Friday, October 19, 2012

The Social Network and Harvard's Special Old Building

I caught a few minutes of The Social Network last night.  The film about Facebook has nothing to do with renovating old houses or anything closely related to construction, but something grabbed my attention enough that I'm still thinking about it this morning.

There's a scene in the movie where the Winklevoss Twins (played solely by actor Armie Hammer) are waiting to meet with Larry Summers, the President of Harvard.  The receptionist says, "This building is a hundred years older than the country it's in. So do be careful."  Her warning is not connected with Cameron and Tyler's meeting about Facebook or their dispute with Mark Zuckerberg, but it's part of the attitude that the people of Harvard had throughout the film.  However, it's more than attitude, it's an underlying impression that the folks that make up the Harvard community know more than those outside their circle.  In this example, the people that preceded them were wise to build Massachusetts Hall to last and mindful to leave it as it's stood for all these years.  (To be accurate, Mass. Hall of Harvard Yard is not "335 years old."  A little fact checking confirms that it's been standing since 1720, making it's age closer to 292.)

The receptionist represented in the film presumably had nothing to do with any of the decisions to save that old building, but she seemed to hold some pride about working there none-the-less (and I would too.)  To people like me, a building that's almost 300 years old is pretty cool and something to boast about.  The people of Harvard sure aren't concerned about what's cool, but they know having that old building in the middle of campus is something worthy of attention.  It is cool and I think that's why that little line was popped into the movie like it was. 

Going to the trouble of saving an old building or a run-down house is not the easiest path, but there's wisdom in this course.  In the end, having something that's been around for multiple decades (or centuries) is special, unique, and oftentimes better than an equivalent structure that's brand new.  I believe that it's worth the effort to save a decrepit building and the snooty administrative assistant of The Social Network helps make this point for me as she proudly delivers her only line of the film.

If you can save an old home, I'm here to encourage you.  It won't be simple, but if you push forward and do it right, it'll be worth your effort and diligence.  In the end, you'll be proud of yourself and what you have when your finished.   

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to buy some old wreck of a house and renovate it just because I read your blog now. lol
    Well, after I finish this other project.