St. Malo, France

I had the pleasure of visiting this quaint little town in the Brittany region of France this past April. The beaches were cool and breezy, the sand white and chilly, and the sky warm with sun beams. The town itself is surrounded by centuries old walls that once protected it from harm.






IMG_4267I enjoyed the beach the most. The water was calm and the tide was low that day.


Fortresses are still seen out in the distance close to shore, deteriorating as time passes.

The history of St. Malo is not as beautiful as the beaches I stepped foot on. It is unfortunately located close to Omaha Beach in Normandy. During the attacks in Northern France during WWII, St. Malo fell victim to numerous bombings — leaving it the 6th most destroyed cities in France between 1940 and 1945.


I will never forget my visit to St. Malo, which is officially my favorite place in the world, replacing Berlin — which is an excellent city. I believe St. Malo should be on everyone’s bucket list.

All photos taken by Madeline Feierstein in April 2014.

From Closed Shutters to Our Nation’s Security


“On January 8, 2009, the National Capital Planning Comission (NCPC) approved the Final Master Plan for the DHS Headquarters Consolidation.”


St. Elizabeth’s Hospital was a former government hospital for the insane eastablished in 1855. It was the first government-run center of its kind in America.


It is now being transformed into the new location for the Department of Homeland Security. Its strange location in SE Washington made me a little curious. But when I saw this view, I knew it was a prime spot:


The DC Preservation League offers tours on a regular basis. Visit their website to learn more:


John Rutledge House Inn



Located on 116 Broad Street in the historic district of Charleston, SC stands the John Rutledge House Inn.



It was built in 1763 for John Rutledge, a South Carolina governor and a signer of the Constitution.





George Washington was supposed to stay at the inn but decided not to impose and stayed elsewhere in Charleston. He did, though, have tea in the ballroom — where I also enjoyed afternoon snacks and beverages.



It was declared a historic landmark in 1979.


Update on Madeline!


Bonjour! It’s been a wonderful first half to 2014 with many adventures and places seen. Speak Up For Buildings has been up and running for 1 1/2 years, and we’re not going anywhere!

Many of you see various photos of my adventures as well as rants on how I feel on certain subjects (thank you for not posting “hater” comments, I’m confident every follower is better than that).

The time has come to give you an update on my whereabouts in life. A lot has changed, including my future. I had jumped from wanting to make historic preservation my living to expanding it to environmental studies. Now, I plan on pursuing a teaching certificate to become a French teacher. Different from a year ago, huh?



I’m also starting an official candle and soap making business called The Enchanted Dragons. I love making home, hair, skin, and body care in my spare time when I’m not crawling around asylums and taking photos of weird looking buildings. The process of getting started is tough but I’m loving every minute of it!

You can find my shop on Etsy here:

And on Facebook:

Thank you all so much for following my blog. It has truly been a honor :)

Architecture as an Art Form


What the hell is it?

I sure don’t know. But, what I do know is that art comes in many forms. Photos can describe scenes past in a moment. Paintings can illustrate emotions and elements of a situation. Buildings, now buildings can symbolize events that left a mark. More often than not, buildings exemplify historic events that cover the area surrounding them. Imagine London, England during WWII. Bombs were dropped from planes onto the city and buildings were left in ruins. One of the those buildings was saved and was converted into a museum or memorial for that tragic bombing.

Architecture can shape a society and make you appreciate its style, form, texture, and flair. We take it for granted, but when we walk into a pristine building, our moods shift to a most trusting and comfortable mindset. Old, decrepit buildings makes us feel shifty and even unsafe at times.

Art is beauty. Beauty is art. Architecture is art. Architecture is beauty.

Health Impacts of Abandoned Buildings

I’ve wandered into what looked like lung cancer-covered walls. The sketchy white and black substance growing in between the cracks of the abandoned and desolate bathrooms of the forgotten insane asylums still linger there — even 40 years after their discovery. It amazes me to think that people could just leave buildings there, expect someone to do something about them, have no one come to their rescue, and then complain that they are a health hazard.

Let’s rewind.

If that person had not just said “Ok, let’s leave this decrepit building in someone else’s hands, but I don’t want any part of deciding who that will be.” then we wouldn’t have this problem. Buildings are not just animals you can leave by a shelter and wait for someone to bring them inside. Buildings are all alone in the world. No one’s going to come one day, see this asylum or mansion on top of the hill, and say, “Well, gee, I better go make sure there’s no mold or asbestos festering in those walls.” While, yes, it goes against my moral standpoint of saving buildings, it is important to remember why, in fact, people knock down buildings in the first place.

Most, if not all, the time, environmental experts and toxicologists will evaluate a building based on its impacts on society and the habitat surrounding it, and will come to a conclusion that it is not savable.

There’s an element here that is contradictory.

I, too, would like to stop teens and the homeless from visiting and housing themselves in these horrid conditions. However, if we bring attention to the health hazards, more often than not, the building will be immediately torn down.

It’s just not fair. We need to save the buildings, not erase them. But, the preservation world experiences ongoing battles. The most we, as citizens, can do is write letters or sign petitions. Go to events that would benefit a historical society, then talk to those who you have given money to and ask for their support.

I have gotten emails responding to my requests, all of them said that they would love to help but the issue is just too big for them to help take care of. We need to make the issue not seem like it’s unsolvable.

This generation seeks to find an easier way to go about things — why not do it with buildings?

Contemplating History and It’s Future in Schools

We all have been through the never-ending cycle of history classes from the moment we entered middle school. Our teachers tell us first about the classical era, like the Greek and Roman empires. Simple, right? Then we approach more difficult and less understandable concepts like the Dark Ages and Crusades. In our minds, we could not fathom how and why people would go to such lengths for their cause, when, in this day and age, we really just Tweet or post our petitions and ideas in hopes someone, somewhere will see our potential.

History never ends. Everyday history is made, in small and large forms. My head has been spinning about the idea that history in schools will be cut short, because of the constant history-making that we humans do. Imagine, we spend 3 years learning about the BCE and the remainder of high school in the CE. I have never heard of any current events classes where all you cover are current wars, disputes, inventions, and fascinating people.

A good example of something that I believe will alter the course of how our children and grandchildren will be taught history is the crisis in Ukraine. Because of the magnitude of this event, it might need a whole semester or quarter of our successors schooling just to cover it. No more will they spend time on what happened 3,000 years ago because the new current events will overtake the history system. There won’t be enough time to cover all the history we learned, plus the emerging stories that occur everyday.

It’s not a negative future, per se. I feel as though the classical and medieval eras could be taught through art history class, or even in a comparative religions or mythology elective. What is important, really? Will we not be better people if we don’t learn about the dispute between Athens and Sparta?

Watch for the shift that may occur in the way people are taught history. You may find that most of the arts and crafts projects you did like reconstructing the Parthenon will be obsolete in 50 years.