Karen Wells has lived in Orange since 1987. Since moving she has committed a great deal of her energy to documenting and fighting to preserve the historic architectural fabric of the city. She guided members of the Reverse Archaeology team on a tour of Main Street in Orange and taught us how to see the buildings and the street in a new way. What we learned is that there is a great deal of history on view if we look up. On the tour she told stories about a number of impressive buildings including the Brown Building, Main Street School, the Post Office, Rossi Paints, First Presbyterian Church, the Metcalf Building, the Orange Public Library, the former Central Hotel, the Metropolitan Building, City Hall, the former Orange Music Hall, the Hudson City Bank, and the Masonic Hall.
These beautiful buildings give Main Street what Karen calls “good bones,” meaning that the city has a core of historic buildings that, if they are restored, can give city an invaluable cultural resource that would attract visitors and empower the city. Among the many things to see on Main Street, we were impressed by the many small details that are mostly hidden from view until we are given the right eyes to see with. For example, lines of egg and dart molding hidden behind store front signs, and two beehives that overlook the street.