Author Archive

 

(l.) Lydia Ely Hewitt, President, Wisconsin Soldiers' Home; (r.) Fanny Burling Buttrick, Vice President, Wisconsin Soldiers' Home. Photos courtesy Milwaukee County Historical Society
(l.) Lydia Ely Hewitt, President, Wisconsin Soldiers' Home; (r.) Fanny Burling Buttrick, Vice President, Wisconsin Soldiers' Home

The Milwaukee VA Soldiers Home was one of the first soldiers’ homes in the country, and the only one where it’s still possible to experience the buildings and designed landscape together in something close to their original form. The 90-acre campus has served veterans continuously since shortly after the Civil War and includes some of the oldest buildings in the entire VA system.

But this special site would not have been possible in the first place without the dedicated efforts of the West Side Soldiers' Aid Society, a group of women in Milwaukee committed to creating a place for veterans to heal and recuperate. This is their story.
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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.

 

Bishop Frederick C. James (screenshot). Credit: Tracy Hayes
Bishop Frederick C. James

How's this for a vision? "The rehabilitation [of] Howard Junior High school and its transformation from a ruin into a modern learning center for the community."

That's what Bishop Frederick C. James wants to achieve with the Rosenwald School in rural Prosperity, SC, where he attended Howard Junior High School from the first through tenth grades. As we shared with Mabel Dickey's podcast earlier this month, the Rosenwald School Building Program began in 1912 and was called the "most influential philanthropic force that came to the aid of Negroes at that time." It eventually provided seed grants for the construction of more than 5,300 buildings in 15 states, including schools, shops, and teachers' houses which were built by and for African-Americans.

The African-Methodist Episcopal Bishop (now retired) calls those the “greatest days of his life” and credits Howard Junior High with giving him his start in everything he ever attained. He counts among his friends many of the well-known civil rights activists of the 1960s and 70s along with other world leaders, including a former United States president.

Now, as Chairman of the Board for the Howard Junior High School Center project, he's leading the fight to restore this historic, humble building and make it a pillar of the community once more. In this Voices of Rosenwald Schools podcast, hear Bishop James speak firsthand about his formative years at the school -- and maybe even recite a poem or two.

Howard Junior High School. Credit: jimmywayne, flickr
Howard Junior High School

What’s your dream for the Howard Junior High building?

[My dream is] to fulfill its stated mission: “to activate and utilize the historic school as a community center for Rosenwald School appreciation with updated focus upon youth development, African American art and Culture, tutorial education, teacher and student achievement, and other forms of community uplift, accommodation, and service.”

What’s the biggest personal lesson you’ve learned through your work with the Rosenwald School?

I’ve met wonderful folks in preservation; it’s been a very special asset to my life to know and be aware of people in this business. It has kept my hopes alive, and my expectation is to finish this job in my lifetime.

If somebody came to you and said, “I want to save a Rosenwald School,” what’s the first thing you’d say to them?

I would say by all means organize and make contact with the very best possible people that you can. Don’t let anything deter you from your dream and your goal. Get as many people as you can who have that same dream. We need more people who have the ability, contacts, and commitment to the mission.

I’ve been busy [since retirement] because of two things I’m unable to do: say no to something that’s on my heart, and give up!

Listen to the full podcast:

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.

[10 on Tuesday] How to Lobby for Preservation: Ten Essential Steps

Posted on: February 19th, 2013 by Julia Rocchi

 

Casting your ballot in the voting booth may be the most fundamental of democratic acts, but talking to your elected official -- called lobbying -- is the indispensable next step. Preservationists, like every other group of citizens joined in common cause, have the prerogative and the responsibility to let members of Congress know that the legislation they enact has consequences, positive and negative, for historic preservation goals back home.

The good news is, if you’re making the case for preservation in your community and encouraging others to take action, you already are an advocate. Lobbying calls for the same communication skills, knowledge of preservation and its benefits, and concern for local communities. Other than that, no specific training or experience is required.

This toolkit offers a broad foundation on how to approach this type of advocacy on the federal, state, and local levels. Every person has the ability to be a grassroots lobbyist, and these tips will give you a good place to start.... 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.

Voices of Rosenwald Schools: Mabel Dickey Tells Mt. Zion's Story

Posted on: February 13th, 2013 by Julia Rocchi 1 Comment

 

Mabel Dickey. Credit: National Trust for Historic Preservation/Clement
Mabel Dickey

Allow us to introduce you to Mabel Dickey. She's one of countless volunteers across the country who are tirelessly working to save Rosenwald Schools in their communities and preserve a compelling piece of African-American history.

Called the "most influential philanthropic force that came to the aid of Negroes at that time," the Rosenwald School Building Program began in 1912 and eventually provided seed grants for the construction of more than 5,300 buildings in 15 states, including schools, shops, and teachers' houses which were built by and for African-Americans.

Mabel was one of the students who benefited from this forward-thinking program. She attended the Mt. Zion Rosenwald School near Florence, SC for a brief period as a young child, and retired back to Florence as a adult. Today, she continues to fundraise so the school can be restored and used by the Mt. Zion Methodist Church and the surrounding community.

As one of our Voices of Rosenwald Schools interviewees, Mabel shared her memories, experiences, and lessons learned about this special place. Hear firsthand about her journey, and learn why she's not giving up on this little schoolhouse any time soon.... 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.

Tell Us How We Can Help You Save Places!

Posted on: January 30th, 2013 by Julia Rocchi

 

Partners in Preservation NYC 2012. Credit: National Trust for Historic Preservation

If you're reading this blog post right now, chances are you like saving places as much as we do. But we want to get to know you even better. We want to know why you save places, how you save places, and -- most importantly -- how we at the National Trust can help you do it.

So we've put together a quick and easy survey to find out what you need from us. Our short-term goal? To hear from 250 folks by this Friday, February 1. Our long-term goal? To be the best resource we can be for you in your quest to protect special places in your communities.

Close to 100 of you have already rang in -- thank you! That means only 150 left to go, which is easy as pie with such a passionate group. So if you haven't responded yet, please take a few minutes to share your thoughts via our Facebook survey. (And if you haven't friended us on Facebook yet, now's the perfect time!)

Thank you in advance for telling us more about your preservation goals and dreams. It's helping us help you -- and in turn helping all the places we treasure.

P.S. If you're opting to take the survey on your mobile device, please use this direct link instead. (Smart devices make the Facebook survey hiccup.) Thanks!

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.