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Preservation Round-Up: Small Packages Edition

Posted on: November 29th, 2010 by Alex Baca

 

Atlantic City in miniature (via Flickr user Robert Bruce Murray III).

Good afternoon, Nation! Here’s your Monday Preservation Round-Up, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s twice-weekly digest of preservation news and tidbits from around the country.

Did y'all have a good Thanksgiving? If you'd like a belated look at things worth appreciating, Old House Web's list of things old house owners can be thankful for is a good one. They thank themselves and the Internet, among other things.

More importantly, did y'all have a great, fantastic, totally awesome Small Business Saturday? We posted a whole lot last week about the day, designed to support local businesses that often get trampled by the big boxes during the holidays. It looks like many of the blogs we follow also got in on the fun. Confessions of a Preservationist planned to head to western New York to pick up some Christmas gifts, and this blogger spent the day in Frederick, Maryland and thoroughly enjoyed herself.

Now that we've gotten you all interested in supporting your local main street business, you might ask yourself, "What the heck is the United States supposed to do with all those empty shopping mall shells?" Retail Traffic, in "Design Without Borders: Innovative international mall designs set examples for U.S. architects and builders," talks about some cues we could take from abroad.

Meatpacking plants certainly don't sound pretty. But, Historian For Hire makes a compelling case as to why Pittsburgh shouldn't have demolished the Millvale Industrial Park, a former brewery and later, a slaughterhouse: "I moved away from Pittsburgh in 1999. Back then, there were few physical reminders in the landscape of the once fragrant and vibrant livestock and leather industry that made its home along the north side of the Allegheny River. Since then, the Pittsburgh Wool Company building was demolished and the former tannery sites along the Allegheny River north of the sprawling Heinz plant were destroyed to make way for a city-subsidized Heinz expansion that made national news back in 1999 and 2000. And, a few former tannery and slaughterhouse buildings survive in the Spring Garden valley. Now with the demolition of the Millvale Industrial Park buildings, Pittsburgh has lost yet another link to its rich and largely unwritten industrial past." Read more here.

On New Geography, Joel Kotkin (this blogger liked his book, The City, quite a bit) says that smaller cities are the future: "In fact, the era of bigger-is-better is passing as smaller, more nimble urban regions are emerging. These efficient cities, as I call them, provide the amenities of megacities—airports, mass communication, reservoirs of talent—without their grinding congestion, severe social conflicts and other diseconomies of scale." According to Kotkin, "smaller, more nimble urban regions" like Fargo, Raleigh-Durham, and Houston are the future.

Stephen Smith at Market Urbanism argues that preservation should be a tool for development, rather than a hindrance: "So while historical preservation may have its place, it is very shortsighted to use it against developers who want to retain the facade and vast majority of the original structure of a pre-war building...Additions add value to buildings, and this market value is the best way to ensure preservation in a profit-driven society. In its dogmatic opposition to even non-destructive redevelopment, this form of total preservationism is sowing the seeds of its own destruction." Read more here.

Time Tells muses on diversity in public spaces. The Tenement Museum Blog offers some gift suggestions. We (the National Trust for Historic Preservation) really, really want you to save the windows. The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota is now taking submissions for its 10 most endangered places list. The Architect's Newspaper discovers sustainability doesn't always have to come with a disclaimer about the end of the world.

With that, enjoy your Monday! Got any tips, news, or otherwise preservation-related fluff? We’d love to include it in the next round. Send us your links on Twitter and Facebook, and maybe you’ll see it here next week!

Alex Baca, a senior at the University of Maryland, is an intern in the Online Communications department at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and also at the Washington City Paper.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Preservation Round-Up: Greener Bricks Edition

Posted on: November 22nd, 2010 by Alex Baca

 

It'll be greener than it looks.

Good afternoon, Nation! Here’s your Monday Preservation Round-Up, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s twice-weekly digest of preservation news and tidbits from around the country.

The National Trust's Historic Sites Blog explores just how Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House might be turned green (the sustainable color, that is). The U.S. Green Building Council's Greenbuild conference set the stage for a conversation regarding the Robie House's ongoing restoration: "Robie House is owned by the University of Chicago but held in a long term lease by the National Trust and run for us by our partner, the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust. Robie House is in the middle of a 10+ year restoration, with approximately 60% of the work completed. And it’s a terrific example of how many original design features in a historic building were inherently green. The restoration uses sound green building practices and products throughout while reactivating many of the original historic features." Read the rest of the post here.

Old House Web talks about why living in a historic district is simply not for everyone: "Because the organizations that help manage historical districts are working to preserve history, there are rules. If you’ve ever worked on a historical restoration or preservation, you know that details and materials matter–down to the paint color and types of nails used. If you don’t have that burning desire for historical accuracy and preservation, you might not want to live in a historic district." Read on to learn about the curmudgeonly behavior of those that find themselves in a place with preservation's parameters.

Public transit or...a tree? There's not an easy answer when the tree in question "predates the U.S. Constitution by more than 800 years" and "is widely believed to have been a campsite for explorer Gaspar de Portola when he discovered San Francisco Bay in 1769." Peninsula Press reports that there is strife between the California High Speed Rail Authority and local tree-huggers (who include Stanford University and the City of Palo Alto); the Rail Authority wants to widen the tracks, which would put the tree in jeopardy: "Trains have impacted the tree’s health for the past century and a half. Until the advent of diesel in the middle of the 20th-century, trains powered by the combustion of wood and coal would storm past the tree, leaving layers of soot that would effectively suffocate it in layers of carbon. Dockter noted, 'The first carbon footprint impact was to the El Palo Alto redwood from smoke, actually.' El Palo Alto is a symbol of survival. As Hartley put it, 'I think what this story shows is just how resilient these trees can be if we don’t cut them down. That tree has had just about everything thrown at it with the exception of a saw; its top has died back, and its lost limbs and its lost a trunk, but the tree is still there.'”

Good has fun with maps--specifically, a map based not on state lines but rather, watersheds (by John Wesley Powell, circa the 1880s). Historian for Hire goes really, really long in a fantastic piece--part one in a series--about DC, gas lighting, and magic lamps. The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota Blog gives some love to Riverside Plaza, oft-mocked for its modern edifices. Time Tells visits "forgotten Chicago."

With that, enjoy your Thursday! Got any tips, news, or otherwise preservation-related fluff? We’d love to include it in the next round. Send us your links on Twitter and Facebook, and maybe you’ll see it here next week!

Alex Baca, a senior at the University of Maryland, is an intern in the Online Communications department at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and also at the Washington City Paper.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Preservation Round-Up: Jewels for Wilmington Edition

Posted on: November 18th, 2010 by Alex Baca

 

Wilmington from afar (via Flickr User the bridge).

Good morning, Nation! Here’s your Thursday Preservation Round-Up, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s twice-weekly digest of preservation news and tidbits from around the country.

The Utah Heritage Foundation reports that there's trouble afoot in Provo's historic district:

"Unfortunately, one of the things the trucks are hauling is demolition debris from several older and historic buildings in Provo’s downtown historic district. Yes, it was certainly time for some of these to probably go as they had been underutilized, unsupported by economic development programs for years, and thus neglected. But there was still some charm and character in their scale and features and thus their contribution provided some good nature to being there. Even in the last round of discussions with the Landmarks Commission, there was acknowledgment that in the future the city cannot allow contributing buildings to be altered, thus making them non-contributing buildings while they are listed in the local historic district or they will be de-listed and demolished just like these buildings."

The concern is that, if companies are allowed to expand into newly-constructed properties that don't reflect Provo's character, the historic environment will be eroded. Hopefully, Utah Heritage Foundation will keep us posted.

Delaware Online reports that a jeweler in Wilmington, Delaware is shuttering his store for economic reasons, but isn't leaving the effort to revitalize the city's downtown. "Even as his business departs downtown, Will Minster will spend his days working for downtown's future. He will be director of economic restructuring for the Wilmington Downtown Business Improvement District, also known as Downtown Visions. In that role, he will work on finding ways for downtown businesses to market themselves together, work to recruit new businesses and retain the ones that are currently downtown. 'I'm a bench jeweler. What do bench jewelers do? They fix things, they design, create things from scratch,' Minster said. 'It's taking that mind-set, taking something broken, and fixing it.'" With Minster on board, Wilmington should be sparkling in the long-term.

Going to Colorado? Need a place to stay? The Colorado Springs Gazette has listed several options for all your traveling needs. Included is the Cottage Court, the oldest remaining original motel in the country: "The state’s oldest remaining log hotel is open to the public for just three days in November and December — you can also check out the oldest motel in the US while you’re there — thanks to the Grand Lake Area Historical Society. Grand Lake’s proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park, which opened in 1915, means tourism has been its bread and butter for almost a hundred years. Because the railroad never came to the western side of the park, auto travel has driven growth in the area for as long as cars have been around...The Cottage Court, a few blocks away, is recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Colorado Historical Society as the oldest remaining original motel in the U.S. Both are owned by the Grand Lake Area Historical Society (GLAHS), which has taken on the major project of restoring them for public display and education."

If you're making a trip to James Madison's Montpelier, you can take home a piece of...wallpaper (no, it's cooler than it sounds). Read Old House Web's extensive post on America's oldest net zero solar house, which proves that all that new-fangled sustainability stuff fits in just fine with historic district characteristics. The Columbus Dispatch notes that old barns, which could be salvaged or renovated, are disappearing (but points to our Barn Again! program as a good thing).

With that, enjoy your Thursday! Got any tips, news, or otherwise preservation-related fluff? We’d love to include it in the next round. Send us your links on Twitter and Facebook, and maybe you’ll see it here next week!

Alex Baca, a senior at the University of Maryland, is an intern in the Online Communications department at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and also at the Washington City Paper.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Preservation Round-Up: It's Brutal Edition

Posted on: November 15th, 2010 by Alex Baca 1 Comment

 

It was in vogue, once... (image via Flickr User voteprime).

Good afternoon, Nation! Here’s your Monday Preservation Round-Up, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s twice-weekly digest of preservation news and tidbits from around the country. 

What happens to buildings that are largely acknowledged as important, but also largely acknowledged as...ugly? Baltimore's Morris Mechanic Theatre, a true relic of Brutalist architecture, has found itself in that particular gray area. Urbanite Baltimore reports that while the structure of the theatre itself did not manage to gain historic designation, the mixed-use development project intended for the site has been stalled by the economy. The problems do really come down to aesthetics: "But beauty is eye of the beholder, and aesthetics fall in and out [of] fashion, as Johns Hopkins, head of the local preservation group Baltimore Heritage reminds us. 'In the 1940s and ’50s, Victorian buildings like the Engineers Club, the Winans Mansion, and the Marburg Mansion were all considered drop-dead ugly and not worthy of preservation, and those are among our most prized architectural possessions today,' Hopkins says...In the end, this mess over the Mechanic represents a growing wave of historic preservation conflicts taking shape across the country. Modernist buildings from the middle of last century are increasingly falling out of fashion and facing the wrecking ball." 

Historian for Hire has a phenomenally in-depth post that looks at William Degges. William who? Well, he built President Lincoln's Cottage (a National Trust for Historic Site, funny enough): "Projects to construct buildings to house the United States Treasury Department and Patent Office, as well as a new General Post Office and dwellings in which a growing federal workforce could live drew artisans and laborers from around the world to the capital city and provided mostly steady work for increasing numbers of native Washingtonians already in the building trades. The carpenters, bricklayers, and stonemasons who worked under contract to the Commissioner of Public Buildings were skilled mechanics and entrepreneurs whose client base included merchants, bankers, politicians, manufacturers, and military officers. The summer of 1842 began as the nation was entering a third year in economic depression. Two of the builders working in the District of Columbia that summer were Washington carpenter William H. Degges and Philadelphia architect John Skirving." Click through for some fantastic maps, diagrams, and the history of the Degges family (there's even footnotes). 

A guest post on Preservation Journey covers the far-flung (well, it's in Belgium, anyway) Château Miranda: "The Château Miranda, later called Chateau Noisy and located near Celles, Belgium, was built in phases circa 1866-1907. Most of the historical accounts I’ve read online seem to copy each other, but sources say the architects were an Englishman named Milner, followed by Pelchner, who was French. The château was built for Count Liedekerke-Beaufort, whose family also still owns the nearby Castle of Veves. The château was used as a private residence for many years, then occupied briefly by the Germans during World War II, and later converted into a home for children. Exactly how long the property has been neglected seems uncertain, but indications are that it has been out of use since 1991." More on the abandoned castle here (a note: Preservation Journey is open to submissions of more stories like this one. Head on over to their blog if there's something you'd like to share). 

Preservation Portland reports that the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals has reenforced the historic design review process (no more vinyl window free-for-alls!) in Northwest Portland. Preservation in Pink finds a sweet Historic American Engineering Record poster—about trusses (no, really, I'd like one for myself). The Tenement Museum Blog posts about Snapshot! at the Tenement Museum, a fun-looking night were patrons were allowed free liberty to take photos of themselves wherever they so desired. The Columbus, Mississippi Dispatch lets locals know that the Main Street program is successful

With that, enjoy your Monday! Got any tips, news, or otherwise preservation-related fluff? We’d love to include it in the next round. Send us your links on Twitter and Facebook, and maybe you’ll see it here next week! 

Alex Baca, a senior at the University of Maryland, is an intern in the Online Communications department at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and also at the Washington City Paper.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Preservation Round-Up: Veterans on Main Street Edition

Posted on: November 11th, 2010 by Alex Baca

 

Honoring family and veterans in Jonesboro, Arkansas (image by Flickr user Mountainbread).

Good afternoon, Nation! Here’s your Thursday Preservation Round-Up, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s twice-weekly digest of preservation news and tidbits from around the country.

Do you have money burning a hole in your pocket now that the holidays are approaching? If you don't, do you at least want to do something way cooler than Black Friday? Small Business Saturday is the perfect thing for you. We posted about it yesterday -- it's "your chance to get your shop on while simultaneously supporting the local merchants who are the heartbeat of your Main Street" -- and several other outlets have recently covered the importance of Main Street to local communities.

In Boston, Mattapan Square has recently been graced with a Main Street designation, which brings to the area "the advice of local architects hired by the city, and a corporate buddy program in which large businesses invest in the area." In upstate New York, the Mt. Morris Main Street is on an upswing, thanks to the dedicated efforts of one Greg O'Connell. Citiwire reports that O'Connell jumpstarted Mt. Morris' transition to a viable, accessible "downtown":

"O’Connell bought and restored 19 buildings, lured new businesses, created 28 second-floor apartments, involved both the local high school and college and the larger community. Sales tax and real estate values have increased, banks have tentatively started making loans and residents, with new found hope, are investing in their properties in small ways. Main Street is reborn."

The Huffington Post profiles the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, whose fantastic, oft-updated blog is well-loved around these parts. An art installation in Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, "Projecting Modern," is bringing new life to the Chicago landmark. The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota Blog digs into the valuable relationship between preservation and affordable housing.

A reminder, too, as we celebrate Veterans Day, to give a nod of thanks to those who have served for our country. We've got a list of national cemeteries throughout the country that will be honoring the holiday. The Oregonian has a short guest column discussing the difference between Veterans and Memorial Days, and PublicCEO gives a historical overview. For more information on the history and traditions surrounding Veterans Day, check out the Department of Veterans Affairs.

With that, enjoy your Thursday! Got any tips, news, or otherwise preservation-related fluff? We’d love to include it in the next round. Send us your links on Twitter and Facebook, and maybe you’ll see it here next week!

Alex Baca, a senior at the University of Maryland, is an intern in the Online Communications department at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and also at the Washington City Paper.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.