Aside from generally appreciating the historic architecture of Liberia, I've never conducted my own investigation into the areas which A Land and Life Remembered covers. I've never explored the St. Paul river area; I've never been to Arthington, White Plans, Clay-Ashland, or the other hamlets along the riverbanks from the ocean to Mount Coffee.
I have been to Grand Bassa County, but I hadn't realized that I had been though the towns of Fortsville and Hartford, mentioned in the book, until later. I realized that I must have driven through them on the way to Buchanan last year when I looked at the map. Apart from what is in the architectural tour, I did take some photographs of some old-style houses in Robertsport, Buchanan and what I think is Hartford on my trips around Liberia in 2009. I'm no photographer, even when it comes to architecture, and I tend to like to oversaturate my photos in Liberia to give a sense of the atmospheric intensity:
I always admired the antiquity and unique style of these houses, which look remarkable even in their teetering, unkempt state. Of course, its usually really difficult to ascertain just when they were built, and by who. Its also interesting that really no one seems to be building in this fashion now: almost all houses built in Liberia today are ranch-style, and out of concrete, which makes the structures that much more noticeable and remarkable to come across.
What I also find really intriguing, but is not discussed in the book or elsewhere, is the somewhat curious choice of zinc panels for the structures. In some ways, such as resisting rot and security, it might be desirable, but I just imagine that rolled metal would be a difficult building material to come by, especially, say, more than 50 years ago. Maybe these were originally wood-sided constructions (maybe the underlying structures are still wood), but at any point that metal sheeting was incorporated involved importing the material.
My inclination would be to undertake an exhaustive, multi-county survey to see what still stands, especially those properties featured in Max Belcher's photography. Given the hydra-headed scourge of war, looting, poverty, neglect, abandonment, tropical deterioration, and the complete lack of any sort of historical preservation movement, much less regulated restrictions, it is all the more incredible to come across a "Way Back" House, as my Liberian friends exclaim when we come across them.
I also wonder, given that Belcher's survey did not seem to cover anything north of Tubmanburg or south of Grand Bassa County, that no truly country-wide index of historic architecture has ever been covered. I've read Mississippi In Africa but I don't think I've ever seen a picture of Greenville, in any era. This also reminds me of Glenna's haunting photography from her many trips to Harper, which are not to be missed.