Author Archive

 

Written by Amy Braun

The Hancock Village School in Vermont.

The Hancock Village School in Vermont.

The nation’s oldest operating schoolhouse, established in 1801, will close its doors late June this year.

When the building was first built, Thomas Jefferson was president. Back then, a wood-stove (not oil) was used to keep children warm. Many kids cooked their lunch potatoes on top of the wood stove while learning the three R’s right alongside their siblings. Teachers were paid for their services in cords of wood and when pencils needed to be sharpened they used a jack-knife. During the depression, no one in town had a job and the town fought to keep their school and identity alive. Times have changed.

Using the democratic process, 102 voters came together in the Town Hall in Hancock, Vermont on May 7, 2009. They held about a thirty minute discussion before voting to close the doors to their village school. Only 37 of the 102 wanted to keep the school open. The moderator announced the school had been closed, and some of the people in the room cheered and applauded. I watched, feeling sad and angry.

I am not a voter in the town so I could not speak at the meeting. This venue, an on-line blog about our country's treasures, is only my vessel for my right to speak and I am grateful to have that chance.

This was the third year we have been through this emotional process. There are two sides to this issue, absolutely no middle-road. Either a person respects and appreciates the history of the building or they don’t.

Those who want the school to remain open have remained strong for three years. This year we lost.

... 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 Dione Chen

The Free China junk is the oldest Chinese wooden sailing vessel of operable condition in the world and the last of its kind.

The Free China junk is the oldest Chinese wooden sailing vessel of operable condition in the world and the last of its kind.

The Free China junk made international headlines when it crossed the Pacific with an inexperienced crew of five Chinese fishermen and one American diplomat. The oldest Chinese wooden sailing vessel of operable condition in the world and the last of its kind, the junk sits abandoned at a Sacramento delta boatyard, and will be chopped up and burned if a new home is not found by the end of this May.

I never planned to spearhead efforts to preserve this historic vessel. But standing before it in late 2007 with my children, I thought that I must try.

Since then, I’ve traveled a steep learning curve in historic preservation – and it’s been an amazing journey.

To California by Sea – A Story of Immigration

I have a personal connection to the Free China junk. My father was one of the 1955 crew. Growing up in California, I took my father’s story of how he came to America for granted. It was not until he passed away in fall 2007 that I visited the junk along with my young children, my mother, brother and a local journalist. We found the junk a mess, and on the verge of being destroyed.

I wanted to save the junk. I believed I could. I transformed that belief into a commitment by telling the journalist to state in her article that I was going to try to save the junk. It was a thrill to see the article on the front page of the San Jose Mercury News. And so my education began…

Preservation Vision

Knowing next to nothing about historic preservation and maritime restoration myself, I founded Chinese Junk Preservation together with a small group of historians, maritime experts and friends of the Free China junk. Our vision: to preserve the junk and the story of its transpacific voyage so that they may generate public awareness and appreciation of maritime, Chinese and California history and culture. We dream that the Free China--a distinctive, once-beautiful and now rare vessel--might serve as a tribute to past generations of immigrants who have traveled by sea to come to America, and a catalyst for inspiring others to explore their rich family history before the people and memories have passed.
... 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.

Boston's Sites Spark Poetry and Inspiring Stories

Posted on: May 5th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

Written by James Igoe

I was amazed at April 14th’s Partners in Preservation launch by the significance of the 25 projects selected for the program, ranging from the oldest—The Old Ship Meeting House in Hingham, erected in 1681—to the most recent, Boston's New England Aquarium, constructed in 1969. As the statewide non-profit, we at Preservation Massachusetts were thrilled by the great turnout at the press conference at Faneuil Hall, which included Mayor Thomas Menino and Governor Deval Patrick, both promoting historic preservation and the importance of this National Trust/ American Express partnership.

Today, a little over two weeks into the voting period, the interest in the program and the voting turnout has clearly been incredible. We’ve talked to so many individuals who are working feverishly to promote their own favorite projects. We’ve also found that one of our favorite elements of the program has turned out to be the user-generated content on the Partners in Preservation website—the personal stories that members of the public have submitted about the 25 historic places. The other day I was particularly struck by a poem that a woman had posted which described her experience touring the United First Parish Church in Quincy. It was wonderful to see that a short visit to the church was enough to inspire serious reflection and creativity.

For us, reading these personal stories makes it even more impossible to select a winner, as it drives home the worthiness of all the 25 places—they’ve all shaped countless lives. If you’d like to make our voting decisions even harder by sharing your own experiences with any of the sites, go to that place’s page under the Explore tab, click “Learn More” and then “Add your story.” We’d love to see what you contribute.

And, of course, please continue to also contribute by casting your votes every day through May 17th. What a great way to promote historic preservation and provide funding for some great properties! Hats off to the National Trust and American Express!

James Igoe is the President of Preservation Massachusetts

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.

Teaching Preservation: Change Is in the Air

Posted on: May 1st, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

A couple of weeks ago, we blogged about our big move to our new school building. A few weeks in, we’re still adjusting, but here are some initial thoughts (and photos).

The new Research History nook.

The new Research History nook.

So, what’s the main difference between our old school and this new palace? Security…to the tune of 69 cameras throughout our halls, automatically locking doors and required visitor passes. I also still have trouble with the stairs, which I’m only allowed to use at certain times. We have great technological capabilities, but not so great technology (hence our posts being few and far in between lately). Also, each classroom is equipped with two microphones, which Mr. LaRue really doesn’t need, as you can hear him anywhere in the building.

As for Research History, we have a great little place to transcribe now (see photo to the right). It’s a little workroom in the back of the library that we have claimed as our own. We shut the door, turn on our tapes, and occasionally hunt for food and candy left behind by our librarian (don’t tell!).

Really though, I have no intention of bashing my new school, which my whole community paid for. I just miss my old school here and there. There were fewer rules, I knew my way around and, most importantly, I felt like I earned the right to be a senior there. Now, I’m just as clueless and disoriented as the freshman, which makes making fun of them difficult.

Now for the photos...

Welcome to the new Washington High School!

Welcome to the new Washington High School!

This is the new gym where, in just a few fews, I'll walk across the stage.

This is the new gym where, in just a few weeks, I'll walk across the stage.

The fancy new library.

The fancy new library.

And, on a final note, a bit of housekeeping. Today is, of course, the first day of May. Might be just another day for some, but for us high school seniors, it’s a day or reckoning because it means that graduation is literally right around the corner (holy cow!).

What it also means is that, sadly, our time together is limited. Over the next two weeks, we’ll post our final stories about Good Hope and life in Research History, and that’s it. Dunzo. Finished. Finito.

Stay tuned…

- Sara S.

Sara S. is a senior at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. For the remainder of this semester, she’ll be working with her Research History classmates on a variety of preservation projects, including documenting and preserving local cemeteries like Good Hope. Stay tuned as they share their experiences here on our blog and on their Flickr photostream.

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.

 

Today marks the launch of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Something

Kalaupapa Peninsula on the Island of Moloka’i

As we look forward to celebrating Asian and Pacific Island culture in America, we begin today with some good news about federal legislation - proposed and passed - that will provide much-needed resources for the preservation of sites of Japanese internment during World War II.

In March, the federal Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 appropriated $1 million for the preservation of Japanese American confinement sites. Administered by the National Park Service, this funding will support the interpretation, protection and restoration of these historic places.

Also in March, President Barack Obama signed into law the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 , which includes over 160 bills related to public lands, national parks, historic sites and battlefields, conservation and wilderness designation, national heritage areas and corridors, and historic trails.

Receiving broad, bipartisan support in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate, this milestone legislation establishes a memorial in Kalaupapa National Historical Park, which is located on the island of Moloka’i in Hawai’i. The primary story being told at Kalaupapa National Historical Park is that of the forced isolation from 1866 until 1969 of people from Hawai'i afflicted with Hansen's disease (leprosy).

Also included in the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 is the authorization of a special resource study of the Tule Lake Segregation Center in Modoc County, California, to determine the suitability and feasibility of establishing a new unit of the National Park System. Tule Lake is the site of one of the largest and most controversial Japanese American internment camps. It is also the only camp that was turned into a high-security segregation center. In December 2008, President George Bush declared the site part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.

On April 23, Senator Dan Inouye of Hawai’i introduced legislation to have the Secretary of the Interior conduct a study to determine if internment camp sites in Hawai’i are eligible for designation as National Park sites. The legislation focuses on sites identified in a report completed in 2007 by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i, including Honouliuli Gulch, Sand Island, the U.S. Immigration Station on Oahu, the Kīlauea Military Camp on the Big Island, Haiku Camp and Wailuku County Jail on Maui, and the Kalāheo Stockade and Waialua County Jail on Kauai. The National Trust for Historic Preservation partially funded archaeological studies at Honouliuli Gulch in 2008, and recently signed a letter of support to Senator Inouye (with six cooperating organizations) in favor of the new legislation.

- Denise Ryan & Elaine Stiles

Denise Ryan is the program manager for public lands policy at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Elaine Stiles is a program officer in the Western 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.