Author Archive

 

The c. 1829 building became known as the Trojan Hotel in 1915. Credit: Terry and Donald O'Brien
The c. 1829 building became known as the Trojan Hotel in 1915.

When Donald and Terry O’Brien were looking for a new location for O’Briens Public House, their nearly 2-year-old family-run restaurant, a 184-year-old building in downtown Troy, N.Y., caught their eyes.

“My heart was set on the building, because it has so much history,” Terry O’Brien says.

Built c. 1829, the building on Third Street served variously as a stable and livery, bar, hotel, photography unit, and residence (most notably for the Reverend William Irvin, a prominent local resident). From 1897, it served as the Windsor Café and was converted to the Windsor Hotel in 1896.

But it is best known for its years operating as the Trojan Hotel, a name it took on in 1915.... 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.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.

[Interview] Former First Lady Laura Bush's Vision for Historic Preservation

Posted on: September 30th, 2013 by Lauren Walser

 

Laura W. Bush, former First Lady. Credit: George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
Laura W. Bush, former First Lady

When I spoke with Laura Bush for the Fall 2013 issue of Preservation, she told us quite a lot about her lifelong interest in history and her commitment to preserving America’s historic sites as First Lady of Texas and later during her eight years in the White House.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t include it all in the space we had -- but we also couldn’t deny our readers from learning all she had to share. So we’ve included an expanded version of our interview here, for your reading pleasure.... 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.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.

See the Unseen: Amazing 3-D Views of Historic Churches and Theaters

Posted on: September 26th, 2013 by Lauren Walser 2 Comments

 

Reconstructed Chapter House. Vina, California. (2013)

For the past two years, San Francisco-based designer Scott Page has been taking his 11-lb. 3-D laser scanner into historic churches and theaters all around the Bay Area, including Bernard Maybeck’s First Church of Christ, Scientist in Berkeley and the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, collecting point clouds of data and photographic images to quickly and accurately map every detail of a building’s interior, down to each visible beam and pipe.

“[Scanning] allows you to visualize buildings in ways you couldn’t see them before,” Page says. “You can really get to places where you couldn’t before, even just five years ago.”... 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.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.

 

(l.) Unisphere from the 1964 World's Fair; (r.) Cover of Tomorrow-Land. Photos courtesy TAPorto, Flickr; Lyons Press.
(l.) Unisphere from the 1964 World's Fair; (r.) Cover of Tomorrow-Land.

The theme of the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York was “Peace Through Understanding.” But as Joseph Tirella demonstrates in his forthcoming book, Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World’s Fair and the Transformation of America (Lyons Press), the fair’s preparations -- and the United States, in general -- were anything but peaceful in turbulent 1960s America.

Tirella, a widely published journalist who has covered Queens, N.Y., for the New York Times’ City section, follows New York’s fair from its earliest days as a seed of an idea to 18 months after the last visitor left the fairgrounds and the land was rechristened Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

With great detail, he tells the story of powerful Robert Moses, New York’s “Master Builder” who used any number of tricks and tactics to create the fair he envisioned -- even when it became clear to the public that the fair was a financial disaster. He lays bare the political landscape of New York and all its major players, as well as all the negotiations and in-fighting that took place during the years leading up to the fair’s opening.

And Tirella takes readers past these planning stages to the opening day of the fair, when the pavilions were largely panned by architecture critics and the number of actual visitors fell far short of expectations.

1964 World's Fair Pavilion. Photo courtesy: Bill Cotter, www.worldsfairphotos.com
1964 World's Fair Pavilion

But understanding the 1964-65 fair and what led to its disappointing outcome, Tirella argues, requires an examination beyond the fair itself. It requires a closer look at America in the ‘60s. After all, fairs had always been a celebration of cultures, nations, and ideas, with an eye to the excitement of the future. Why was this fair not greeted with the same enthusiasm?

To answer that, Tirella presents an impressive historic overview of the decade, spanning popular music trends, the political climate, Civil Rights efforts, and the rise in urban crime. He surveys the major players of the decade -- the Beatles, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Andy Warhol, for starters -- and the major events -- like the Harlem Riots, New York City’s crackdown on downtown bohemians and artists, and the Vietnam War -- to show that the world was changing in ways that no longer fit with the common ethos of the fairs of the past.

Tomorrow-Land will hit bookshelves in January 2014, just months before the 50th anniversary of the opening of the New York World’s Fair.

Until then, you can read more about the fair, and the current state of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, in the Fall 2013 issue of Preservation magazine.

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.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.

Imaginations Lift Off at Los Arboles "Rocketship" Park

Posted on: September 12th, 2013 by Lauren Walser 4 Comments

 

The Rocketship Park. Credit: Neil Klemer, Flickr.
The Rocketship Park in Torrance, California.

For generations of children who have grown up in Torrance, Calif., traveling to outer space was as easy as visiting Los Arboles “Rocketship” Park.

The highlight of the 6.3-acre park, completed in the 1960s, has long been the 28-foot-tall rocket ship play structure, purchased from a catalog of playground equipment shortly after a local developer donated the land for the park to the city.

On any given day for the last five decades, park visitors would see children scaling the ladder inside the ship from one level to the next and careening down the metal slide on the outside of the structure.

“Kids feel like they’re blasting off into space,” says Janet Payne, a vice president with Torrance Historical Society.... 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.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.