Author Archive

Preservation Round-Up: Harry Potter Mania Edition

Posted on: July 15th, 2011 by David Garber


Harry Potter at the Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island. What?

It's true. The final Harry Potter movie came out at midnight last night/this morning. And please, no need to be embarassed if you were the one standing in line at the local cineplex (or historic main street theater ...he says hopefully). The taped glasses, the crooked wands, the cloaks, the lightning-scars-drawn-on-the-foreheads, the Gryffindor scarves, the Bertie Botts-branded Jelly Bellys. We all have our obsessions.

Speaking of all things spellbinding and whimsical...

The Wall Street Journal covered the unveiling of the fantastically-restored St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London. Not only was this building used as the exterior for the adjacent Kings Cross Station in the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets film, but it has a very Harry Potter-esque staircase inside. (Seeing as we're the American National Trust for Historic Preservation, we typically only push stuff on this side of the pond. But with a story this great and Pottermania on the rise, the urge to publish was just. too. strong.)

Now if there was any building in Boston worthy of Harry Potter, its the Old Corner Bookstore on Diagon Alley the city's Old Newspaper Row. The cambrel-roofed brick building is the oldest commercial building in Boston, and will soon be home to the city's second Chipotle Mexican Grill.

The United States doesn't have much in the way of castles and moats, but the ornate mansions of historic Newport, Rhode Island come pretty close! A hearty congratulations to The Preservation Society of Newport County for winning the first place $25,000 prize in our This Place Matters Community Challenge!

Like Hogwarts, America prides itself on its diversity. "...For preservation to be relevant to most Americans in the 21st century it will have to take on more than aesthetics and architectural objects and also incorporate the political and cultural life of non-whites and other minorities." Agreed. The Architect's Newspaper shows what California is doing to make this progress happen.

"As preservationists we understand that Charleston is diverse, complex and inextricably linked to its maritime past. We do not involve ourselves in this issue because we seek to be frivolous nags. We are involved because we love our city." Read Preservation Society of Charleston executive director Evan R. Thompson's terrific op-ed in The Post and Courier.

Historic preservation is all about balancing old with new in a culturally and aesthetically sensitive way. Unless you're a complete purist (or like me when I lived in an old house, prioritized the kitchen and bathroom renovations before moving on to the central AC), most of us flip on the air conditioning to battle sweltering summer days. Read The Atlantic's "Keepin' it Cool: How the Air Conditioner Made Modern America," then Preservation in Pink's post on the potential for window AC units to mess with the look of historic houses.

Building on the legacy of Philip Johnson and David Whitney, who brought people from diverse backgrounds together to shape the cultural dialogue of the 20th Century, The Glass House is hosting "Glass House Conversations." Chime in to the current convo by answering the question "What would you do, if you could pursue your interests without compromise?"

Alright friends, have a great weekend. Oh, and Wingardium Leviosa! (I just made you fly. You can thank me later.)

David Garber is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He's read all the Potter books but has yet to see the final movie. Keyword yet.

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: Signs of the Times Edition

Posted on: July 7th, 2011 by David Garber


Aren't these signs the best? See below for more neon sign photos from Landmarks Illinois.

Today's round-up is coming to you from a gas station-turned-coffee-shop called Buzz Cafe in Denver's Capitol Hill neighborhood. (Who has the stats on how many Capitol Hills there are across the country??) The gas pump area has been turned into a java drive-thru and behind the rolled-up garage doors is a fantastic little wifi'd room full of chatting, typing, and newspaper-reading neighbors. *Adaptive use swoon.*

Landmarks Illinois has put together a wonderful photo set of roadside signs. Are we doing enough enough to preserve these remnants of businesses past and present? Is it important to preserve signs if the business no longer exist?

The Palmetto Trust made this great video about a happy-ending story outside of Columbia, South Carolina. After discovering the falling-apart Laurelwood mansion three years ago, The Palmetto Trust did some stabilization work and sold the home to a young Englishman who plans a full restoration.

Back in 2006, Wildwood, New Jersey's doo-wop motels were listed on the National Trust's 11 Most Endangered list. Now, 5 years later, wife and husband team Melinda and Bob Williams have published a book, “Wildwood’s Neon Nights & Motel Memories" featuring the seaside town's famous signs and stays.

Baltimore Heritage recently revealed their 2011 historic preservation award recipients, and the Baron and Company Cigar building won one of the top honors. Read about the recent restoration of this industrial jewel with an awesome painted sign announcing exactly what it was.

A real sign of the times? BBC has created what just might be the world's first historic preservation reality show: Restoration Home. The show follows six homeowners facing the often daunting challenge of modernizing historic homes, many of which have interesting stories to tell.

The Santa Fe Railyard Park and Plaza has received the silver medal Rudy Bruner Award for urban excellence. The 12-acre park is a historically-gritty-meets-modern public space that is pedestrian friendly and a great example of community-led preservation.

There's always room in here for a Good News Detroit story. The New York Times highlights the less-told story of young people moving into downtown Detroit, showing parallels to how New York neighborhoods like TriBeCa and Williamsburg have evolved over the years.

Alright friends. Happy Thursday!

David Garber is a a Colorado Native ... oh, and a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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.


Aspen Hill in Martinsburg, West Virginia. (Click photo for the listing.)

Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains
Shenandoah River
Life is old there
Older than the trees
Younger than the mountains
Growin' like a breeze.

You'll be interested to know that today's real estate round-up of West Virginia homes was inspired by the above classic John Denver song. That I was listening to on repeat. On the ultra-patriotic "Sing America!" CD from 1999 that was produced to benefit the Save Americas Treasures endowment here at the National Trust. Hey, it's 4th of July weekend - allow me some proud red, white, and blue Americana.

First in line is a house with - as is common with historic properties - an amazing name: Olive Boy Farm. Located on 16 rolling hilltop acres outside of Charles Town, this brick Italianate home pretty much has it all: stream and mountain views, tree-lined drive, gardens, pool, pool house, tennis courts, three-stall barn, 11 fireplaces, high ceilings, original wood floors, two kitchens, finished lower level, and amazing double porches.

Just around the corner in Martinsburg is a house that has been called one of the finest period Georgian homes in the United States. Built around 1750, Aspen Hill is a grand limestone home - currently being used as a bed and breakfast - that sits on 5 acres and is only four short blocks to the closest Marc commuter train.

Last is the Halfway House in Ansted, West Virginia.

The "Halfway House," also widely known as the Tyree Tavern, is an early 19th-century timber vernacular residence-the original portion of which is a circa-1764 pioneer blockhouse-standing on the path of an early travel route to the West. It became a stage coach stop when in 1827 a toll road, the James River and Kanawha Turnpike, offered its first weekly stage line service between Lewisburg and Charleston. As a tavern and hostelry the Halfway House witnessed the comings and goings of many of the West's greatest politicians, travelers, and adventurers who sought the shortest East-West route across the great barrier formed by the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and John Breckenridge were known to have registered at the Halfway House.

Kinda makes me want to just hop in an old red Chevy and drive out there now...

Country roads, take me Home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads.

David Garber is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He'd jump in that chevy now if it weren't for the fact that he (proudly) only has a bike. Looks like he'll just be West Virginia dreamin' for now...

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: #Buffalove and Intergalactic Tacos Edition

Posted on: June 30th, 2011 by David Garber


The Digital and New Media team's mascot. (Photo: David Garber + Instagram)

Scene: The Digital and New Media office at the National Trust.  Once home to massively well-off socialites and industrialists, our office still has the formal appeal of its old-living-room-in-a-Beaux-Arts-apartment-house setting, with very noticeable hints that yes, this is the 21st century and we're comfortable coloring outside the lines a little bit. Case(s) in point: cardboard moosehead above the veined marble mantle; electric disco ball; orange Mad Men mod furniture; individual workpods flaired out in our own nods to personal interests and hometowns - you know, bumper stickers, photos, magnets, and ... cacti.

It's in this very room that PreservationNation is written, edited, and posted. (Then tweeted and facebooked.) But the blog isn't all that's created here. By now you've probably heard that this year's National Preservation Conference is in Buffalo, New York. And, following in the footsteps of last year's film project in Austin, certain members of our team have been working like _____ [insert hardworking wild, farm, or fictional creature here] putting together this  year's soon-to-be-crazy-viral documentary: Buffalo Unscripted. They've been to Buffalo, they've seen the silos, they know the tea (and beer)-drinking preservationistas, and are pretty much 24/7 #Buffalove x 1,000 until this thing drops.

But back to this round-up, because I know think that you read this blog for actual news, not behind the scenes narratives. (Come on, who turns down a good tell-all?) Anyway, my teammates on the Buffalo Unscripted project have already begun pushing out content in the form of a sweet Tumblr: check it out. Yesterday they posted this:

Buffalo: How Would You Describe Your City? from PreservationNation on Vimeo.

Continuing with the "people from the National Trust doing things" theme, the Southern Field Office (located three floors down)'s own Rob Nieweg was on WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi Show today talking preservation with host Kojo and Washington Post architecture and urbanism reporter Roger K. Lewis.

In the hour-long segment, the three discussed Woodlawn Plantation’s innovative sustainable farm and the move away from “velvet rope” preservation, weatherization, historic district requirements, and, in a very DC-focused show, Louisville, Kentucky's downtown:

They have a wonderful legacy of iron-front facades that they've preserved along Main and Market streets. They have recognized that these are, in fact, not just aesthetic and architectural assets, they’re  economic assets. Historic preservation is a very important component of the public policy of that city to continue keeping the city growing.

Boom. That's kinda what historic preservation's all about.

Del Taco in St. Louis. (Photo: Flickr user sleystl)

Across the country/world in Fairbanks, Alaska (west of the Rockies say what!), artist and urbanist Candy Chang has created an awesome and thought-provoking public piece called "Looking For Love Again." You have to click through to the Fast Company article to really get how great this is, but the piece calls attention to a large abandoned building in the city's downtown and asks residents what they want to see happen there. Chalkboards and great fonts are involved.

The Houston Press had an interesting article and slideshow called "Looking Back: Main Street in the 20th Century" about their own downtown - with a particular focus on how the concept of a historic downtown is almost completely foreign to those who grew up there in the last half-century.

"I think it holds a lot of nostalgia for people of a certain age, for people remember coming downtown to shop and go to the theater," Parsons says. "And for another group of people who grew up in Houston with everything decentralized, it's a totally foreign concept to go to one place for everything."

In Williamson, West Virginia (look out for my WV-centric real estate round-up tomorrow), the Mingo County Commission is putting the finishing restoration touches on the historic Coal House. A building made of coal, that, par for the course in these ironic times, caught fire last year.

And last but most definitely not least, The Architect's Newspaper reports that St. Louis is fighting an intergalactic (-looking, at least) preservation battle for the 1967 Del Taco building, a flying saucer of a building that might get torn down and replaced by a shopping center. The Save Del Taco facebook page has over 12,000 fans - that's a lot of modernism fans. And if saved, a heckuva lot of tacos.

David Garber is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He likes documentaries. And chalkboards. And tacos. [stomach growl]

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: Beyond the Monuments Edition

Posted on: June 27th, 2011 by David Garber


MLK Avenue in Historic Anacostia will soon see a block of abandoned buildings restored.

From the outside looking in, it's easy to think "Washington, DC" and have your mind immediately turn to glowing white marble monuments, Capitol Hill interns, power-plays made in smoke-filled private clubs, secret service-people holding one hand to their curly earpieces, and the mix of FBI t-shirt-wearing tourists and fast-walking urban professionals flooding in and out of the cavernous underground Metro system.

But there's so much more - as many of you well know - than just that. I won't pretend I don't have a bit of a DC bias. I live here, I work here, and I even hold elected office here. I love that DC is reinventing itself, pulling itself up from its bootstraps, and giving entire neighborhoods fresh coats of paint, new destinations, and a whir of excitement that has a refreshing air of positivity to it. Things are happening. The city is cool again.

Here's a spattering of preservation-related news from the Nation's Capital.

433 Massachusetts Avenue NW is getting a facelift (or facemask). (Photo: Core Group PC)

14th Street NW has almost completely reinvented itself in the last 10 years. What was once a thriving commercial corridor became an abandoned shell of itself after the 1968 riots after Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. Although it wasn't bereft of life in the three decades following, it was better defined by check-cashing windows and auto-repair lots than the scene that's there now. One example of the transformation are the plans to turn a long-empty dry cleaners into a "super-French" Parc bistro. The building will be completely restored and remediated. The site is right at the heart of the Logan Circle neighborhood's re-emergence, and will join a slew of other local and national retailers that have opened on the street in the last decade.

On the other side of downtown, one little survivor (right) is finally getting a facelift. Sandwiched between two high-rises (for DC - which means about 14 floors), the 433 Massachusetts Avenue is the definition of a owner holdout gone, well, not so great for the owner. Back in 2003 the owner was offered upwards of $3 million for the property, but after holding out for a bigger payday, eventually sold it for much less. The building is now under construction to become a restaurant, and will get a modern-meets-preservation upgrade. What do you think of the plans?

Across the city in Historic Anacostia (Note: the following link is from my own personal neighborhood blog. Not trying to steal the show here, just passing on the news...), one very visibly neglected block in the neighborhood that once boasted Frederick Douglass as a resident is finally about to see some restoration and economic development. Called the "Big K" block for the liquor store that now sits on the corner, the stretch of Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue SE was purchased by the city last year and is now the subject of a neighborhood-based planning meetings to decide what will come next. As you can see in the image above, the block is home to two large Italianate single-family homes that will be completely restored as part of the block's redevelopment.

In the not-really-news-but-hey-it's-cool-anyway category, the blog New Columbia Heights detailed how the c. 1880 Warder Mansion moved locations in 1923. Here's the kicker - most of the moving was done, brick by brick, in the back of a Model T.

Now clearly this was just a small showing of what's going on across Washington, DC, but at least it shows that there's life off the mall that's worth checking out. And fortunately, a lot of that new life is taking place in old buildings. Win!

David Garber is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Speaking of new uses for old buildings, he's just heading to a press event where the mayor is announcing seven new restaurant leases in the historic Yards neighborhood of DC. Ciao!

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: Things to Do, Places to See Edition

Posted on: June 24th, 2011 by David Garber


Magnolia Bridge in New Orleans is host to a kids breakfast this Saturday. See below for details. (Photo: Flickr user cmh2315fl)

Friday! Weekend! July 4th coming up! Summertime! Basically there are tons of opportunities for getaways, unique experiences - we know you well enough to generalize - historic tours! Today’s round-up is all about cool things happening around the country that you should check out and sign up for. Time to take this preservation love to the streets!

This weekend:

Art Glass Done Wright - for Kids

Where: Robie House, 5757 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago

When: June 25, 2011, from 9:00 - 11:00 am

From the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust: Frank Lloyd Wright designed art-glass windows and doors for his Prairie style buildings. After a brief tour of the Robie House windows, participants will be guided in creating their own art-glass designs using tracing paper, colored pencils, construction paper, and examples of Wright’s work.

Ages 7 and up with an adult. Advance tickets required.

Price: $5 per child.

RSVP: Register Online

The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust hosts Summer Saturdays events all summer long. Find out more on their website.

Bayou Bridge Breakfast

Where: Magnolia Bridge, Moss Street and Harding Drive, New Orleans

When: Saturday, June 25 at 9 a.m.

From the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans: Bring your picnic blankets and chairs, and meet under the large oak tree near the Magnolia Bridge. Re-Bridge will provide complimentary breakfast for the children, and coffee and water for the adults. Attendees will get a brief introduction to two of the historic bridges that span the bayou.

Following breakfast, the PRC will use the lessons from their "My City, My Home" program to provide a walking tour interpreting the portage and architecture of the area.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will demonstrate the art of casting for fish, and teach the children how to interpret specimen samples taken from the bayou.

Volunteer artists will assist the children with painting a giant mural to span the Magnolia Bridge.

Price: Free!

RSVP: none required

LGBT History of the East Village: A Walking Tour

Where: East Village, New York, NY – Specific location upon registration

When: Sunday, June 26, 12:00 to 2:00 p.m.

From the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation: The Stonewall Riot of 1969 is often regarded as the birth of the modern LGBT movement, inspiring people across the country to organize in support of gay rights. But gay culture has a long history in New York.

Back in the 1880s queer and transvestite bordellos opened on the Bowery not far from the theaters where, 80 years later, Andy Warhol staged transvestite musicals for gay audiences. The East Village was home to the pre-eminent gay artists of the 20th century—Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, Taylor Mead, William S. Burroughs, Quentin Crisp, Klaus Nomi, Keith Haring, among many more. There they found the freedom to write, perform, paint, create, and flourish as themselves, surrounded by the radical arts, activism, and anarchy of the neighborhood. On this walking tour, we will explore significant sites of gay history, along with the artists, writers and musicians whose contributions dovetailed with LGBT culture.

Price: Free; reservations required.

RSVP: or 212-475-9585 ext. 35

Next Weekend:

The Preservation Pedal

Where: The new Washington County Courthouse, Springfield, KY

When: Saturday, July 2 at 8:15 a.m.

From Preservation Kentucky: The Preservation Pedal is the first annual bicycle tour sponsored by Preservation Kentucky, the statewide historic preservation nonprofit.  This event will be held yearly to highlight historic downtowns and rural buildings in a different community across the Commonwealth. PK also intends for this to support local businesses and raise awareness of our organization, bike touring, and bike friendly amenities in small town KY.  All proceeds will go to assist Preservation Kentucky in furthering our mission of historic preservation education and advocacy.

Come join us in historic Springfield/Washington County for a balmy July ride.  You will see an original wooden covered bridge, the 1816 Courthouse, and the beautiful rolling coutryside surrounding historic Springfield.

Price: $35

RSVP: Register Online

4th of July:

Celebration at the Empire State Building Observatory

Where: Empire State Building, New York, NY

When: Monday, July 4, 8:00 to 9:30 p.m.

From the Empire State Building’s Facebook page: Experience the awe of seeing the famous annual fireworks display for New York City at eye level, 1,050 feet up in the sky, during our private signature event.  Take in the most spectacular views of Manhattan, the Hudson River, and beyond from the world’s most famous building.

Only a limited number of tickets for this exclusive event are available on a first-come, first served basis, and all sales are final.  Please note that this is a “standing only” fireworks viewing on the Observation Deck.  A cash bar will also be available on the 80th floor with service provided by The Empire Room.

Price: $114.81

RSVP: Register Online

More 4th of July celebrations from Gozaic

Our Gozaic travel partner put together a great list of Independence Day celebrations at historic sites around the country - check it out!

Coming up:

Scottsburg Moveable Feast

Where: Scottsburg, Indiana

When: Friday, July 15 from 4 to 9 p.m.

From Indiana Landmarks: The Scottsburg Movable Feast starts with a walking tour of the courthouse square followed by appetizers at the Scottsburg Heritage Station. A loan from Indiana Landmarks helped restore and adapt the 1872 depot, one of our favorite “before and after” contrasts.

Jeeves and Company hosts dinner and awards on the second floor of the c.1910 commercial buildings the restaurant occupies on the courthouse square. We conclude with dessert at the Scott County Heritage Center and Museum in former Scott County Home, built in 1892.

Price: $30/member; $45/non-member. Reservations required.

RSVP: or 812-284-4534


Self-Guided Tour of Safety Last! Locations

Where: Downtown Los Angeles, CA

Harold Lloyd filmed his first feature‐length thrill comedy Safety Last! (1923) in the Historic Core of downtown Los Angeles during the summer of 1922. Take this self-guided tour to see where and how the filmmaker staged the film's "climbing on skyscrapers" sequence.

David Garber is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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.