Beanery Online Literary Magazine

January 14, 2011

How to Write About (Historic) Buildings



      The Beanery Writers Group (Southwestern Pennsylvania) members have an opportunity to visit and write about a Frank Lloyd Wright structure, in any genre the writer chooses. Once the idea was seeded, I realized that doing this would present a challenge to many of the group members, including myself. 

     We are preparing for this project by visiting and writing about local structures: two unusual restaurants, a historic building built in 1799 which is now a museum, a Catholic church Basilica, the county courthouse, etc. Because these excursions have proven how difficult it is to write about historic structures, I searched the ‘net for guidance. I discovered that there’s a scarcity of instructional material to glean from.


     Buildings, like people, have stories to tell about their community’s and the nation’s past. Embedded in historic structures and landscapes are traces of past lives that are clues to how our ancestors lived, and how life today evolved. To write about them is to bring these traces to life.

     Historic structures, with a wealth of history, legend, and folklore on their doorstep, provide fertile material for factual and fictional writing. The writer’s imagination, inspired by the iconic locations, can run wild, using descriptive style and creating imaginative stories based on both fact and fiction.

     There are different approaches to writing about historic (or current day) structures.  

  • Describe in detail a general overall view of the structure, a room, or an item(s) on display. Use all (more…)