How Are Older Buildings Reusable?

Long Lasting Effect

When historic buildings were created, they were made to last a long time, which is why we see that they’re still around. As technology advanced, it was realized that using cheaper materials was a way to cut costs in our products, so that is why most products don’t last as long as the older ones do/did. This isn’t such a good thing for the products we buy today, but what is good is that we still have old things because they were meant to last. Despite most older buildings being in slightly good or okay conditions, there are people who would rather destroy them for their own use. The saying, “In with the new, out with the old” is stuck in some peoples minds and they can’t wait to tear the buildings down. My question for them is: Why should we get rid of something that is still able to be used?

Reusable Buildings

The materials that the houses and buildings were created with are actually reusable, so we do not have to throw them away into a landfill, despite what some people may want to do. Historical places were often built with materials that were meant to last, which is why we still have them today. The kind of buildings that I am writing about are not technically historical buildings, but older buildings that are seen as an eyesore in our communities. They might not be deemed historical places, but they are still valuable because of their integrity.

Buildings themselves are actually reusable, especially older buildings. They can be turned into museums, community centers, office buildings, apartments, etc. There are so many reasons and uses for these buildings. An example of this in my hometown is the new Hercules apartment buildings. This was the former site of the Hercules Engine Company that dates back to 1870. For many years, it was just a huge rundown area where there might be Halloween or minor events, but it was just something you drove by and didn’t think about. Now that it has been reconstructed, it looks beautiful. When you drive by it now, you slow down and look at its spectacular view and outside lights, especially at night. When you visit their site, their description reads “Hercules has created a community where no two apartments are exactly alike. Exposed brick and towering ceilings pay homage to the community’s industrial roots while key fob locking systems and gourmet kitchens with wide, island counters enhance the contemporary appeal.” This is a pretty good way to advertise what they are doing and how they are still preserving the historical integrity of the building and what it originally was. The new company is taking over and creating something new and beautiful, while keeping the historic value of it still in view.

Reusable Materials

There are many reusable materials found in old buildings. Windows, bricks, doors, etc. are just some of the most valuable materials that are often still in good condition of older houses. Why is that? Like I said before, materials were meant to last and not meant to be replaced every 5 years or so. In addition to this, the way newer materials are created and installed make it difficult to salvage them when they’re decaying, so they are more than likely going to be thrown away in a landfill.

  • Windows of older houses typically are made of wood that is not available or as sustainable to what we have now. There are ways to combat this by also keeping those windows. This would be to add storm windows to the outside of the building or house so that the original windows can stay in tact.

These buildings often do not need a full transformation because they are still sustainable, but all old objects need to be fixed up. While developers can say that it is cheaper to rebuild a building rather than restore it or reuse it, they are wrong. A good alternative to destruction is rehabilitation.


Terms to Define

  • Restorationthe act of taking a building back to its original state or back to a certain time period of its existence. Oftentimes, restoration involves preserving the wood, windows, roof, etc unless they are so damaged that they need to bring in non-original matters into the restoration.
  • RehabilitationAcknowledges the need to alter or add to a historic property to meet continuing or changing uses while retaining the property’s historic character. This is the most commonly used and flexible standard for rehabilitation at a federal, state, and local level.


Environmental Conditions in Historic House Museums.” Historic New England. Web. October 2018. Retrieved from: Environmental Conditions in Historic House Museums

“Hercules Apartments.” Live at Hercules. Web. 22 Oct. 2018. Retrieved from: Hercules Apartment Building

Holbrook, Jessica. “A peek inside new apartments at Hercules.” The Canton Repository. 24 November 2017. Web. October 2018. Retrieved from:A Peek Into Hercules Apartments

MacAskill, Jaye. “Historic Preservation & Environmental Conservation.” Save Our Heritage Organisation. Volume 40, Issue 1. 2009. Web. October 2018. Retrieved from: Historic Preservation & Environmental Conservation

WBDG Historic Preservation Subcommittee, The. “Sustainable Historic Preservation.” WBDG Whole Building Design Guide. 27 September 2017. Web. October 2018. Retrieved from: Sustainable Historic Preservation

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