Author Archive

Ruth Abram: Explaining Today through Stories of Yesterday

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by Guest Writer 4 Comments

 

Written by Sophia Dembling

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Left: Ruth Abram, former president and now trustee emerita of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Right: Museum visitors enjoy a guided tour.

Ruth Abram believes museums can and should be more than repositories of the past; they should also provide insight into the present and inspire hope for the future.

That was Abram's vision in 1992, when she co-founded (with Anita Jacobsen) the Lower East Side Tenement Museum (a National Trust Historic Site) in New York City, one of the most interesting museums in a city full of them. Past president and now trustee emerita, Abram leaves the running of the museum to others these days ("I don't fiddle," she says. "They're doing a great job."), but remains busy with other projects, including Sites of Conscience and Behold! New Lebanon, a living museum being developed in the rural New York town where Abram lives.

We caught up with Abram to talk about the development of the Tenement Museum and her vision for it. (Responses have been edited for clarity and length.)... 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.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

This Old House: Fisherman Brown’s Cottage

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by Guest Writer 2 Comments

 

Written by Susan Pollack

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Susan Pollack and her husband spent years hunting for their dream home, ultimately choosing this 1735 cottage in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

The day my husband and I bought our house, the real estate agent gave us a loose-leaf binder with copies of maps and deeds dating back to 1735, when a fisherman named Joseph Brown built the Cape Ann Cottage.

For years we had looked at houses. We’d hoped to find a roomy, if neglected, Victorian that, with our efforts, might one day resemble one of the Gloucester houses celebrated by Edward Hopper. But “an antique?” That’s how our agent described the tiny gambrel-roofed cottage. Seeing its exposed adze-hewn beams, wide pine floorboards and fireplace, we said yes immediately.

I had lived in other people’s homes all of my adult life. Suddenly, I was not only a homeowner, but a steward of a piece of Cape Ann history. What does it mean to acquire a building with an historic marker posted on its clapboards? Does one’s responsibility go beyond keeping cedar shingles on the roof and a satellite dish off it? When you buy a house, do you inherit a responsibility to its history as well?... 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.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

 

Written by Kristi Eaton

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This photo shows the Rio Siesta Motel sign along Route 66 in Oklahoma in 1983.

Billboards, the ubiquitous advertising tool that sells everything from toothpaste to cars to dental service, have changed a lot over the years.

Now, a group of sign-makers, community activists, and Route 66 enthusiasts are coming together in Oklahoma to try to preserve and restore historical billboards, murals, and other signs from across the country with the eventual goal to open up a museum dedicated purely to this American tradition. The group envisions the Billboard Museum as an educational museum immersing visitors in the history and how-to of sign making at a yet-to-be determined location along Route 66 in the Oklahoma City metro area.... 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.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

 

Written by Daniel Ronan, Site Projects & Public Engagement Coordinator, National Public Housing Museum

Muralist Hector Duarte in front of his Pilsen home and studio, with "Gulliver in Wonderland" mural.
Muralist Hector Duarte in front of his Pilsen home and studio, with "Gulliver in Wonderland" mural.

“Morally, there needs to be a defense of public art,” says Hector Duarte, an accomplished Mexican-American muralist and painter sitting in his Chicago home and studio of fifteen years.

Pilsen, his neighborhood, has been squarely Latino since the mid-1960s, and has been a haven for exploring the mural as an artistic medium. With murals up and down the community’s main thoroughfare of 18th Street, it’s hard not to spot several towering masterpieces depicting cultural, political, and religious themes exquisitely painted over 150-year-old masonry.

Originally a German and Irish neighborhood, and later Czech, Pilsen’s vibrant street life -- now filled with taco joints, bodegas, and thrift stores -- masks a broader struggle. With higher-than-average crime, increased development, and changing demographics, many consider the neighborhood ripe for gentrification. Moving south and west in the city, many Latinos have planted new roots in Little Village, affectionately called “La Villita” by the locals.

Broader demographic and neighborhood changes place the future of historic mural art into question. Can Pilsen hold onto its legacy of mural art given the increased pressures of development, the ephemeral nature of artwork exposed to the elements, and a shift in thinking of younger generations away from the lasting relevance of mural art?... 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.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

 

Spotlight on National Treasures: Villa Lewaro

Left: A portrait of Madam Walker; Right: A'lelia Bundles
Left: A portrait of Madam Walker; Right: A'Lelia Bundles, Walker's great-great-granddaughter.

Written by A’Lelia Bundles

Every time I walk through the doors of Villa Lewaro -- the mansion my great-great-grandmother, Madam C. J. Walker, called her “dream of dreams” -- I always take a moment to imagine the ancestors and the magic they must have felt in these rooms. From the columns of its majestic portico to the balustrades of its grand terrace, the original stucco facade sparkled with marble dust and glistening grains of white sand when the washerwoman-turned-millionaire took possession in May 1918.... 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.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.