July 14, 2015

[Video] A Project of Stewardship in Savannah

Giselle Rahn and her fiancé Matt in front of the Savannah house they are rehabbing.

Most stories about renovating an old house have to do with crumbling plaster and rotting sills. But when Giselle Rahn and her boyfriend took on the restoration of a 110-year-old house in Savannah, they soon recognized that they also faced complex issues involving social and economic status and racial disparity.

Rahn, a practicing designer who also teaches at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), relates her experiences in a thoughtful and compelling TEDx talk, which was held May 1, 2015, in Savannah and organized by the Creative Coast.

Like many people, Rahn and her boyfriend fantasized about buying an old place and fixing it up. The couple eventually found a vacant house located in Savannah’s Starland District -- a house that was “melancholy but full of promise,” according to Rahn. During her TEDx talk, Rahn’s description of the condition of the house generated laughter from the audience as they saw pictures of the vivid pink hallway and abandoned piano on the first floor. But her talk soon took a more poignant turn as she describes having to evict a squatter during the winter months and put his belongings out on the curb.

During her talk, Rahn explains that a big part of the experience was sitting down with former owner who wanted to know how they would take care of the house. She notes that preservation is really an act of stewardship -- knowing that you are not the first person to live in the house or the last. You are there to take care of it.

Read more about Giselle Rahn's rehabilitation project on the Preservation Leadership Forum blog.

By: Elizabeth Byrd Wood, Senior Content Manager, Preservation Leadership Forum

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