HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Ever since Joan Lindley of Oklahoma City lost her husband in 2016, she has lived in the couple's 1920s-era home by herself. The building needed maintenance and repair, so when Lindley saw that a historic preservation class was being offered in Oklahoma City a couple years ago, she signed up.
"I figured I could learn what needs to be done around the house and understand the language of what a contractor is saying," she said.
Bob Yapp, a Hannibal resident and founder of the Belvedere School for Hands On Preservation at 521 Bird St., was the class instructor. Since then, Lindley has been a frequent student of Yapp and has taken several of his preservation classes, including those held in Hannibal.
She's not alone in doing so.
No more are Yapp's classes comprised of mostly men. Today, he estimates half or more of his students are women. The trend has led to Yapp starting women-only preservation classes at his Hannibal school.
"Too often, fathers spend more time teaching their sons how to think in a ?so-called ‘handy' way," Yapp said. "This is unfortunate. When women are given the opportunity to learn this way of thinking, their skills almost always exceed men's. I've found out women are better at this because they pay attention to the little details."
Three women from across the Midwest, including Lindley, spent this Saturday and Sunday in Hannibal attending Yapp's "Old House Maintenance for Women" class, which utilizes an 1830s- or '40s-era house in the rear of the Bird Street school as the students' laboratory. The women learned over the two-day period tool identification and usage; construction terminology; plumbing repairs; window repair; rotted wood repair; repointing brick and stone; wood floor repair and restoration; and how to find a contractor.
"I'm learning a lot," said first-time student Lilly Blase of Lincoln, Neb. "I own an 1880s Queen Anne-style cottage, and I can take the information I've learned here and apply it to my home."
Mary Sayers, who has taken about five classes with Yapp, applies the information she learns in a different way. She serves as the historic preservation outreach and education coordinator at the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office in Kansas City and uses the information gained to be better equipped at her job.
"You can't learn from just sitting in a room and hearing somebody tell you theories and concepts," Sayers said. "The hands-on classes are the ones where you learn the most and best learn about those concepts. This (class) helps me better educate the people I work with and helps me know what to ask contractors."
At the minimum, Yapp said, the classes help women to know how work should be properly done if a contractor is hired. And "they're unique, fun, learn-by-doing opportunities designed to give you the skills needed to properly perform the basic maintenance tasks any old or historic house needs," he said.
Yapp has been involved in the restoration or rehabilitation of more than 160 historic properties and has taught construction skills at the high school, community college and university levels for more than 25 years. He recently finished working on the windows at George Washington's Mount Vernon home in Virginia.
Beginners to moderately skilled women are encouraged to enroll in his preservation classes. The class cap is at 12 students. For more information, call Yapp at 217-474-6052, or email him at email@example.com.