door to inside the entrance. Is the front door original and assembled well onto the house? Is the doorknob intact? Inside, buyers will be looking for those original stunning structural details, high ceilings, and hardwood floors. But what they won’t be looking for is outdated appliances, plumbing, or heating and cooling systems that could fail them. You can provide buyers with an inspection, documentation, and additional incentive by transferring your home warranty to the buyer on new and existing appliances in the home. Doing so ensures protection against both the buyer and seller’s budget throughout this property transition if anything were to break down as it covers repairs and replacements. Plus, it allows peace of mind during the entire process, leading to a quicker sale on the market.

2.   Display Rooms to Feel Spacious

The last thing you want is for your home to feel limited and crowded during showings. Take the time to declutter spaces in order for buyers to truly envision themselves living in the space one day. With things like collections or personal photos sitting around, it can be difficult and overwhelming to see areas for what they really are.

It’s also crucial to make smart use of any awkward spaces your home might have. These are common in older homes as they tend to have a set up with a spot where there’s no purpose. Minimize these areas and transform them into a conversation space where you can make it a mudroom, coffee bar, or a nice decorated corner with shelving. Add seating, windows, and lighting as you see fit to make it flow along with the rest of the house.

If your home is vacant, it can be staged with some simple furniture to show the potential of each room when buyers move in their own furniture. That way, these organizing methods can give the new homeowners just what they pictured.

3.   Emphasize Architectural Details

Architectural qualities are one of the main reasons buyers are drawn to your property. People are interested in the charm, character, and preserved original structures that your home has to offer over others. Be sure to describe details of original aspects, fireplace mantels, rosette accents, building materials used, and more that differentiate your timeless home. Create focal points in your living spaces by arranging furniture to spotlight and draw attention to things such as decorative plasterwork and moldings. The more they see, the more curious they will become.

4.   Stage for the Modern Buyer

The goal of staging your home is to simply maximize the appeal for buyer’s envisions resulting in a quicker sale. It doesn’t have to involve big purchases, but you can use what you already own. Show potential buyers how their lifestyle could look with completed rooms. You’ll want to do this without filling it with outdated pieces of furniture which can take away from the comfort and charm your house has to offer. Many historic homes have a mix of furniture and decor that represent history as well as modern touches. As you find the balance between vintage and contemporary styles of design, buyers will be able to see how easy it is to include a variety.

Don’t forget the smaller updates! Even painting and lighting any dark spots with warmer temperature lightbulbs can significantly bring a breath of fresh air to any room. Take advantage of your windows and remove heavy draperies if needed to let in as much natural light as possible so that all features of each room are completely visible.

Selling your home can be quite a challenge, especially if you have a much older property, but it doesn’t have to feel like a burden. With some preparation, staging, and minor updating, you’ll be able to sell your historic Victorian home quickly, while maintaining its integrity. Focus on originality and detailing to showcase your home’s unique history that the market is sure to snatch up.

5 Ways to Add Victorian Charm to Your Modern Home

Finding a genuine, historic Victorian home within your budget and without necessary repairs may be more challenging than ever in today’s world. However, this isn’t stopping dreamers from reaching their home goals with some work. People are even moving far distances to smaller cities and paying high renovation prices if they discover the right one. Recent findings have shown that many millennials are buying historic homes, fueled by the changes of the pandemic. Additionally, owners of a quickly growing Instagram page called Cheap Old Houses, featuring older houses for sale, state they want to bridge the gap between younger generations and historic homes.

With some possible adjusting and a bit of renovating, people are successfully acquiring the homes of their dreams. If historic Victorian beauty is what you imagine your home to have, there are ways to renovate your current house without having to move and face large competition.

Learn about the variety of ways you can add charming Victorian features to your modern home and see how these modifications can make all the difference to your inspiration.

1.   Construct the Interior Aesthetic with a Showstopper

From inviting crown moldings in doorways, refreshing and unique light fixtures, tasteful wallpaper designs, and eye-catching mosaic tiles, historic homes bring a comforting feeling you can easily surround yourself with. Before you know it, remodels like these will have every room reminding you of the lovely Victorian aesthetic, which can still be incorporated with modern smart tech. While adding these elements into your home, place the newer aspects closely around vintage decor to ensure it all blends together seamlessly.

Unforgettably, one of the truest showstoppers in Victorian homes has proved to be a grand, elegant staircase. This truly sets the tone for the rest of your home as it takes up a good amount of space. Unique railing posts with ornate carvings and embellishments undoubtedly sets a modern-Victorian home apart from others. While you’re at it, why not add a vintage accent rug at the bottom with a scrollwork design to pull the environment together.

2.   Change the Plain Ceiling

Your ceiling is probably one of the last places you’d look to add character to. It certainly isn’t the center of attention for a room, but it can be. Victorians often were inspired by creating a story within their interiors; this means having a beginning, middle, and ending (that being the ceiling). Get creative with your ceiling and install a medallion to attract the eye. Not only is this architectural detail unique, but it’s especially useful for practically covering a light fixture’s ceiling box. This additionally opens the door to beautiful chandelier ideas to include some sparkling effects to your space. In general, medallions are most fitting for larger rooms, but there are plenty of sizes to choose from for the perfect ratio within the room.

3.   Remodel a Timeless Kitchen

Kitchens from the Victorian era are hallmarked by their use of space, pastel palette choices, and overall romantic look. Once you step into one, you’ll notice the unique design elements and functionality almost immediately, giving you a refreshing feeling. Before you know it, the “heart of your home” will have a new meaning as you join with family and friends in the grand space. Many have also continued the tradition of simplistic built-in bookcases, which can save you more space in any house while also keeping rooms looking tidy. Some have the options to be completely covered to blend in or open to display your belongings visibly on a shelf. Others even follow the feature of incorporating a window to match most Victorian cabinets in the kitchen. Take advantage of a lovely feature like this and even use it to display pieces of floral or patterned china rather than storing them away completely.

4.   Design an Elegant Bathroom

When renovating your space, keep in mind that while looks and decor is all fun and important, you’re also enhancing your own daily lifestyle. Don’t forget to consistently incorporate Victorian stylistic designs into other spaces, such as your bathroom. Consider adding Victorian touches, like a piece of antique furniture or artwork, framing the mirror with scrollwork, replacing your current bath with a luxurious clawfoot tub, and installing vintage-inspired faucet taps.

Though these are some of the most memorable trademarks of a Victorian bathroom, many modern bathrooms make it a bit difficult to include everything. This is often because of minimal space or inconvenient constructed placements. If you want to go all out without limiting your designing abilities or hurting your budget, many people consider supporting their budget with a home equity loan. This type of loan can get you the quick updated change you want, while even providing fixed interest rates to ensure you don’t get off track financially from getting the most elegant bathroom of your dreams. Plus, a newer bathroom renovation adds value to your home and often shows to be highly sought after on the real estate market.

5.   Create a Welcoming, Classy Exterior

One of the most favorable parts about a Victorian home is that you can also enjoy its endless charm from outdoors as well. Certain elements such as vintage doorknobs, window shutters, porch trim, and wrought iron railings can encapsulate original curb appeal to your home. However, installing a transom window above your front door will have you falling most in love with all of the natural light it brings in. As it serves this beneficial purpose, you can also play around with what designs gravitate toward your overall aesthetic, whether it’s artsy stained glass or classic paneling. If you want to take your housing exterior to the next level, think about the roof. One of the first ways you can spot a Victorian home is by its historic metal shingles with embossed designs. Once you include features like these, your charming Victorian-looking home will be sure to become the most memorable house in the neighborhood.

As you begin renovating your modern home to look more historic, remember that you can successfully preserve the authentic Victorian style you’re looking for. Simply think of the design aspects mentioned above that help certain features work together in harmony. This type of architecture with beholders of the past may even become one of the most popular homes once again.

How Far the Vote Has Come in America Since the Victorian Age

Voting. It is both a sacred right and profound responsibility. It is the symbol of a free and democratic society. It is the ultimate exercise of liberty.

And yet the history of voting in America is a long and complex one. There have been enormous changes in the American electoral process since the Victorian era, but one thing has remained the same: the ballot as the cornerstone of the American ideal.

For My Eyes Only?

One of the biggest changes in the American voting system since the Victorian age is the emergence of the idea of the private ballot. For most of early American history, voting was a much-publicized process. It evolved from vocal votes in the Revolutionary era to public, signature-based ballots.

By the late Victorian era, though, an aura of sacred privacy had come to surround the vote. A man’s ballot — and in this era, it was still only a man’s ballot — was his business alone. His right to his ballot was as inviolate as his right to the other core Constitutional freedoms: life, liberty, property.

Indeed, his vote was his way of guaranteeing these fundamental freedoms. It was his ticket to the pursuit of happiness. And it was shrouded in the same reverential secrecy of the personal home or the marital bed.

Super Suffragettes

This idea of the ballot as both the guarantee and the exercise of a man’s Constitutionally-protected rights, of course, didn’t exactly sit well with all those who were denied the same privilege. For modern women, the idea of a woman having the right to vote is a no-brainer. It’s so obvious it seems unnecessary to even have to state it outright.

But for the Victorians, things weren’t nearly so easy or so obvious. The Victorian girl’s ultimate goal in life, the one toward which she would be working from the moment she drew her first breath, was to marry well and start a home and family of her own.

Once that was done, well, she was pretty much set — at least as far as any kind of public or civic life was concerned. For the typical Victorian household, shaped by traditional ideals, the man’s political voice was the voice of his household, of which he was the head. And that meant that when a man voted, he voted for his wife and his children.

To enfranchise his wife, daughter, sister, mother, or aunt was to invite potential discord within the Victorian home. It was to sow division in what should be a cohesive, harmonious unit, the men operating in their given sphere (public life) and women operating in theirs (private life).

But while the separate spheres doctrine might sound all idyllic in theory, the reality was far darker. Women’s political disenfranchisement had often devastating consequences, essentially making them “non-persons” in the eyes of the law. That meant that they faced severe restrictions in everything from accessing education to owning property and even to retaining custody of their children in the event of a divorce.    

This was the political environment in which American women of the Victorian era began to fight for their right to vote. The struggle for women’s suffrage was a long and hard one, beginning in 1848 with the Seneca Fall Convention and ending in 1920, with the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Not So Fast

As revolutionary as the granting of women’s suffrage might have been in American political history, we still had a long way to go in 1920. Racial minorities and the poor were routinely denied their right to vote, and states came up with myriad dirty tricks to make that happen.

In the Jim Crow south, for example, tactics such as literacy tests, “poll taxes” and property tests, and grandfather clauses were used to restrict the vote largely to middle and upper-class whites. It wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act was ratified in 1965 that these exclusionary practices were formally outlawed.

But agitation for the extension of voting rights to all adult American citizens did not end there. Until 1971 and the enactment of the 26th Amendment, the national voting age had been 21. That was problematic, given that for decades, men as young as 18 were being sent to fight and die in America’s wars, with tens of thousands still being drafted to serve in Vietnam at that time.

The national enfranchisement of 18-year-olds allowed America’s young soldiers and veterans to have a voice in the government they were putting their lives on the line for. And this helped them shape the policies that would shape their lives both during and after service, such as policies related to GI housing, education, employment, and healthcare

The Takeaway

The vote is perhaps the most iconic symbol of a free society. But even in a nation founded on liberty, this fundamental human right has not been easily or quickly won. Women, minorities, the poor, and the young have had to fight for their place in our political system, for the right to have a voice and to exercise the liberty that, today, too many of us take for granted.

 

Historic Preservation: What Are the Most Necessary Renovations & Updates?

Historic preservation is a rewarding experience that requires a love of history and an understanding of design. Before you begin the journey, it’s essential to assess what to renovate or update and what to leave alone. That largely depends on the state of the property, but there are universal rules to follow and factors to consider when you tackle a period house.

The Exterior Part of the Equation

The exterior of the house or building is one of the most important aspects of the property. Many of the exterior details likely caught your attention and drew you to the property in the first place. The last thing you want to do is update the house so much that you eliminate historic nostalgia or the details that drew your eye in the first place.

Before beginning to renovate or update the building, it’s wise to check out the rest of the neighborhood, as well. Typically, all of the buildings and homes in a historic neighborhood will have a similar aesthetic. Stucco siding or an unsightly deck could take away from the cohesiveness of the entire neighborhood. Inasmuch as you can, try to preserve the facade of the house as it applies to roofing, siding, and wood or wrought ironwork.

That being said, you can work with historic architects and designers to update features in a way that retains the structure’s authenticity. Updating a property doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you have to change the way it looks. You can simply upgrade certain items with modern equivalents made to look like the originals. You can also seek out authentic features from the original time period.

 

Let There Be LightThe lighting in older houses often leaves something to be desired. Owners of historic properties are then at a loss. Do you preserve the original appearance of the interior, or do you illuminate the space with modern lighting that may be too bright?

Fortunately, those aren’t the only choices any longer. Many new, modern lights resemble vintage lighting options. You can always preserve the look of the lighting by opting for antique fixtures. Failing that, you can also invest in new fixtures that are deliberately designed to have a vintage patina.

The same is true for light bulbs. You don’t necessarily want to outfit your home with old-fashioned filament bulbs, which blow out frequently and are costly to upkeep. However, it’s possible to maintain an old look while using eco-friendly light bulbs. If you enjoy the charming appearance of an authentic Edison bulb, for example, you can light up your home with LED equivalents that come in a variety of color temperatures and brightness. That goes for period-inspired outdoor lighting, as well.

Pairing Safety and Historic Accuracy

 Replacing door knobs and locks causes debate among preservationists and people who are interested in renovating historic properties. The hardware on exterior doors is often gorgeous, not to mention indicative of the period. Regrettably, it can be faulty, as well. You’re left to decide if you want to risk a malfunctioning door lock or install new, glaringly modern knobs—right?

That’s the thought, but you needn’t go to extremes. Even if it means adding an additional lock and saving the original knob, you can carefully select a style and finish that evokes the time period and matches both the existing hardware and the overall appearance of the door.

Check the Pipes

 Water damage is a disaster in historic spaces. No matter what, make sure you check the pipes. Peer up at the ceilings and tap on the walls to assess possible water damage, as well. There’s no need to stick to authentic antique pipes. Upgrade for the sake and safety of the house.

Bathroom and Kitchen Updates

Most historic homeowners and preservationists agree that the bathroom(s) and kitchen are the rooms often in need of updating, but this can be a matter of preference. Plenty of folks appreciate kitchens and bathrooms with original features and fixtures, such as farmer’s sinks or 1920s tile. In that case, you can still update your space. Search for preserved and refurbished appliances and decor to install in your home.

Otherwise, feel free to upgrade where you see fit. You may crave a glass-enclosed shower over an old clawfoot tub. The kitchen may be crying out for a dishwasher. As long as you strive to maintain the integrity of the architecture and introduce period-appropriate decor and knickknacks inside, you can embrace modern conveniences in the rooms that need them most.

What do you choose to retain and renovate when you take on a historic property? Let us know the features you try to keep and what you prefer to replace.

Author Bio: Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and former HR professional. She enjoys writing about events, travel, decorating trends, and innovations for the home, but also covers developments in HR, business communication, recruiting, real estate, and finance.