A house turns into a home at the Park City Museum
John Howard Payne’s American folk ballad "Home, Sweet Home" states, "Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home."
The Park City Museum’s new exhibit "House and Home" gives a little insight to the meaning of those lyrics, according to Collections and Exhibits Curator Courtney Titus.
"The exhibit takes the visitor on a journey through time and space to explore the history of housing in the United States," Titus said while taking The Park Record on a tour. "It also looks at the many ways we define what a home is."
"House and Home" was organized by the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and found its way to Park City through the Mid-America Arts Alliance, thanks to the NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) on the Road and support from Home Depot, according to Titus.
"This is one of our bigger exhibits," she said. "It took three days to install, so there is a lot of content."
The core of "House and Home" explores the concept of the ideal American house.
"It looks at what makes a house a home, and the differences between a house and a home," Titus explained.
The exhibit also examines issues such as housing inequality, rent distribution and discusses the definition of the American Dream.
"It looks at how, at one time, that dream meant prosperity and upward mobility, until it changed to homeownership and buying a house," Titus said.
The first displays detail the history of construction methods.
"One method is balloon framing, which was one of the two main methods used in the construction of early Park City homes," Titus explained.
Balloon framing is a style of wood-house building that uses long, vertical 2-by-4 studs that extend from the sill on top of the foundation to the roof, she said.
Another construction method that was used was called single-wall construction that consists of two-inch thick walls and no real supporting frame or foundation, according to Titus.
"That method isn’t discussed in the exhibit, but that was typical for early settlers here who were looking to construct cheap and fast housing," she said. "They didn’t have a lot of money and didn’t know how long they would stay in town. So, they had to build houses quickly, so they could get to the mines and, hopefully, make money."
The construction method displays include platform framing, which is used today, and adobe framing.
"In addition, the exhibit talks about green framing methods, which are cutting edge and promote environmentally safe sustainability," Titus said.
Green framing is part of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification program that rates the design, construction, operation and maintenance of homes, businesses, neighborhoods and districts.
"Materials include bamboo flooring, solar panels, energy-efficient windows and recycled materials," she said.
Still, framing methods are just a small part of the exhibit.
"We have a display about immigration and migration patterns over the course of history," Titus said. "This is another thing that is relatable to Park City because this town saw waves of immigrants from the British Isles, Scandinavia, China and other countries for work. These immigrants also brought their own customs, traditions and religions, as well as cherished items to put into their homes."
With the influx of immigrants, Congress made laws that have influenced housing, for better or worse, Titus said.
"There is a section of the exhibit that looks at discrimination, housing projects and redlining, which was the practice of denying services or raising home prices to potential buyers based on racial and ethnic compositions of certain areas," she said. "It also touches on the landmark 1968 Jones v. Meyer decision that said Congress could regulate the sale of private property to prevent racial discrimination."
While Park City had a large number of immigrants settle during the mining days, many people who came to the area were migrants from the East Coast.
"Even today, people are coming from other areas of the country to make Park City their home," Titus said.
In display cases that illustrate the change of luxuries that make a house a home, visitors can see tea sets, small appliances and items of entertainment such as a vintage TV, a vinyl album, a WiFi transmitter and a recently discontinued iPod.
"These are items that we in America use to feel at home," Titus said. "These aren’t shown chronologically, but rather theme-based."
For example, there is a case that showcases the evolution of the toaster, beginning with a handled, wrought-iron fireplace grid, an early manual-flip toaster to a more modern-day pop up.
"We also have a candlestick telephone and a cordless phone," Titus said. "The telephone changed how a house is used. Prior to phones, people had calling cards and would meet and visit in each others’ parlors.
"When the phone came along, people were able to visit without leaving their homes," she said. "People even started putting a phone in different rooms and telephone desks were invented."
There is an interactive element in one of the exhibit’s corners, Titus pointed out.
"People can answer questions about what makes a house a home and post their answers on a board," she said.
"House and Home" opened a few weeks ago, just in time for the Park City Museum’s Historic Home Tour that will be on Saturday, June 25, Titus said.
"Other programming will include a craft day scheduled on July 26, and we hope to offer a workshop on how to research an historic home later in the month," she said. "There are more things in the works, so we would ask people to check our website for any updates."
The Park City Museum, 528 Main St., will show "House and Home" through Aug. 11. Museum hours are 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens, students and the military and $5 for youths ages 7 to 17. Children ages 6 and younger are admitted for free. For more information and program schedules, visit http://www.parkcityhistory.org.
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