Vinyl siding: Love it or hate it?

Well, apparently pigs fly. Here’s a post I never thought I’d write. When I was in grad school for historic preservation, I would have balked at the idea of reading a post singing the praises of vinyl siding, let alone authoring one. Vinyl siding is the butt of many a preservation joke. It’s just so EASY. Covering your house in plastic? Seriously?

But I’ll admit, since starting the Wooden House Project I’ve developed a soft spot for the stuff, and with this post I offer my argument as to why it’s not as bad as everyone likes to think. I’m aware that this is a highly divisive topic, and I’m certainly not suggesting that we all go out and clad our houses in vinyl siding (or aluminum or asphalt, which I’m lumping in here as well). Why? Watch this. I’m just saying we shouldn’t be so quick to hate on it.

My five reasons, after the jump >


If you haven’t yet jumped aboard the wooden house train, hopefully this one will convince you. Earlier in the week we received an email from a wonderful couple who – yay! – recently purchased a house on 11th Street between 2nd & 3rd Avenues in Gowanus. I am familiar with and love this eclectic little block (I’ve never written about this one, but have covered adjacent blocks here and here).

The c. 1940 tax photo above is clearly channeling Webster Place, but like so many other little gems like this, it wound up with the aluminum treatment.

Fortunately, it’s in good hands >


229 11th Street

I left the world of preservation advocacy over a year ago, and in the time since I’ve focused much more on education, research and writing. I’ve always been drawn to the celebratory side of things – I prefer to “slip historic preservation into the drink,” as Chelcey likes to say. But sometimes, circumstances come along that leave me no choice but to make a big fuss. The planned demolition of a significant portion of one of my favorite streetscapes is one of them.

Eleventh Street between 3rd & 4th Avenues was one of the first blocks I wrote about after starting the Wooden House Project (a photo of the block is our Facebook profile picture). Those of you who came on our Gingerbread Houses of the South Slope walking tour earlier in the month heard me say how special it was — that it would be worth visiting this block in a few years to see a beautiful and cohesive block of restored wooden houses (only a very small handful of houses on the end of the block are brick). Something that would change our perception of these homes as disposable. The renaissance has been in full swing here for several years — an inspiration to wooden rowhouse owners everywhere. And an inspiration to me. I used to walk down this block every day on my way to my old office in Gowanus. It reaffirmed all my reasons for starting the Wooden House Project.

Brownstoner broke the news back in May that permits had been filed for the demolition of the six easternmost houses on the north side of the block: 233 – 243 11th Street.

Not happy about this >