Author Archive

Murder, Bestsellers, and Historic Preservation

Posted on: July 8th, 2009 by Guest Writer 1 Comment

 

Written by Ethiel Garlington

Alexander Inn (The Guest House)

Alexander Inn (The Guest House)

Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in East Tennessee, there is a special region where almost every small town finds itself beautifully positioned on a river, lake, or other body of water. The uniqueness of this region is marked by the most visited National Park in the country, a "Secret City" where the atomic bomb was developed, the first court ordered integrated school in the south, and the childhood home of best-selling author Cormac McCarthy.

One of the most important facets of my position as a Partner in the Field for East Tennessee is creating a network of like-minded individuals who can learn from Knox Heritage, each other, and national counterparts. Though I just began in November 2008, I've quickly learned the power of collaboration.  There are myriad individuals and organizations interested in preserving different facets of history: historical societies, genealogical societies – even cemetery associations.  But because many of these groups thrive in a region where family roots are still strong, they are interested mostly in personal history – they are driven to save the stories of their people.  For most of these groups, the preservation of the historic built environment is not their main goal.

In some cases, people may not initially see their connection to the preservation of historic structures.  By linking the personal histories with the existing tangible structures, we're able to strengthen the link to the past, and in turn, strengthen the argument for historic preservation.   While historical markers on the side of highways are useful, they can never compare to the actual historic landmark.  By linking groups that share common interests, collaborating with the historical associations and listening to the various goals of the cemetery enthusiasts and the genealogical societies, the efforts to preserve the built environment are strengthened many times over.

Here's an example: in February, the newly founded East Tennessee Preservation Alliance (ETPA) helped the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association (ORHPA) host a fundraiser – with a twist.  By combining forces with renowned authors Jon Jefferson and Dr. William Bass, who with HarperCollins Publishing were releasing the fourth novel in their "Body Farm" series, local historic preservationists were able to tap into a new audience – the fans of the Body Farm.   Bones of Betrayal, the latest tome from Jefferson Bass, is set in Manhattan Project-era Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

... 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.

Celebrate America's Birthday on a Main Street that Matters

Posted on: July 2nd, 2009 by Guest Writer 1 Comment

 

By Andrea Dono

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Families in Clinton, Missouri line Main Street to watch the annual Olde Glory Days parade.

No plans for the Fourth yet? Consider heading to Main Street!

America’s historic downtowns are the perfect backdrop for celebrating Independence Day, and visiting these special places gives us an opportunity to reflect on our heritage and to enjoy Americana in an authentic setting. As a result, Main Streets throughout the nation are welcoming neighbors and new visitors this weekend with a wide variety of events that run the gamut from traditional community gatherings to blow-out patriotic events.

Earlier this week, we created a special web page for Main Street leaders and enthusiasts to post descriptions of how their towns are celebrating our nation’s birthday, as well as to upload photos of their holiday events. So, what’s happening on Main Street? Lots!

Williamsburg, Kentucky isn’t waiting for Saturday to get started. Come Friday, the streets will be closed off for their Old Fashioned Block Party, which features live music and dancing. Hopefully, Williamsburg residents won’t party too hard because Saturday starts with a benefit 5K run/walk. A parade through downtown and a fireworks display will cap off the evening, while other events like the annual corn toss tournament and the town's duck races keep the celebrations rolling throughout the weekend.

Clinton, Missouri starts early, ends late, and seems to out-do itself every year with its four-day Olde Glory Days, which features free entertainment for everyone. There’s going to be music, weiner dog races and a pet parade, a carnival, a quilt show, a fine arts show, and the debut of a Wii tournament, among so many more activities. Visitors can enjoy the state’s largest courthouse square, many historic building ad murals, Breanna’s soda fountain shop, and a 1921 bandstand. Olde Glory Days is sponsored by the local business community, which uses the July 4th weekend to show Clinton residents how much they are appreciated. Similarly, the celebration in Charles City, Iowa spans five days every year and attracts enough people to double the city’s population! A variety of entertainment and activities are planned for all ages, including its most unique element – a water ski show.

Located 30 minutes north of Baton Rouge, St. Francisville, Louisiana offers unspoiled outdoor recreation, a plethora of historic plantations, and culinary adventures ranging from fried chicken served up at a converted gas station to alligator bites and crawfish boils. Visitors shopping in the historic district on the 4th get to participate in a “flag pull.” Secretly marked flags are at every checkout counter, and shoppers pick one to receive discounts of varying amounts or perhaps even a special gift. After putting away all of their purchases, people gather to enjoy food, music and fireworks.

I don’t know about you, but these events sound like a blast. We invite you to catch the excitement and enjoy this holiday in your nearby historic community. Attending Main Street events, shopping at local businesses, and supporting your local revitalization program shows that you believe that Main Street matters. Want to find a Main Street near you? Search for one with our Main Street program locator.

And of course, it’s not too late to share your community’s celebrations and photos. Visit our Red, White and Blue Main Streets web page to submit yours today.

Andrea L. Dono is an associate editor for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street Center. She would like to wish everyone a very happy Fourth of July.

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.

 

By George McDaniel

Watson Hill

Strong preservation campaigns are needed to protect the historic Ashley River Region from development threats. (Photo: Brad Nettles)

I am thrilled to report a positive outcome in our long campaign to stop the mega-development, Watson Hill, and to preserve the historic Ashley River Region.

The wonderful news is that the timber company, MeadWestvaco, which initially sold the tract in July 2004, is re-purchasing Watson Hill and folding it into their larger conservation-minded land development project named East Edisto. Ken Seeger, project manager of East Edisto, informed me last week that they had signed a contract and explained that they envision following the county ordinance we finally got passed for the district in 2007, which calls for low densities and clustering.

Had the developers of Watson Hill won and developed their 4,500 proposed units – along with hotels, commercial center and golf courses – the impact on the Ashley River Region would have been tremendous.

Since the 1990's and early 2000's, Drayton Hall and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have been engaged in protecting and preserving the Ashley River Region. Through our work, we have secured a management plan for the river; bought the land across the river from Drayton Hall; passed an ordinance in the city of North Charleston requiring 100-foot vegetative buffers for the Drayton Hall, Middleton and Magnolia historic sites; and won designation of the river as a state scenic river, and of the road as both a state and national scenic byway.

But threats still abounded, and in 1996, we designated the region to our 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list. Unfortunately, many of our efforts, even for simple things (much less zoning changes to protect the region), were met with vehement public hostility in regards to property rights and were defeated decisively by the Dorchester County Council.

We knew there was danger, but even as of 2004, I had never heard of Watson Hill. In late July of that year, I got a telephone call while on vacation from a developer asking me if I'd heard of the recent sale of Watson Hill and the plans for development there. I asked, "Where's Watson Hill?" Little did I know that for almost the next five years, it would be very much a part of my life and that of hundreds, if not thousands, of our supporters.

Both in word and deed, this support was decisive to this remarkable victory. Please join me in celebrating!

Learn More About the Ashley River Region:

> Drayton Hall

> The Ashley River Historic District

> Map: The Ashley River Region, Courtesy of Drayton Hall

> Map: Ashley River Region Threats and Opportunities, City of Charleston, Planning & Neighborhoods Department

> In the News: The Watson Hill Victory (Charleston Post & Courier)

> In the News: There are Good Reasons to be Optimistic About Watson Hill (Charleston Post & Courier)

George McDaniel is the director of Drayton Hall, a National Trust Historic Site in Charleston, SC.

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.

 

sagrada-familia-banner

By Priya Chhaya

Imagine a construction project in the United States lasting 127 years.

Something

Barcelona's Sagrada Familia is 127 years in the making...and still counting!

It’s pretty hard to do, isn’t it?

This past June, I stepped into a structure that has been under construction for just that long – and will continue to be worked on until its completion many, many years from now.

This is Barcelona’s famed Sagrada Familia. Arches – sweeping and fingerlike – frame an entryway flanked by imagery and sculpture narrating the history of the Christian faith. Here and there, splashes of color indicate the handiwork of Antoni Gaudi, the master architect behind other Barcelona landmarks such as Casa Mila/La Pedrera and Parc Guell. It is a masterpiece with its own history beyond that of the hundreds of people who have worked on it.

This is a preservation story of a different kind – not of a building locked in time, but one that is quite literally entwined with the present. The construction uses some modern planning and drafting technology, but depends mostly on the written descriptions of Gaudi’s followers (a fire during the Spanish Civil War destroyed the original models and plans). More importantly, this magnificent cathedral is a part of Barcelona’s ever-changing identity, and in preserving the traditional trades and styles, the generations of workers and designers are making history.

The construction of the Sagradi Familia is dependant entirely on donations and entrance fees. The estimated completion date for the cathedral is 2026 – 100 years after Gaudi’s accidental death on the Sagrada Familia site.

I know that the places we fight for all have a deep connection to our own personal identities. Please take a moment and share with us a place that defines where you live and/or who you are. What stories does it tell?

Priya Chhaya is the program assistant in the office of Training and Online Information Services 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.

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.

Protecting & Preserving Historic Harpers Ferry

Posted on: June 30th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

Harpers Ferry

By Nell Ziehl

Last Thursday, June 25, was a great day for Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

In an event cosponsored by the National Park Service and the West Virginia Civil War Sesquicentennial Commissions, the Civil War Preservation Trust transferred 176 acres of critical battlefield land to the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The transfer ceremony, held on the historic School House Ridge, was part of several planned events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the legendary John Brown’s Raid.

A controversial abolitionist infamous for fighting slavery through violent insurrections, John Brown put Harpers Ferry on the map when his 1859 attempt to incite a slave revolt in this mountain town sent shockwaves through the nation. Though he was ultimately defeated by Colonel Robert E. Lee, Brown’s actions are widely credited as being the spark that helped ignite the fire of the Civil War.

However, despite these amazing stories and the great work being done to preserve them, the fight to protect this historic place continues today.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently cosigned a letter with the Civil War Preservation Trust and the National Parks Conservation Association requesting that the Department of the Interior reopen an investigation on the private development interests that, in August 2006, used heavy equipment to illegally dig two massive parallel trenches (totaling 45 feet wide, 5-10 feet deep and nearly 2,000 feet long) through the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

Immediately following this destructive excavation of a treasured American landscape, the same coalition reached out to the Bush Administration and urged that the illegal activity be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Unfortunately, the case was not pursued, leaving open the possibility that the perpetrators could profit from their illegal trespass.

Today, we are hopeful that the Obama Administration will take up the case, which could otherwise set a terrible precedent for America’s national parks.

Nell Ziehl is a program officer for the Southern Field Office of 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.

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.