Author Archive

Inaugural Parade: Joseph McGill Is Suited Up and Ready to March

Posted on: January 14th, 2009 by Jason Clement

 

The Trust's Joseph McGill is ready to represent the brave men of the 54th in the inaugural parade.

The National Trust's very own Joseph McGill is ready to represent the brave men of the 54th in the inaugural parade.

Meet Joseph McGill. Most days you'll find him hard at work at the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Southern Regional Office, where he is a program officer. Other days, you'll find him suited up - musket and all - on the battlefield.

Joseph is a Civil War reenactor who marches with a Charleston-based group dedicated to keeping the amazing story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry alive today. If you've seen the movie "Glory," then you know that the 54th were African American troops who fought for the Union during the war, waging an infamous battle on Morris Island at the mouth of Charleston Harbor.

However, come next Tuesday, Joseph will be representing the 54th in a whole new location: Pennsylvania Avenue. The Boston-based reenactors of the 54th were invited by President-Elect Barack Obama to join the inaugural parade, and Joe is still overwhelmed at the news that he will be able to join them.

In anticipation of the big day, we had a chance to chat with him about the significance of the parade - both for him and for the original members of the 54th.

PreservationNation: How long have you been doing Civil War reenactments, and what made you want to get involved in the first place?

I have been a Civil War reenactor since 1991. As a park ranger at Fort Sumter National Monument, I made friends with several Confederate Civil War reenactors. That, along with the award-winning movie"Glory," helped convince me that African Americans had a say in the outcome of the Civil War. I became a Civil War reenactor because it allows me the opportunity to interpret the rest of the story - the part that is usually left out of the history books.

PreservationNation: What is one behind-the-scenes aspect of reenactments that people might not know about?

There are many behind-the-scenes aspects of reenactments that people might not know. One such aspect is the amount of research that it takes to become a reenactor. Reenactors should study both sides of the conflict. Reenactors should know what motivated the northern and southern soldiers to participate in the war. Reenactors should also know how to conduct themselves in formations on the march or on the field of battle. Safety is always important.

PreservationNation: Did you ever think that a hobby would one day land you on Pennsylvania Avenue escorting our first African-American president to the White House?

No, when I started this hobby in 1991, I never thought it would earn me the opportunity to participate in the inaugural parade of the first African-American president. Heck, I never thought that I would see an African-American president in my life. I was satisfied with disseminating the history of the approximately 200,000 African Americans who joined the Union Army and the Navy, but participating in the inaugural parade was an offer I could not refuse.

PreservationNation: Tell us more about the significance of President-Elect Obama choosing reenactors of the 54th to march in the parade.

I think that it was destiny that we were chosen to participate in the inaugural parade. President-Elect Obama is a fan of President Abraham Lincoln. It was President Lincoln who gave the 54th the opportunity to serve the Union during the Civil War.

PreservationNation: If the men of the 54th were alive today, what do you think they would have say about what will happen on January 20th?

If the men of the 54th could speak to us, they would say job well done. They would look at January 20th as a stamp of approval for why they served. They would say that, just as we encountered tremendous odds, so did President-Elect Obama. They would go on to say that the fight is not over, and that we will face the challenges as a unified nation - not a divided one.

PreservationNation: The Trust has put together an inaugural guide of historic places and neighborhoods people can visit while they are in D.C. for the inauguration. Other than the sights and sounds of the parade, what else are you looking forward to seeing in Washington?

The Lincoln Memorial is on my short list of places to visit. It will take on a special meaning this trip. I will also be travelling with my wife, Vilarin, and my 11 year-old daughter, Jocelyn. I am certain that Jocelyn will want to share her experience with anyone willing to listen.

Visit the National Trust for Historic Preservation's special inaugural guide to learn more about everything the D.C. area has to offer visitors over the coming days.

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.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.

Meet This Week's Faces in Preservation

Posted on: January 6th, 2009 by Jason Clement

 

This week, Faces in Preservation is back with a look at preservation movers and shakers who are leading by example through innovative stewardship and funding programs.

Jerome “PopAgee” Johnson
He's a self-professed "soldier of jazz," and he's leading a movement to restore the New Orleans landmarks where Buddy Bolden, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong got their start. His name is Jerome "PopAgee" Johnson, and with the help of Save America's Treasures, he is going save America's music. >> Read More

Noël Strattan & Ira Beckerman
Noël Strattan and Ira Beckerman are two archaeologists whose mission to change the way Pennsylvania catalogues its historic and cultural resources has evolved into an innovative national model for Section 106 done right. >> Read More

Intended to supplement our policy platform for President-Elect Barack Obama, Faces in Preservation is a weekly showcase of preservationists who are amazing examples of the kind of work we are hoping to see more of in the future. Stay tuned as we continue to explore new fields and new faces in the days leading up to the Inauguration.

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.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.

 

This week is what I refer to annually as the Week of Lists.

From magazines to the Internet, the outgoing year is relived in every imaginable category. In addition to Time's People of the Year, I've read about 2008's highest-grossing movies, most outrageous Hollywood moments (a perennial favorite of mine), biggest YouTube videos, top-earning business tycoons, most memorable campaign gaffes, hottest food trends, most prolific buzzwords (change!) and best television advertisements.

Talk about a whole lot of nothing, huh?

Today, as we make big plans to celebrate an even bigger night, there are residents in Lower Mid-City New Orleans who are making the kind of plans most of us will never be faced with in our lifetimes: where am I going to go if my house gets demolished?

While the fate of this historic neighborhood is still painfully unclear, we wanted to use today to look back at 2008 as a year that saw the residents of Lower Mid-City - and their many advocates from New Orleans to Washington, D.C. - come together to fight for what's fair, right and responsible. So, in between reading about the year's biggest breakups and worst-dressed A-listers, please take a moment to read our special year-end list, What We Would Miss About Lower Mid-City.

Unlike the others, it won't rot your brain, but touch your heart. And when you're done, consider taking a moment to make a difference by telling a friend about our Mid-City website, sending a letter or posting a video on Facebook.

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.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.

Meet This Week's Faces in Preservation

Posted on: December 23rd, 2008 by Jason Clement

 

This week, Faces in Preservation is back with a look at preservation movers and shakers who are leading by example through innovative transportation programs and policies.

Arlyne Reichert
She's known as the "Bridge Lady" on the streets of her hometown and in the country's leading circles of preservationists and historians. Read how Arlyne Reichert's love for the Historic 10th Street Bridge in Great Falls, Montana, has not only made her famous, but evolved into a model case study about the intersection of preservation and transportation policy. >> Read More

Joe Morris
As director of city planning for Salisbury, North Carolina, Joe Morris knows firsthand how transportation enhancements funds can spark the transformation of an entire neighborhood. From a historic train depot to a newly refurbished entertainment district, Morris has used federal transportation grants to enhance the quality of life for Salisbury’s 30,000 residents. >> Read More

Rose Rohr
Adaptive reuse definitely comes with its fair share of challenges, but what happens when the project calls for refurbishing and then airlifting a century-old bridge to a new home that is some 15 miles upstream from its original location? If it sounds impossible, you haven't been to Hale, Iowa, or heard Rose Rohr's story. >> Read More

Intended to supplement our policy platform for President-Elect Barack Obama, Faces in Preservation is a weekly showcase of preservationists who are amazing examples of the kind of work we are hoping to see more of in the future. Stay tuned as we continue to explore new fields and new faces in the days leading up to the Inauguration.

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.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.

A Preservation Newbie's Walk Through Mid-City New Orleans

Posted on: December 23rd, 2008 by Jason Clement

 

I have a confession to make: I'm a preservation newbie.

That's right; I'm not an architect, an archeologist, an urban planner or a historian. I don't totally understand tax credits (yet!) or Section 106 (workin' on it!). And unless time logged vegging out in front of HGTV counts, I've also never restored original moulding or weatherized a window.

I am, in all honesty, a twenty-six-year-old writer turned web geek who simply tends to follow his heart a lot. Three months ago, it led me to my first day at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and just one week ago, it led me to Palmyra Street in New Orleans.

A Louisiana native, I was home mainly to see family, though I knew I would have a few hours of downtime between eating and eating again (it's what us Cajuns do best). Now, if you've ever been to New Orleans, you know firsthand how a "few hours of downtime" can lead you in so many very interesting directions. I won't elaborate, but let me say that this trip was no exception: I found myself walking the streets of Mid-City, a place that's seemingly worlds away from the French Quarter and a neighborhood that I had previously never been to.

Since starting at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, I had heard a lot about Charity Hospital and the surrounding area. I had read reports, looked at photos and worked on projects supporting our work. None of it, however, prepared me for what I felt on foot as my first-timer curiosity slowly turned into unabated anger. I saw Christmas lights, "I'm Home!" signs, toys in yards, fresh paint jobs, and new and ongoing restoration projects. And the more I looked around and saw these things, the more I realized what I was really witnessing: people making the most out of a life in which nonnegotiable decisions about what stays and what goes are ultimately being made in boardrooms.

As a newbie, I still don't completely understand the "how" or the "why" of the Mid-City story. I just know that my heart wants to go back and do more because the people I saw there might be ringing in the new year by watching their homes get torn down. To me, that chilling mental image is stronger than any talking point, any report and any study.

So, at a time when it seems like none of the decision makers are, I want to ask everyone here to please think with your heart. I invite you to follow me on my walking tour of Mid-City and then encourage you to tell a friend about our Mid-City website, send a letter or post a video on Facebook.

We don't have a lot of time, but even a newbie knows that there is still work that can be done - even if it is just with a mouse.

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.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.