Reagan Ruedig, originally from Tennessee, now living in Portsmouth with her family, is a Historic Preservationist for Preservation Company.
Ruedig lived in New York, Philadelphia and Boston for some time before arriving in Portsmouth. After spending a “Perfect Portsmouth weekend” at one of Strawbery Banks’ Bed and Breakfast buildings, she and her husband fell in love with the city and it’s art and culture.
“Public art translates in a different way for what we see as adding to our community and is a really vital and important piece that really defines and represents who we are as a community. I say we do as much of it as possible.”
Portsmouth has come a long way in the past 100 years, and it’s clear to see through it’s architectural history. Most people know the city as a colonial place, but actually it’s more than that, it’s also has Victorian and federal architectural history. The reason that Portsmouth is preserved so well, Regan has discovered, is because of its decline so many years ago. Nobody had the money to invest or change its shape. Store owners and families just made due with what was already there. These are the same buildings we cherish today.
The work that Ruedig does through Preservation Company is help protect the history of Portsmouth’s architectural history as the city rapidly grows. A lot of people think that preservation means putting something in a bubble and not letting anything touch it. However, Ruedig says this perception isn’t true. “Preservation is making sure you save and retain important pieces, the fabric and feel, but not stifle it,” she says, “if you stop it, that will be the end, it has to grow in the modern age.” Ruedig says this is her greatest challenge as a Preservationist for Portsmouth because everyone wants to mimic what’s already here, or to buy old and gut so essentially it’s a new building with new bones.
Ruedig believes that “If we all embrace a more positive attitude in how to handle these challenges and have good planning, then we can still have a wonderful city and enjoy it.”
Reagan Ruedig, Historic Preservationist, walks along the streets of Portsmouth during the peak of summer in the historical city.
A new architectural icon
Originally built in 1923, the Memorial Bridge has become an iconic part of our city. It was rebuilt and reopened in 2013. The original was designed by J.A.L. Waddell and the new one echoes the look and configuration of the original, but represents a sleek, modern form that focuses on the realities of bridge design in the 21st century.