Friday, December 19, 2014

A Very Special Project: Baltimore Brick by Brick

The notebook shown above belonged to a high school student named Dorothy Bolden, who apparently used it in her English class in 1963. It's one of many objects that have been discovered in the course of a remarkable project that's unfolding in Baltimore.

The project is called Baltimore Brick by Brick, and it's a great example of what's called "unbuilding" or "deconstruction." It basically works like this: A group called Details Deconstruction has been given access to a blighted block of abandoned houses in East Baltimore. Instead of just demolishing the buildings and sending the demo'd materials to a landfill, they're taking the buildings apart — brick by brick, floorboard by floorboard, and so on — and making the materials available for resale and reuse. Along the way they're finding all sorts of interesting objects and artifacts, which they're documenting on the project's website. It's all very Permanent Record.

The notebook shown above was featured in the website's "Friday Finds" section, a weekly tally of found objects that's updated each Friday. (You can see the full entry regarding the notebook here.) There's also a gallery of the various wallpapers that have been found in the houses, a section devoted to the various people who lived at a given address, a closer look at the bricks that are being salvaged, and more. It feels like a really special project, and I encourage all PermaRec readers to poke around on the website, which is full of fascinating details. It's totally worth your time — trust me.

(Big thanks to Spencer Mierzejewski for letting me know about this one.)

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