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The Washington D.C. Office of Planning’s Historic Preservation Office presented winners of the Sixth Annual Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation at the historic Carnegie Institution of Science Auditorium on Thursday, November 6th. The event was co-hosted by the DC Preservation League.

Highlighting the event were the Historic Preservation Review Board Chairman’s Award for Law and Public Policy to D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray and the Individual Lifetime Achievement Award to longtime Dupont Circle resident and preservationist Charles J. Robertson, III. A total of 12 awards were presented to individuals, businesses, and local organizations for exemplary work and commitment to historic preservation.

Excellence in Design – Restoration and Renovation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation received an Excellence in Design Award for Restoration and Renovation for the restoration of the President Lincoln’s Cottage and the renovation of the former Soldier’s Home Administration Building into the President Lincoln’s Cottage Visitor Education Center. The National Trust was honored for its authentic restoration of the Gothic cottage back to the era when President Lincoln and his family summered at the site and the President penned the early drafts of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Special commendation was given to the National Trust for its sensitive rehabilitation of the administration building into the Staff Offices and Visitor Education Center integrating the best of preservation standards with sustainability practices. The Visitor Education Center is on target to receive LEED Gold and is also being considered as a pilot project for LEED 2009’s new Alternate Compliance Path for Life Cycle Assessment of Building Assemblies.  Final LEED certification was submitted last week for the project.  Look for a future story on this project - a great example of the intersection of historic preservation and sustainability.

Also honored for their involvement in the project were:

The Christman Company; RMJM Hillier; Mona Electric Group; Oak Grove Restoration Company; and Strickland Fire Protection.

This has been a good month for the National Trust's Historic Sites.  Last week, Decatur House, also in Washington, DC received a Design Excellence Award for the restoration of the Entry Hall & Stair Hall from the AIA DC.  Interestingly, Decatur House also received a Mayor's Award for Restoration three years ago for the restoration of the Kitchen.

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.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at bcampagna@bcampagna.com.

Prestigious AIA Award for Decatur House Restoration Project

Posted on: November 7th, 2008 by Barbara Campagna 1 Comment

 

The Award

Restoration of entry & stair halls, standing in the entry hall looking into the stair hall. (Photo © Dan Redmond)

Restoration of entry & stair halls, standing in the entry hall looking into the stair hall. (Photo © Dan Redmond)

The AIA/DC awarded the Stephen Decatur House Museum in Washington, DC a Design Excellence Award for Historic Resources on Thursday, October 30 for the Restoration of Benjamin Latrobe's Entry Hall and Stair Hall. This is a beautiful and nuanced restoration project which demonstrates that if you couple a sound preservation methodology with a passionate and collaborative design and construction team, the result can be one which reactivates an entire building, even though its actual physical scope and budget may be small.

Background

Benjamin Henry Latrobe, one of the giants of early American architecture, designed this Federal townhouse for naval commodore Stephen Decatur in 1817. The Decaturs only lived there together for less than two years before Decatur was killed in a duel on March 22, 1820. The National Trust for Historic Preservation acquired the building as a historic site in 1956. In 1960, it was designated a National Historic Landmark and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. Located across Lafayette Park from the White House, Decatur House remains at the center of Washington’s social activities and indeed its carriage house rental space is one of the most sought after special event spaces in the city.

The Restoration Project
(condensed from the AIA Application prepared by Davis Buckley Architects & Planners)

Entry hall before restoration, looking at front door.

Entry hall before restoration, looking at front door.

Over the past century, evolving ownership led to architectural and decorative transformations within the structure. The National Trust undertook the restoration of the entry hall and the main stair hall – two of the building’s most significant intact architectural spaces. These rooms retain features of Benjamin Henry Latrobe’s original design, including: projecting and receding moldings, a vaulted and domed ceiling in the entry hall, cornerblocks decorated with rosettes, and niches in the entry hall and on the staircase. The entry hall is approximately 81 square feet and the main stair hall consists of approximately 162 square feet, on two levels.

The restoration project: conserved the original architectural fabric found in the entry hall and stair hall; removed later features (including telephone and electrical elements, door and window hardware, and a late 19th century wood floor); replicated the original paint colors; and re-established missing original features. The architect researched the documentation in the National Trust’s files, and reviewed a 1990 Historic Structures Report, HABS drawings, paint analysis, and primary resources such as Latrobe’s design drawing “Detail of the Hall of Commodore Decatur” house in a collection at the Library of Congress. The priorities were to restore the character and articulation of Latrobe’s original design while preserving as much of the existing historic fabric as possible. Various technical measures were taken to achieve these priorities.

... Read More →

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.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at bcampagna@bcampagna.com.

Flood Waters Have Receded at World-Famous Farnsworth House

Posted on: September 16th, 2008 by Barbara Campagna 2 Comments

 

After two days, staff and volunteers at Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois can finally reach it without a boat, albeit waders!

View into the Farnsworth House through the front door after the waters receded.

View into the Farnsworth House through the front door after the waters receded.

The flood waters started to recede yesterday morning, and unlike the flood of 1996 when the waters rose over 4’ into the house, it appears it was about 18” above the floor level this time. Our very ingenious low-tech way of raising the furniture on plastic milk crates worked and not one of them was displaced.

With that said, we are trying to evaluate the impact to the building and it will be some time before the full impact to the historic site and landscape can be fully understood. The existing primavera wood wardrobe does have water damage along the bottom which will be evaluated by a conservator, as do the other fixed-in-place wood panels. The famous primavera wood panels in the living room were demounted and safely stored on top of the “core”.

No glass was broken and the travertine floors on the interior seem only mildly dirty. We still don’t know the full impact to the mechanical and electrical systems but are hopeful since most of the equipment is located more than 18” above the floor. Several very large trees were literally uprooted and getting an arborist in to determine the safety of some of the other trees is a priority.

Because there is massive disaster recovery occurring all over the country right now, getting the insurance

The Farnsworth House as the waters recede.

The Farnsworth House as the waters recede.

adjusters to the house may take a week or more. In the mean time, our dedicated Director, Whitney French, and her staff and volunteers will be working with engineers, restoration recovery companies and conservators to make the most informed restoration decisions. As a result, the site is closed for tours for the remainder of 2008. While we understand that people who have planned trips in advance and purchased tickets are very disappointed that their tours have been cancelled, please understand that this is necessary, not only to facilitate the physical recovery of the building and landscape, but to ensure the life safety of our staff and visitors. Any questions, please feel free to email me at Barbara_campagna@nthp.org .

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.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at bcampagna@bcampagna.com.

 

Rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Ike floods the Farnsworth House

Rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Ike floods the Farnsworth House, September 2008.

Unfortunately, Texas is not the only state impacted by Ike and the other tropical storms. Our National Trust Historic Site and National Historic Landmark, Farnsworth House , designed by Mies van der Rohe and opened in 1951 is under water. Tropical Storm Lowell and now Ike are behind the rains that are still pummeling the Midwest.  The flood waters continue to rise. It has been raining with flood waters rising since Friday night. Unlike the story many of you have heard about the flood last August at the house, the rains/floods have not stopped 6” below the entrance and the house now has at least 1 foot of water in it.

Water from the Fox River entering the Farnsworth House

Water from the Fox River entering the Farnsworth House, September 2008.

Our director, Whitney French, and a host of volunteers from Landmarks Illinois , our partner and manager of the site, worked tirelessly last night to secure the house before it got dark. There is really little that can be done beyond lifting all the furniture on plastic milk crates (a system we devised last August when confronted with similar flooding) and turning the electricity off. The house was built in a hundred year flood plain, but if you read my previous posting on disaster planning – climate change has significantly impacted so many of our regions, including Plano Illinois. In the 60 years since the house was built, there have been 60 floods and now 7 hundred-year floods.

Securing the furniture in the Farnsworth House - a photo from last August.

Securing the furniture in the Farnsworth House - a photo from last August.

There is about 1 foot of water INSIDE the house. All the furniture was raised but there is nothing further that can be done, and in fact the house is pretty close to being unreachable, as the entire community is underwater and it is a very dire situation. Three bridges between the town and the house are now out. Whitney is now fearful for her house and is working to protect her house and family. The rain is still coming down and is not showing any signs of letting up. We will get the insurance ball rolling tomorrow morning, but in the mean time we can just hope and pray that the rains stop and that the community and its citizens are safe. And send good wishes and karma to Whitney and her family.

The house and tours are closed for the foreseeable future. Access to the house currently is only by boat, and this is not safe. The ironic thing of course, is that with the house sitting on 5 foot stilts, it is incredibly evocative as this photo at the top of this posting shows - taken last year when the floods did stop before entering the house. We will keep everyone apprised and ask you to give Whitney and the staff of Landmarks Illinois the space and time they will need to recover.

Below is a video on YouTube that one of our intrepid volunteers, Denny Frantzen, took last night, before the floodwaters entered the house.

Updated to include newly-received photos from today's flooding.

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.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at bcampagna@bcampagna.com.

 

Thirty colleagues representing many of our sites met with me in Monterey,CA earlier this week to discuss

Buildings & Grounds Staff visited Cooper-Molera Adobe in downtown Monterey.

Buildings & Grounds Staff visited Cooper-Molera Adobe in downtown Monterey.

Disaster Planning and Sustainable Practices. Every few years we get together during our Buildings & Grounds Conference to share experiences, policies and the ups and downs of managing buildings and grounds at our National Historic Landmark sites. This year our partner, California State Parks , helped arrange our retreat at Asilomar, their Julia Morgan-designed National Historic Landmark conference center by the ocean. With no televisions or phones and WiFi only in the Phoebe Hearst Social Hall, it’s the perfect place to evaluate our place on the planet and the impact we’re having on the climate crisis.

More and More Natural Disasters

The National Trust currently has 29 historic sites across the country which represent the diverse story of

Ice storms descended on Brucemore in Cedar Rapids last December.

Ice storms descended on Brucemore in Cedar Rapids last December.

America. And unfortunately nearly all of them seem to be located in natural disaster-prone regions. Although when I start to look at our sites, it becomes clear that there probably isn’t any area of our country that is totally safe at all times. In just the past year, we have had a hundred year flood at the Farnsworth House that just missed flooding the house; two microbursts at Cliveden and Lyndhurst which caused major tree damage and electrical damage; a tropical storm at Villa Finale in San Antonio (a site which hasn’t even officially opened); monsoon-like storms that destroyed barns and trees at Belle Grove , Oatlands and Montpelier all in Virginia; two ice storms ransacked Brucemore in Cedar Rapids last December and then this summer, Brucemore, which sits on a hill, served as ground zero for first responders to all the other cultural institutions in Cedar Rapids that were significantly damaged from their catastrophic floods , and just last week there was enough Gustav-induced damage at Shadows-on-the-Teche in New Iberia, LA to keep the Director from attending our conference. And so, in the 60 years since Mies van der Rohe designed the Farnsworth House in Plano, IL, there have been 60 floods – 6 of which were 100 year floods and 5 of our sites have braced for hurricanes in the past two weeks.... Read More →

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.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at bcampagna@bcampagna.com.