Author Archive

 

Credit: Chris Morris/National Trust for Historic Preservation
Charles Phoenix, left, was born to love kitschy American culture, retro places, and vintage cars. 

Who says history can’t be fun? Certainly not Charles Phoenix , a performer, humorist, chef, and author best known for exploring America’s pop cultural past and present. (And maybe as equally well known for his Thanksgiving dessert creation, the Cherpumple.)

This summer, Phoenix will explore a number of iconic retro places in California, including the Wig Wam Motel in San Bernadino -- where he held a one-night-only event in June to celebrate both the Rt. 66 landmark’s recent National Register listing and also its dedicated owners/restorers -- and the upcoming Moonlight Rollerway Jubilee in Glendale.

We caught up with Phoenix in between all these hopping events to learn what first instilled in him his love for kitsch, what places have inspired him over the years, and why he doesn’t consider himself a preservationist.
... 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.

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the associate director for digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.

[Preservation Tips & Tools] Retrofitting Historic Windows

Posted on: May 27th, 2014 by Julia Rocchi 3 Comments

 

Now that we have a beautiful, new Preservation Tips & Tools template, we're looking back at some of our most popular "10 on Tuesday" toolkits and giving them a refresh with our new look. 

Windows are the most visible, yet most commonly underappreciated, components of older and historic homes and buildings.

In addition to adding beauty and character, original windows serve a great purpose -- they connect the outside of the building to the inside and, as an integral part of the architecture, offer invaluable clues to a building's history.

Despite this value, however, historic windows often get the blame for a building’s energy loss. Most often, people jump to replace their historic windows because a) companies promise that their replacement windows will save clients time and money, and b) it’s promoted as the "green" thing to do. In fact, a thriving industry has grown around this perceived need to replace rather than restore.

A report from our Preservation Green Lab in Seattle, Saving Windows, Saving Money: Evaluating the Energy Performance of Window Retrofit and Replacement, tackles this unfortunate perception head-on. The study examines multiple ways you can retrofit (read: modify) your historic windows for better performance, and outlines each option’s energy, carbon, and cost savings across a variety of climates.

The heartening result: Retrofits for historic windows perform comparably to new replacement windows, and almost every retrofit option offers a better return on investment (at a fraction of the cost).... 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.

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the associate director for digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.

 

In The Death and Life of Great American Cities, written in 1961, Jane Jacobs observed, “Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them.”

Older, Smaller, Better: Measuring How the Character of Buildings and Blocks Influences Urban Vitality, a new report from Preservation Green Lab, validates Jacobs' long-respected, but largely untested hypothesis -- that neighborhoods containing a mix of older, smaller buildings of different ages support greater levels of positive economic and social activity than areas dominated by newer, larger buildings.

The three study cities -- San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. -- all have extensive older building stock and strong real estate markets. In this toolkit, we share the highlights from the research as well as the steps your community can take to realize similar benefits. (See the full report and methodology here.)... 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.

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the associate director for digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.

[Preservation Tips & Tools] How to Save Ugly Buildings

Posted on: April 29th, 2014 by Julia Rocchi 10 Comments

 

“It’s always easier to save a place that people consider beautiful than a place -- no matter how historically significant -- that people think is ugly.”

So writes Tom Mayes, our National Trust colleague who spent his time as a Rome Prize recipient examining why old places matter. And as any preservationist can tell you, he’s right: Styles with architectural features that challenge viewers, sites with stories that outweigh their architectural merit, and spaces with layers of grime that obscure their charms often require that, before we can get down to the hard work of saving a place, we first have to prove to a skeptical public why it should be saved.

How, then, do you persuade people to fall in love with a place that doesn’t fit the traditional mold of “beautiful?” This toolkit starts the conversation about ways to inspire love, passion, or at least understanding for the homelier places in our midst.... 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.

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the associate director for digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.

 

New name, new format ... but same helpful content! Our 10 on Tuesday series has undergone a facelift, making it easier to read and cooler to peruse. Now called Preservation Tips & Tools, this ongoing segment will continue to share the info you need to save places in your community. Enjoy -- and share!

Adapted from the article “Nine Practical Reasons to Save Old Buildings” by Jack Neely

What is historic, and worth saving, varies with the beholder, but some definition is urgent.  Simply put, “historic” means “old and worth the trouble.” It applies to a building that’s part of a community’s tangible past. And to a degree that may surprise cynics, old buildings can offer opportunities for a community’s future.

This article examines both the cultural and practical values of old buildings and looks at why preserving them is beneficial not only for a community’s culture, but also for its local economy.... 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.

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the associate director for digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.