Old House People: Theodore G. and Blanche E. Brydon

The Nevada Preservation Foundation would like to thank our second Founding Donor! From the estate of preservationists Theodore G. and Blanche E. Brydon, a donation of $3,000 has been made in their loving memory.

Old House People

Theodore G. and Blanche E. BrydonSelf-professed “old house people,” Ted and Blanche restored a 19th-century stone farmhouse in Colebrookdale, Pennsylvania, during the 1950s and a WWI-vintage bungalow in Hopewell, Virginia, during the 1960s. Searching for a challenging project to keep them busy in retirement, they found the Strachan-Harrison house on High Street in Petersburg, Virginia. It was built in the mid-18th century and is one of the oldest structures in the city. The derelict, overgrown property had been obtained by the then-fledgling Historic Petersburg Foundation, whose purpose, like that of the NPF, is to encourage the preservation and restoration of the area’s historic architecture. The Brydons were able to buy it from the Foundation with the understanding that they would bring it back to life in a way that preserved its original character.

At that time, many of Petersburg’s 18th- and 19th-century homes were in a state of neglect and disrepair, the consequence of a number of economic setbacks suffered by the city during the late 20th century. But Petersburg is proud of its rich history. The city was occupied by the British during the American Revolution and besieged by the Union Army during the American Civil War. The Brydons joined a small, but determined, group of citizens who believed that the one-time thriving tobacco, cotton and iron manufacturing center could make yet another comeback.

Strachan-Harrison House Helps Build Community

“Most people thought we were crazy. They couldn’t imagine spending time, let alone money in such a ‘questionable’ neighborhood,” Ted explained at the time. But gradually, in the early 1970s, more preservation-minded families began to migrate to High Street from Petersburg’s suburbs and beyond, drawn by the opportunity to own a piece of history and by the developing camaraderie among the preservation enthusiasts on the street. The neighbors soon formed the High Street Association which, along with the Historic Petersburg Foundation, lobbied to have a zoning ordinance passed “to develop an historical district not as a museum but as a vital inner city living area.” The ordinance and the dedicated personal initiative of those homeowners set the stage for the revitalization of downtown Petersburg. Thanks to them, much of the architecture of the city’s past remains today, and the city once again sees the bustle of business (with many shop owners reverting to the practice of living over their stores), dining, nightlife, the arts and tourism. 

To the Brydons, restoration and preservation of architecture went hand-in-hand with the restoration and preservation of community. Throughout the years in their various neighborhoods they worked to bring together preservation-minded residents, long-time homeowners with their sense of neighborhood history and all of those in between. They actively promoted community events and get-togethers, creating opportunities for neighborhood information exchanges, lobbied for infrastructure improvements and zoning protections and shone the spotlight on improvements that were made to area properties. Blanche was an avid gardener who helped to landscape public spaces and shared plants that even today can be found in lush landscapes on High Street and beyond. 

Brydons Leave Their Mark on Preservation

Fifty years ago, the Brydons and their neighbors realized the significance of Petersburg and its historic neighborhoods and worked to preserve them for generations to come. The NPF’s mission in Las Vegas is the same. As grandparents of an NPF member who resides in Paradise Palms, the Brydons would be proud to support this new generation of preservationists.

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