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:  Mr. Robertson, son of a teacher at Mary Ray School, works hard to clean up the building. (Credit: Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation)

: Mr. Robertson, son of a teacher at Mary Ray School, works hard to clean up the building. (Credit: Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation)

The Mary Ray Memorial School, one of The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2009 Places in Peril, was the site of a community workday this past Saturday, March 14th. The Georgia Trust has been engaging this year’s Places in Peril with spotlight events. “Each spotlight event has been different, as the needs of each endangered property have been different,” said Georgia Trust President, Mark C. McDonald.

The Mary Ray Memorial School has been the hub of the Raymond Community for a century now and although it had fallen into disrepair in the late 1980’s there is a strong grassroots group working on the building’s comeback. Deeded to the trustees of the people of the town of Raymond in the early part of the 20th Century the Mary Ray School was used as a School until the late 1940’s thereafter becoming a community center.

The workday began with volunteers arriving and being greeted with Paula Stanford’s homemade sausage and biscuits. After a few moments of conversation and organizing of ladders and tools the volunteers were gathered together by Allen Robertson, President of the Mary Ray Schoolhouse organization. Allen greeted everyone and discussed the projects that would occur throughout the day emphasizing that the point of the day’s activity was not only to work but also to have fellowship and enjoy the day. Mark C. McDonald thereafter announced The Georgia Trust would be awarding a matching grant to the Mary Ray Memorial School as part of its Partners in the Field Program for the amount of $10,000 for the restoration and stabilization of the building. In announcing the grant, Mark said” The volunteers of the Mary Ray School embody the very spirit of preservation and it is an honor for The Georgia Trust to be working with this group.”

Volunteers, ranging in age from 90 to 7, accomplished a lot in just one day. A bathroom addition was removed and recycled. The porch was painted and large sections of recycled trim pieces were scraped and prepped for future installation. A large section of flooring was replaced as well as a section of beaded ceiling. Debris was removed from the pockets behind wainscoting and other areas in the interior. Volunteer Cindy Eidson said, “The whole experience was wonderful and I really feel as if I have a vested interest with the building now.”

-- Jordan H. Poole

Jordan H. Poole is the Field Services Manager for the The Georgia Trust.

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 (& Diversity)

Posted on: March 12th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

Something

Notes from the Teacher's Desk

As an educator, you can’t make important classroom decisions in a vacuum.

In Research History, I always try to interject a healthy dose of diversity into my curriculum, but not just because of the rich and invaluable context it adds to my lesson plans. You see, the State of Ohio has the following stats to report when it comes to the demographic make-up of my rural school district:

.7% Hispanic, 1% Asian/Pacific Islander, 2.8% Black/Non-Hispanic, 3.6% Multi-Racial and 91.9% Caucasian/Non-Hispanic.

Because diversity doesn’t necessarily jump out at us from the window of our classroom, I feel like integrating it into our projects is something that I simply must do whenever possible.

That’s why I make the choices that I do. It’s also why I think now – as we leave Black History Month, enter Women’s History Month, and prepare for the many others in line on the calendar – is the perfect time to reflect on the “how” factor.

Something

A field photo from one of my previous classes.

Since I started my class in 1998, my students and I have work on several hands-on projects (you know that’s my thing) that not only teach important history lessons, but carry equally important messages about people and the human experience. For example, I invite you all to explore the lesson plans that I developed for my most recent partnership with the History Channel and their Take a Vet to School Day program. While the idea is to tell the stories of our country’s African-American soldiers, the lesson can and should be used as a model to tell the stories of women service members and their peers from different ethnic backgrounds.

Over the years, former Research History students have also developed an Emancipation Day website (my students researched and asked the State of Ohio to designate September 22 as our official Emancipation Day), conducted an archeological project at the Gist Settlement, created an online catalogue of the burials of African-American soldiers throughout our state, and learned (and then conveyed in their own words) inspiring stories about the Freedom Fighters.

All of these projects have given my students the opportunity to preserve cultural diversity in our community, even if it’s not always apparent to the naked eye. In the same way, I encourage all teachers to get inspired and to look beyond their classroom windows when penning their own lesson plans.

- Paul LaRue

Paul LaRue teaches Research History at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. The ultimate “hands-on” classroom experience, his course takes students into the field to learn about preservation and community service. Stay tuned this semester as Paul and his students document their project at Good Hope Cemetery here on our blog and on their Flickr photostream. Also, keep an eye out for future “Notes from the Teacher’s Desk” columns from Paul himself.

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: The Truth About Sixth Period

Posted on: March 9th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

Something

The Good Hope Quilt

As we get deeper and deeper into the semester, there’s really something you should know about us.

When we talk about Research History, we’re not talking about a normal class that meets at the same time every day. (Come on, you should know by now that there’s really nothing normal about Research History.) The truth is, we’re actually spread out over multiple periods throughout the day.

For me, sixth period is Research History, and I fondly remember my first day because it’s when I discovered that I would be a class of one. Seriously. All of my classmates who you’ve met here on our blog are all signed up for different periods, so I literally have the classroom to myself. To say the least, it was an environment that I wasn’t used to; most classes have more than one student, allowing you to ride the coattails of those around you (not that I would ever do anything like that, of course). And though I have lots of room to spread out, I wasn’t sure if flying solo was going to be a good thing in the long run.

I started the semester out by listening to a transcript of one of the first Vietnam veterans who we interviewed for the Veterans History Project. It was during this first project that I quickly realized what makes Research History tick. The first-hand accounts of history are so rich and interesting that it makes us students really enjoy what we're doing and learning about.

I have to say, no textbook has ever caught my attention like the stories of the men and women who served our country on foreign soil. The transcribing that I’ve done so far has taught me more about Vietnam than I ever thought I’d know. The raw emotion of the soldiers, the logistics of some of the campaigns, all the names and places…things that would require pages and pages of reading to pick up on, I got in an hour of listening to a cassette tape. It’s pretty mind blowing when you stop and think about it.

For my second project of the semester, I was paired up with Shannon (a classmate from a different period). We were tasked with writing an article on the Good Hope Quilt, which was auctioned off after being made by the women of Good Hope during the final years of World War I. Ultimately purchased by a Civil War veteran, the quilt was signed by 180 people in our area. Just a few days ago, I completed the article, which includes quotes from the oral history of one of the family members of the original purchaser of the quilt.

At the end of the day though, one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned in sixth period is how to stay organized and manage my time. (You kind of have to when all eyes are on you!) From being in a class of 25 to a class of just one, I’ve really realized (and started to better appreciate) my ability to hold my own.

Good luck finding that in any textbook.

- Dennis A.

Dennis A. is a senior at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. This semester, he’ll be working with his Research History classmates to document and preserve Good Hope Cemetery. 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.

 

A number of inimitable members of Team Way Outside the Beltwayers can no longer recall when they participated in their first National Preservation Lobby Day, but all admit to becoming instantly hooked on the energy, camaraderie, break-neck pace, feeling of accomplishment and plain old fun that characterizes this annual event. It's the one day each year when preservation enthusiasts from across the nation storm the halls of Congress to not only speak in unison about the benefits of historic preservation, but to seek critical funding and support for national and local preservation programs and incentives.

Well, I remember the day I was officially introduced to this hallowed event as if it were yesterday. It was a dark and rainy December evening in Seattle (go figure) back in 2005 (okay, so it wasn’t all that long ago), a full month before I was slated to officially start my new job with the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. On that fateful evening, one of Washington’s most celebrated preservationists asked me to meet over a drink. I thought to myself, "how nice," but no sooner had I removed my soaking raincoat and placed my drink order that a dog-eared folder labeled “Lobby Day” was thrust upon me. And with that, the baton was ceremoniously passed to me and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. I’ll admit I had absolutely no idea what Lobby Day was when I took that first sip, but by the time I was down to my last olive, it was abundantly clear to me that Lobby Day was nothing to be trifled with. Oh, the wisdom contained in that folder.

But enough about me. Fast forward to March 2009. I’m delighted to report that the preservationist who crowned me the unofficial Lobby Day czarina (which is the glorified title for meeting scheduler, team recruiter, travel agent and general organizer, whose name would be worse than mud if she didn’t acknowledge the help of her awesome staff) continues to be the anchor of our team. And with each passing year, we build and strengthen Team Way Outside the Beltwayers by recruiting fresh, new talent to round out our cadre of stellar, seasoned veterans. Indeed, the Washington Trust raises travel scholarship funds to make it possible for the largest contingency of sharp, articulate and persuasive historic preservation enthusiasts to participate in Lobby Day. I especially want to thank Gull Industries for funding our Lobby Day scholarships this year and for supporting our advocacy efforts in D.C. every year since 2003.

For those of you interested in a slightly more detailed description of what Lobby Day is all about, I’ll start by explaining that it’s a bit of a misnomer; the annual Lobby day event organized by Preservation Action, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers and the National Trust for Historic Preservation actually spans two days, and what an absolute whirling dervish of a two day period it is.

On day one, we place ourselves in the capable hands of the experts – the real inside the beltway types – to become steeped in the issues that top our national preservation agenda. We get together as a team to strategize for our day of meetings on the Hill. We meet and mingle with wide-eyed first timers and reconnect with colleagues and friends from all across the country. On day two, we race through the halls of Congress to make meetings with all nine members of our Congressional delegation, our two Senators and our governor’s D.C. chief of staff. We articulate to each member or their staff how critically important it is to fund preservation programs (especially our state historic preservation office), improve preservation tax incentives and support local projects. Finally, we end the day by sharing stories from the trenches and raising a celebratory toast to our good work at the historic Willard Hotel, the legendary birthplace of lobbying. And yes, I’ll admit that it’s the martinis at the Willard that keep many of our team members coming back year after year.

But in all seriousness, it’s no secret that the already limited resources available for preservation are tighter than ever, making our collective efforts to foster strong relationships with our elected officials and to keep the benefits of preservation on their minds all the more critical. Team Way Outside the Beltwayers takes this work seriously, but we somehow manage to have a blast along the way.

I hope everyone checking out our adventures this year (we'll be blogging here on this blog and on our page on PreservationNation.org) will find our experiences fun and rewarding enough to consider attending Lobby Day. Come see for yourself what it’s all about and don’t be surprised if you find yourself back at the Capitol every March, racing to meetings armed with your fact sheets, one-sheeters and unbridled enthusiasm for preservation.

- Jennifer Meisner

Jennifer Meisner is the executive director of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. As noted above, she is also the unofficial Lobby Day czarina. Stay tuned to PreservationNation.org and our blog next week as we bring you all the details of her delegation's action-packed trip to D.C. for Preservation Lobby Day.

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.

Playing with the Future

Posted on: March 4th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

Using Legos to plan regional growth.

I work in the Triangle region of North Carolina, one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country, where the dividing lines between Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and the surrounding communities are beginning to fade. The terms smart growth, mixed-use, and transit-oriented development are buzzing in our ears. But, how do we integrate these planning strategies with our plans for the region’s heritage resources? And what does a box of Legos have to do with it?

I and a colleague from Preservation North Carolina (PNC) participated in the Urban Land Institute’s Reality Check, regional planning exercise. As PNC's Partner in the Field focusing on urban preservation issues in Raleigh, the exercise was a unique opportunity for me to look at the Triangle area regionally and see how regional issues affect preservation on the ground in Raleigh.

The event divided the 300 participants into teams of 10, each gathered around a map of the 15-county region. We had a box of Legos representing the new residents and jobs coming our way. Our region is expected to grow to over 3.2 million residents by 2030. We had 90 minutes to put them all somewhere on the map. Our team, like all of them, was pretty diverse, with people from each of the large cities and several of the smaller communities, and we each had our own perspective on growth issues.

Everyone immediately agreed on the need for more transportation options, including mass transit. Turns out that 80% of the teams focused on mass transit. We also wanted to concentrate jobs near residential centers – the creation of mixed-use centers was the second most common theme among the teams. We wound up putting increased residential density in the existing downtowns of most of the region's cities and towns, focusing the most intensity on the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill core.

It became abundantly clear that smart growth, mixed-use, and transit-oriented development are necessary ingredients to planning the future of the Triangle region. But these strategies pose obvious challenges for the preservation community. An extra million people are going to put even more development pressure on our already threatened rural historic sites – we need to work with them now to protect them. While downtown density can be a good thing – we need to design carefully to integrate the new with the existing urban fabric and near-downtown historic neighborhoods.

I am more convinced than ever that the historic buildings in our downtowns represent wonderful opportunities for adaptive use and that the preservation community can play an active role in smart and equitable growth. This is going to be exciting work!

-- Elizabeth Sappenfield

Elizabeth Sappenfield is the director of urban issues at Preservation North Carolina.

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.