Author Archive

DC's Historic Howard Theatre Reopens After Major Restoration

Posted on: April 12th, 2012 by Gwendolyn Purdom 2 Comments


George Clinton surveyed the crowd Tuesday night and let out a soulful sigh: “Boy, do I have memories in this joint!” The legendary purveyor of funk, looking notably tidier sans his equally legendary Technicolor dreadlocks, took the Howard Theatre stage at the historic venue’s VIP grand opening concert and celebration following a $29 million renovation.

And Clinton wasn’t the only one looking spiffed up at the event: Dating back to 1910, the traditionally African American performance space that sat vacant and decaying for decades in Washington, DC’s Shaw neighborhood now shines anew, its stucco exterior façade brought back to its 1910 appearance; its cavernous interior modernized with gleaming wood surfaces, intimate booths, and jumbo screens flashing images of vintage programs for Howard performances featuring Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington.

Stripped of its detailing, this is how the Howard Theatre looked for many years before its recent restoration. (Photo: NCinDC on Flickr)

It’s an intimidating set of footsteps to follow for any performer. The Howard, billed as "the largest colored theater in the world” when it opened, hosted everyone from Booker T. Washington to Marvin Gaye until it closed its doors in the early 1980s. With an article looking at the restoration of the Howard and other historic black theaters across the country scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of Preservation magazine, we were especially excited to attend Tuesday night’s performance. ... 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.

A New Chapter for a Preservation Classic

Posted on: March 27th, 2012 by Gwendolyn Purdom


"That Little House looks just like the Little House my grandmother lived in when she was a little girl," the woman says, "only that Little House was way out in the country on a hill covered with daisies and apple trees growing around."

It was a simple story: A countryside cottage, once a bustling family home, fades into the background as the big city springs up around it. Dwarfed by skyscrapers, the boarded-up Little House in Virginia Lee Burton’s classic children’s picture book is saved only when the original owner’s great-great-granddaughter buys the property and restores it to its former glory on another idyllic hillside. [Editor's note: Of course, if would have been nice to see the house restored in its original location. But hey, we're not trying to change the story...]

The special 70th anniversary cover. (Image: Houghton Mifflin Books)

The 1943 Caldecott Medal winner itself will find new life this spring as its publisher celebrates the 70th anniversary of the beloved preservation tale with a special edition.

"Not only does the Little House in the story remain sturdy, resilient, and unmoved through the changes that time ushers in, but it showcases the power of storytelling and a truly classic story," says Mary Wilcox, the new edition’s editor, and vice president and editorial director at Houghton Mifflin Books for Children and HMH Books. "Seventy years later, The Little House remains in print and we continue to celebrate its staying power."

With an included audio CD and new introduction by Burton’s son, sculptor Aris Demetrios, The Little House 70th anniversary edition hit shelves in April.

Look for this and other great content in the Spring issue of Preservation magazine. Subscribe today!

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.

Interview: Talking Shop with Actor/Home Renovator Bronson Pinchot

Posted on: March 23rd, 2012 by Gwendolyn Purdom 1 Comment


Long before he started turning up as memorable Hollywood characters like Serge in Beverly Hills Cop, or Balki Bartokomous on the 80s sitcom Perfect Strangers, actor Bronson Pinchot was honing a very different kind of craft: historic restoration. As a child, Pinchot fixed up an old shed behind his 1920s house in South Pasadena, California.

Bronson Pinchot working to restore a bust inside one of his Hartford, Penn. projects. (Photo: DIY Network)

“I remember being eight and looking at worn surfaces and things that weren’t plumb and level and thinking how wonderful a secret they were and how it was a secret between them and me that they had survived and I was going to leave them the way they were,” Pinchot says.

This year Pinchot was cast in the role he says he was born to play in DIY Network’s The Bronson Pinchot Project, which follows the actor and his loyal team of craftsmen as they refurbish historic properties in rural Harford, Pennsylvania. The show’s first season wraps up March 31st.

We caught up with Pinchot while he was making one of his frequent trips to the salvage yard. ... 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.