From Protests to Distilleries: Our Top 10 Blog Stories of 2011

Posted on: December 30th, 2011 by David Garber

2011, we hardly knew ye. And yet, as usual, you flooded us with stories from across the country relating to our interactions and efforts surrounding America's historic places. We like this list because it shows us the type of content that really caught your attention: national news, endangered places, interviews, and a mix of geographies, building styles, and even boats.

Yet as we say goodbye to 2011, we are very much looking forward to 2012. We'll be doing more on-the-ground reporting, more interviews with locals from around the country, and adding in a few features this blog hasn't seen before. And remember, if you have stories you think could be great blog fodder, send them our way via our new editorial@nthp.org inbox.

And so, without further ado, our Top 10 Blog Stories of 2011:

1. Demonstrators Treating Historic Wisconsin State Capitol with Care and Respect

"Political differences catalyzing the demonstrations are far from resolved and large crowds continue to gather at the building, but demonstrators have shown reverence for the state house as the gathering place of democracy is Wisconsin, and show no signs of resorting to symbolic attacks on it."

2. Let These Not Be Lost: America’s 2011 Most Endangered Historic Places

"The unveiling of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places is always a bittersweet moment. The list is a culmination of hundreds of hours of hard work by hundreds of people, and it becomes a new rallying cry for supporters of incredibly important – yet unfortunately threatened – sites nationwide. But the fact that the list even exists means that there’s a lot more work to be done."

3. We Have A Winner! The 2011 Dozen Distinctive Destinations Fan Favorite Is…

"What I kept wondering was this—how did Paducah become this vibrant town that would have a chance of being one of a Dozen Distinctive Destinations? I think the answer boils down to this: they knew what they had (good bones of a historic downtown, the human resources to restore it and a feeling of community); they knew what they wanted (economic prosperity, the arts, and something to “sell” that would be an asset to the town, not a detriment); and, the will and knowledge to promote what they built over time."

4. Interview: Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Little Gem” Up for Auction

"Accessibility discussions usually seem to center around ways to retrofit historic properties to better accommodate people of all abilities. Why? Because it’s an issue that still needs to be addressed at historic places all across the country that weren’t originally designed with universal accessibility in mind. ... It’s far less often that we come across old and historic buildings that were accessible from their start."

5. Main Street Round-Up: Walkable Vegetables Edition

"A busy intersection in the Lauraville neighborhood [in Baltimore] has been transformed into a flat billboard of sorts celebrating locally grown foods and the district’s weekly farmers market. By painting large, eye-catching vegetables on the asphalt at the intersection, community leaders hope to calm traffic, beautify a major commuting corridor and stir up local pride and participation in the neighborhood."

6. Confronting the Confederacy in Interpreting a Historic Home 

"In 2005 I purchased a home built in the early 1880’s by Henry Martyn Stringfellow, a former confederate soldier. Being a preservationist I frequently open my home in Hitchcock, Texas to the public. I struggle with whether my interpretation of the site should acknowledge his role in the Confederacy or just avoid telling that part of his story."

7. USS Olympia Remains Afloat, but Repairs are Needed 

"In her nearly 120 years of existence, USS Olympia has shown herself to be a resilient survivor. Today, the world’s oldest steel-hulled warship afloat remains afloat. She rises and falls with the tides of the Delaware River, along whose shores she is moored in Philadelphia, resting at low tide on the riverbed. It is at these times that the damage below her waterline is exposed."

8. Laredo’s Legacy: Preserving the El Cuatro Barrio 

"Hispanics are the fastest growing minority in the United States. For more than 440 years they have contributed to building the culture and society of all the American South, from Florida to California. The Hispanic experience in South Texas specifically is 260 years old, and this legacy of multiple generations of Spanish-descent families has created a rich culture and conserved those sites and towns that reflect their heritage."

9. Catch National Preservation Conference Highlights Online 

"Ah, the joy of the Interwebz — allowing us to connect across the miles and delve deeper into our shared love of preservation at the National Preservation Conference! Though we much prefer to have you see the Nickel City for yourself, we understand if you couldn’t make it in person this year, and we still want you to be involved from your corner of the world."

10. A Spirited Comeback 

"Over the past several years, the visible decline of the Detroit area – from the city itself to the smaller towns that surround it – has caught the nation’s imagination. With image after haunting image of ghostly vacant blocks and countless gloomy editorials, sometimes it seems like the media has already written the region off. However, amidst the rubble of times past, a new breed of locally-minded, dedicated entrepreneurs has decided it’s time to give southeastern Michigan new life."

David Garber is the blog editor at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

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