Historic Preservationist

Sixty-five percent of the hewn-log houses that Warren found surviving in southern Indiana consisted of a single room with a sleeping loft overhead. In the early years of pioneer settlement, he was convinced, the proportion of one-room to multi-room houses would have been much higher. In the late-1970s, when the first survey of Monroe County’s historic sites and structures was conducted by his students Tom Carter and Gary Stanton for the state historic preservation office, Warren’s insistence on a comprehensive inventory that included common buildings of the great majority of residents challenged the conventional historic preservation approach that focused on buildings of the social elite.

"It is important to note that in earlier times, especially when as much as 95 percent of the population consisted of self-sufficient farm families, most houses in Great Britain and the United States were of one room. It is unfortunate from the standpoint of trying to understand what life was like in earlier times that historic preservation groups and museums have clouded the issue. Historic houses restored and opened to the public by organizations such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation are usually the multi-roomed mansions of wealthy people. Moreover, the houses in 'outdoor' museums such as Colonial Williamsburg and Old Sturbridge Village are mostly multi-room houses. These large houses are aesthetically pleasing and important for the history of the architecture of five percent or so of the population, the upper classes. But one who is trying to learn how most people lived in earlier times will be led astray if he or she thinks that the multi-room houses are in any way typical or characteristic of the houses of most people. In short, these early multi-room houses are long on charm and aesthetics, but they can be used only with great caution for history."

“Preface,” in Log Buildings of Southern Indiana, rev. ed., 1996, xi.