Author Archive

This Treasure Matters: Celebrating the Art of Living at The Mount

Posted on: March 25th, 2010 by Jason Clement

 

“True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision.”

Those are the words of Edith Wharton, and did she have vision.

The Mount before its five-year restoration.

Wharton’s name might ring a bell from your high school days when you studied staples like The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome, and The Age of Innocence – three of the 40 books she penned in 40 years. What you might not know about this extraordinary legend is that her resume also includes a Pulitzer Prize (the first for a woman), the French Legion of Honor (she was a front-lines hero in World War I), and bragging rights as the visionary who invented the profession of interior design (her best-selling Decoration of Houses is still consider a “bible” within the field).

However, Edith didn’t just have vision when it came to her amazing career; her home in Lenox, MA is a three-dimensional expression of her creative genius. Wharton built The Mount in 1902 based on the principles outlined in her influential guide to interior design. Balance, symmetry, suitability – that’s what she valued, and that is what is reflected in the estate’s classic architecture and lush formal gardens.

Edith’s vision realized.

After Edith’s death in 1937, her legacy lived strong in the fields of writing and design, but her home suffered through the years and over the course of several changes in ownership. By 1998, when First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton was making her first-ever tour of Save America’s Treasures historic sites, the situation at Wharton’s estate was dire.

Luckily, the newly-established Save America’s Treasures program had a vision for The Mount. The site was awarded a $2.8 million Save America’s Treasures federal challenge grant in 1999, which was met with over $240,000 in private contributions. The property was also selected from hundreds of Save America’s Treasures projects for Restore America – a national media partnership with HGTV. When all was said and done, this Save America’s Treasures project employed over 100 local contractors, with the total economic impact over the course of the five-year restoration equaling a staggering $14 million.

Today, creative programming at the immaculately-restored estate reflects Wharton's pioneering interests in literary arts, interior design, landscaping, and the art of living.

Edith’s vision – and this amazing cultural treasure – are alive and well.

Save America's Treasures, Preserve America, and the other programs cut or underfunded by the proposed federal budget do more than preserve our country's rich heritage – they put Americans to work. Learn more about the National Trust's campaign to restore this critical funding.

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.

 

Thanks to Save America's Treasures, the Homestead is where visitors today can go inside Emily Dickinson's world.

It is easy to think of poets as simply professional people-watchers – incredibly articulate talents who can capture a moment – a feeling – out of thin air and immortalize it on paper in such a way that it can be relived by complete strangers.

However, for one of America’s greatest and most prolific in the craft, understanding and explaining the profound complexity of human emotion did not come from being a tortured lover or an all-around astute observer; it came from a life lived in loneliness and isolation.

Poems without titles; unconventional style and punctuation; recurring themes of death and immortality – this is Emily Dickinson.

Dickinson was born in 1830 at a home in Amherst, Massachusetts known as the Homestead. Introverted and reclusive even in her early years, it is here where she would spend the majority of her life – and where her creativity would flourish. Many of those who study her believe that her quarantine gave her an opportunity to step back and understand the human experience like none before her had. She passed away in 1886, leaving behind 1,800 poems that continue to push the poetic envelope today.

Quite simply, Emily’s story could not be told without her home. Save America’s Treasures realized this, granting $200,000 in 2004 towards the creation of a master plan that would link and preserve the Homestead and the Evergreens (a neighboring home where members of the Dickson family also lived). The federal grant was matched by more than $500,000 in private funds, which ultimately addressed critical exterior restorations and mechanical systems upgrades.

In 2009, some 13,000 tourists and Dickinson enthusiasts visited the homes, known collectively as the Emily Dickinson Museum. According to the site’s executive director, the rising visitation numbers have had a multiplying effect on the local economy of Amherst, drawing thousands of curious visitors into the town where Emily was once known only as an eccentric woman of mystery.

Save America's Treasures, Preserve America, and the other programs cut or underfunded by the proposed federal budget do more than preserve our country's rich heritage – they put Americans to work. Learn more about the National Trust's campaign to restore this critical funding.

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.

Welcome to Make-a-Difference Mondays

Posted on: March 15th, 2010 by Jason Clement 1 Comment

 

Welcome to your week.

It’s a simple fact of life – bad Mondays happen to good people. Just ask the Bangles. Remember "Manic Monday?"

Unlike Sunday, which may or may not be your funday, Monday is definitely a you-have-to-run day. Alarm clocks fail, wallets/keys/glasses/purses/shoes disappear, umbrellas implode, traffic crawls, and coffee spills. Buses and trains traveling in your desired direction are simply nonexistent, and wardrobe malfunctions are 99.9% more likely to occur. And, if you manage to make it out the house with two socks that match, it’s a given that one will have a big-toe size hole that will taunt you all day long.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot we can do to shield ourselves from Mondays and the onslaught of frustrations, setbacks, embarrassments, inconveniences, technical difficulties, and all out disappointments that they bring. However, there is something you can do right now to soften the blow of that coffee stain on your shirt.

You may have already heard, but the National Trust for Historic Preservation is one of 49 non-profits vying for a $200,000 prize through American Express’ latest Members Project, TakePart. At the end of a three-month cycle that is already underway, a grant will be awarded to the charity that garners the most votes in its category. We think this money could go a long way in helping us save places that matter, but we need your help to make it happen.

Supporters can vote once a week, and you don’t have to have an American Express card in your wallet to do so. Honestly, what could be better on a manic Monday than the simple satisfaction of taking a few seconds to make a real difference? It’s not a cure all, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Like the places we preserve, your vote matters. We hope you’ll take a few moments out of your Monday (today and the eleven that follow through the month of May) to support the National Trust. If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, we'll give you both a reminder and a good reason to cast your vote each week.

Oh, and remember – you can blame it on the train, but the boss is already there. Sigh.

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 Treasure Matters: Taking a Walk With “Little Women”

Posted on: March 10th, 2010 by Jason Clement

 

Summer at Orchard House.

You’d be hard pressed to find a young girl who does not know Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.

Don’t worry; we’re not talking about some new pop phenomenon or even Dancing with the Stars; we’re talking about four sisters – four little women – that seem to have a permanent place in the lives of American adolescents.

It’s true – whether on screen or on paper, Little Women lives on today. And, thanks to Save America’s Treasures, so does Orchard House – the historic home in Concord, MA where Louisa May Alcott, the author of the beloved series, lived and wrote this story that transcends generations.

In 2000, Alcott’s Orchard House received a $400,000 federal Save America’s Treasures challenge grant, which was met with an additional $150,000 in private contributions. This much-needed funding addressed a variety of structural damages and abnormalities that had come to plague the iconic home where Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy came to life. And the restoration didn’t just save a place that our country simply couldn’t stand to lose – it created 31 local and regional jobs for individuals within 14 different trades and professions.

Today, the proof is in the eyes of the thousands of visitors who come to walk through the home where Little Women came to be – this treasure matters, and this program works.

Save America's Treasures, Preserve America, and the other programs cut or underfunded by the proposed federal budget do more than preserve our country's rich heritage – they put Americans to work. Learn more about the National Trust's campaign to restore this critical funding.

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 Christmas Miracle for an 11 Most Save

Posted on: December 28th, 2009 by Jason Clement

 

The newly-restored exterior of Mission San Miguel Arcangel.

The newly-restored exterior of Mission San Miguel Arcangel.

Six years ago, a 6.5-magnitude earthquake rocked central California just days before Christmas. While hundreds of buildings were rattled and ravaged, the extensive damaged done to one historic site was especially heartbreaking.

The 16th of California’s 21 famed missions, Mission San Miguel Arcangel housed the state’s only surviving example of original Spanish Colonial artwork. The elaborate murals were painted in 1821 by local Salinan Indians under the direction of Esteban Munras, a Spanish amateur painter who ran a trading business in nearby Monterey. The quake not only put their integrity in jeopardy, but caused millions of dollars in structural damage to the five-foot-thick adobe walls that they covered.

As the dust settled, the future looked bleak to parishioners struggling to protect their church from permanent closure. The landmark was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2006 listing of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, and in October of this year, good news finally came; after a $10 million seismic retrofit, Mission San Miguel reopened – threatened Munras murals preserved.

And with the holidays, this story gets even sweeter. Amidst all the seasonal news clutter chronicling hectic air travel and no-holds-barred mall parking lots, a heartwarming story appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Christmas Day reporting that, for the first time in six years, Mission San Miguel parishioners would celebrate the holidays in their historic church.

Here’s just one highlight from the piece:

'It's like a rebirth,' said Reimi Campomenosi, a parish member who was alone in the church watering the Christmas trees when the quake hit that Dec. 22. 'The roof was lifted up and debris came raining down. Afterward, I turned off the gas and electricity, and went around blowing out the candles.' Last week, choir director Campomenosi played the church organ at a Sunday Mass – the first time she'd sat down at the instrument, which had been damaged, in six years. Services in the church resumed only a couple of months ago. Until then, a dwindling band of parishioners would worship in the local senior center, in a cramped museum room or outdoors, on blankets and under umbrellas.

You can catch the full text of the article online to learn more about Mission San Miguel and its successful preservation. Also, be sure to visit PreservationNation.org to learn more about America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places – a program that has identified more than 200 threatened historic treasures since 1988, and that is currently accepting nominations for 2010.

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.