Author Archive

 

Dekalb's Egyptian Theatre in 1938 and restored. Credit: Egyptian Theatre
(l.) Dekalb's Egyptian Theatre in 1938; (r.) its restored facade today.

For decades, when the people of DeKalb, Ill., have spent an evening out at the movies, or attended a concert or other event, they’ve done so under the watchful eye of Ramses II.

The Egyptian pharaoh, who reigned from 1279 to 1213 BC, served as inspiration to architect Elmer F. Behrns when he designed the northern Illinois community’s downtown landmark, the historic Egyptian Theatre, in 1929. Behrns channeled the ancient ruler as he envisioned a temple-like entrance flanked by two pharaoh sculptures, an elaborate sacred scarab beetle-centered stained glass window, and a colorful tiled lobby floor.

At the time, Egyptian architecture was a nationwide craze set off by the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922. Today, DeKalb’s Egyptian is one of few left standing. But standing it is, and even 84 years after it was built, the regal structure is still drawing loyal crowds.... 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.

 

Bedford Springs Resort & Spa in 1930. Photo courtesy Mary Dorner
Bedford Springs Resort & Spa in 1930

When we spoke to George Takei for Preservation magazine’s winter issue, the actor shared his own harrowing experience of being interned in an Arkansas camp with his family and other Japanese-Americans during WWII. The article, along with an online follow-up about the courageous Japanese-American soldiers of the 442nd regimental unit, drew the attention of Mary Dorner, executive assistant at the historic Bedford Springs Resort & Spa in Bedford, Pa., who reached out to share the hotel’s own little-known connection to the same tense period in American history.

Already historic in its own right -- from having been visited by 11 U.S. presidents to its lobby being on the receiving end of the first transatlantic cable in 1858 -- the National Historic Landmark (now owned in part by Omni Hotels & Resorts, and one of our Historic Hotels of America) was also the surprising site of containment for nearly 200 Japanese diplomats, embassy staff, and their families in 1945.... 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.

Stories from the Sea: A WWII Battleship Gets a Historic Blog

Posted on: March 6th, 2013 by Gwendolyn Purdom 4 Comments

 

Reflection. Credit: Battleship North Carolina
Battleship North Carolina

In its years at sea, the USS North Carolina held more than 2,300 aboard at one time; was the first of ten fast battleships to join the American fleet in World War II; and participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific area of operations, earning 15 battle stars. When the battleship was set to be scrapped in 1958, a group of citizens banded together to save the vessel and bring her back to her home state.

Five decades later, the ship’s storied history is getting a different form of preservation through Sea Stories, the Battleship North Carolina’s new blog. Launched on January 24, the web series posts actual firsthand accounts of life on the ship, which now serves as a WWII memorial and museum, each week.

We caught up with Battleship Promotions Director Heather Loftin to find out more about the unique project.... 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.

 

Building wall of broken concrete road paving, August 1938. Photo courtesy Blanchard Family.
Building a wall of broken concrete road paving, August 1938.

Buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places are often relics of a vastly different time, cloaked in community legend and dusty ancestral history. For Jerry Blanchard, however, the story behind the National Register-listed cluster of houses that makes up Claremont, California’s “Russian Village” isn’t even a generation removed -- he spent his earliest years there.

So when Blanchard casually mentioned that his father had built a house on the National Register to family friend and California state historian Amy Crain a few months back, the two embarked on a journey to find out more.... 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.

Cross-Examining My Family's Texas Courthouse History

Posted on: February 19th, 2013 by Gwendolyn Purdom 3 Comments

 

The author’s great-great-great-grandfather was one of the first judges at the Comal County Courthouse. Robert Bodemann is pictured in front of the courthouse (fourth from the left) the year the structure was built. Credit: Gwendolyn Purdom
The author’s great-great-great-grandfather was one of the first judges at the Comal County Courthouse. Robert Bodemann is pictured in front of the courthouse (fourth from the left) the year the structure was built.

I never met my namesake. My maternal grandmother, Gwendolyn, died when my own mother was just a girl, along with my maternal grandfather a few years later. So my understanding of where I came from, on that side of the family at least, derives almost entirely from stories I’ve been told and the mountain of yellowed records, tattered documents, and black-and-white photos my mom keeps piled in an upstairs closet as unofficial “family historian.” Those things -- and the cornerstone of the 1898 Comal County Courthouse in New Braunfels, Texas.... 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.