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My Historic Washington: Anacostia

Posted on: January 16th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 4 Comments

 

Greetings From Anacostia: Our Postcard View of the Capitol and the National Mall

I have lived in the D.C. area for over eight years, but I am still a newbie to Anacostia.

If you are at all familiar with the District and its many neighborhoods, you probably know that a raised eyebrow and a look of disbelief is a common reaction when you hear someone say, "I just moved to Anacostia." However, as someone new to the area, I am proud to report that those reactions are finally changing. Now I get, "Oh, really great things are happening there," or "Good for you, very smart investment."

It would be dishonest of me to pretend like these promising predictions did not factor into my decision-making process before purchasing a home here with my partner. But truth be told, there are many great reasons to consider making Anacostia your home or at least a stop on your tour of Washington. Here are just four of them:

  1. The View: Most of Anacostia is situated on high ground, affording us some of the best views of Washington. In fact, the photo above was taken on my own roof-top deck.
  2. The Neighborhood: My neighbors - young and old - always look me in the eye as I walk to the Metro and take a moment to say "hello" or "good morning." That's not something you get in other neighborhoods.
  3. The Green Space: Anacostia is full of parkland, bike trails and recreation areas.
  4. The Sense of Place: There is a sense here of being a part of history as it is taking place, a progression of positive growth and renewal for a historic community. Check out our riverfront project at Poplar Point to see for yourself.

So, if you are like many of my D.C. friends who comment that they haven’t been to Anacostia since they took that "wrong turn a few years ago," please consider taking another look. We have a blossoming Main Street program, the historic Fredrick Douglass House, the Honfleur Art Gallery (a project of ARCH, a community-based non-profit in Anacostia) and the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum.

I am proud to call Anacostia home because I am part of a neighborhood that is looking to the future for the positive, sustainable growth that will give our overlooked gem its chance to shine.

– Lisa Turgeon-Williams

Lisa Turgeon-Williams is the manager of product development for National Trust Tours. Stay tuned leading up to the inauguration as more National Trust staffers share their stories about the greater D.C. area. Coming to town for the historic event? Be sure to visit our new Preservationist’s Guide to Washington.

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Lincoln Sculpture Model is En Route to Washington

Posted on: January 16th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Two of the models of Lincoln sculpted by Daniel Chester French. The larger of the two will be on loan to the National Gallery of Art.

Two of the models of Lincoln sculpted by Daniel Chester French. The larger of the two will be on loan to the National Gallery of Art.

Take out a five dollar bill and you’ll see one of the most iconic buildings in America depicted on the back: the Lincoln Memorial. Each year, more than four million visitors make the pilgrimage to the Memorial in Washington, DC, walking along the reflecting pool and up a great flight of stairs into an immense temple. There, they confront an enormous seated marble figure who radiates dignity and wisdom. Now this is a place that matters.

For the 200th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, the National Gallery of Art will open a special exhibit on this building on February 12. Designing the Lincoln Memorial: Daniel Chester French and Henry Bacon will explore the making of the statue and the Memorial, the careers of sculptor Daniel Chester French and architect Henry Bacon, and the role the Lincoln Memorial has played in American life. On loan from Chesterwood, a National Trust Historic Site owned and operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will be the six-foot high plaster final model of the statue. This is only the second time this model has been allowed to travel from the site. Even though it comes apart in seven pieces, it’s still big and fragile so a special crew from the National Gallery of Art will crate and transport the sculpture from Massachusetts to Washington, DC. Along with this exhibit, the enormous gilt Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-fourth Regiment by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (French’s contemporary) and the American paintings galleries are returning to public view after nearly two years of renovations. (Read the full release on the loan of the sculpture.)

This year will be a great one to visit Washington, DC, but do visit Chesterwood in western Massachusetts during the summer. Daniel Chester French chose the site for the views and it continues to be a very special place, especially in combination with his home and studio filled with his sculpture, a contemporary sculpture show on the grounds, formal gardens, and woodlands. The place has hardly changed—the road in front is still unpaved!

Here are my suggestions for a nice long weekend in Stockbridge, Massachusetts: visit Chesterwood, the Norman Rockwell Museum, and Naumkeag to get your fill of art and architecture; walk around downtown to enjoy an historic Main Street (Lightworks Arts and Crafts Gallery is topnotch, the First Congregational Church is wonderfully rustic, and the stone horse trough that survives is charming); and finally have a great dinner at the Red Lion Inn (and a good place to stay as well: it’s a Historic Hotel of America). If you’re a food lover, look for Berkshire Blue cheese at a local market—it’s among the best I’ve tasted.

-- Max van Balgooy

Max van Balgooy is the director of interpretation and education for National Trust Historic Sites.

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Tonight, in Birmingham: Preservation Solutions for Prince Hall Grand Lodge Masonic Temple

Posted on: January 16th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Prince Hall Grand Lodge Masonic Temple

Prince Hall Grand Lodge Masonic Temple

Another Preservation Leadership Training comes to an end. This past week has been incredible and Birmingham has been a wonderful host. We have seen the magnificence of Vulcan, and the somber in Kelly Ingram Park. Most of all our participants have worked long and hard to produce solutions for the Prince Hall Grand Lodge Masonic Temple which is located in the 4th Avenue Historic District. Don't forget come to our public presentations at Prince Hall Grand Lodge at 5:30pm today.

On Thursday Donovan Rypkema of Place Economics and David Flemming of Main Street Birmingham did an interview with the local Fox News Station, click here to view that video and to catch a glimpse of the Masonic Temple.

- Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya is the program assistant for training & online services in the Center for Preservation Leadership.

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Three Thousand Miles from my Napa Valley Home

Posted on: January 15th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Three thousand miles from my Napa Valley hometown, I have landed in the city of Birmingham, Alabama. Like thirty five other country-wide preservation leadership participants, we have all come to learn more, network a bit and for some of us, begin to better understand the extraordinary civil rights history to be found in this city. To that, history may be seen and felt from the wrenching events that took place but 48 years ago.

Barbeque from Dreamland.

Barbeque from Dreamland.

For me though, a micro fruit farmer and culinary focused Californian, my attention is also food-focused. On this trip that attention will focus on the culinary traditions of the deep south, truly a unique and distinguishable cultural pathway. So what do regional food traditions have to do with preservation?
On a historical basis, we saw civilizations evolving, dominating and being defined based upon natural resource availability. Agriculture was king, eating was (and is) fundamental. It is the ghost of those past landscapes, economies and food resources that have come to define the food traditions that we now rely upon, that we seek out on a daily subconscious basis.

Fresh, juicy pig lips.

Fresh, juicy pig lips.

In the south, you see the legacy and evolution of African-American food traditions: b-b-que, greens, fried chicken, lots of pork, stews, preserved meats and vegetables and unique gravies. This legacy has defined the African American southern food tradition; a reflection of place, experience and history. These traditions have been brought forward as the new wave of Birmingham cooking manifests itself in hip restaurants that bring elements of old, new and fresh all together.

Macaroni and cheese and pulled pork sandwiches at Dreamland.

Macaroni and cheese and pulled pork sandwiches at Dreamland.

I have seen these most delicious plates of living history, from pulled pork sandwiches with macaroni and cheese to ribs, trigger fish with turnips, coconut cake and peanut butter ice cream using local peanuts. Put simply, food can quickly tell you where you are. And if you want to understand where you are, go back 100 years and you will begin to really understand why that turnip is on your plate next to the boiled greens and chopped pork.

So if preservation has to do with celebrating, revitalizing and educating, than surely this must include realizing that the very foods we pick, eat and enjoy have a long story to tell as well. And like an endangered church, bridge or house, we can easily loose the very food traditions which so subtly but surely defined place and culture.

Yes, there is history to food. Bon appétit.

-- Wendy Ward

Wendy Ward is the director of Preservation Napa Valley, she also has an extensive background in sustainable farming and is the current owner of a micro-farm. She is a participant in this year’s Preservation Leadership Training in Birmingham, Alabama. If you are in Birmingham on Friday, January 17, 2009 please attend the public presentations which will take place at 5:30 at the Prince Hall Grand Lodge in Birmingham, Alabama. Click here to view the flier. For more information on PLT visit our website.

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

My Historic Washington: Clarendon

Posted on: January 15th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

Clarendon from the corner of Wilson and Washington Boulevards.

To many, Clarendon might not fit so nicely into that title.

First of all, it’s not in Washington. Secondly, with the amount of development that the entire Ballston–Virginia Square–Clarendon corridor has seen over the past decade, one could easily disregard the historic nature of the buildings and neighborhoods that make up the heart of Arlington. It’s true, Clarendon and the surrounding neighborhoods are young and their short history is one of constant redevelopment. In my opinion, however, it is this youth that gives the neighborhood its distinct flavor and an energy that is easily felt along its boulevards.

While no longer located in the District of Columbia, the area now known as Clarendon (much like Old Town) was once part of Alexandria, the second of two counties divided by Congress to comprise D.C. Due to the growing questions around the slave trade and its future in Washington, Alexandria County petitioned, and in 1846 was retroceded, to Virginia. By 1852, Alexandria the city was incorporated from a portion of the county bearing the same name. So, now you had the city of Alexandria in addition Alexandria County, which was mostly rural. This naturally led to some confusion, as the two were right next to each other, so eventually Alexandria County became Arlington County, taking its name from the National Cemetery located within its boundaries.

For anyone unfamiliar with Northern Virginia, Arlington is still a county, not a city, and is made up of neighborhoods that share the names of their Metro stops. Clarendon’s Metro station is just a short distance from the neighborhood’s original train stop - a trolley car station located at the present intersection of Washington and Clarendon Boulevards. Streetcars came to the area in the late 1900s, and it was around this station and the two lines that converged there that Arlington’s original downtown developed. Department stores sprung up in the 1920s, and businesses began to stretch west into the adjacent neighborhoods of Virginia Square and Ballston.

Today, the large department stores are gone, but the development has not stopped. With the arrival of the Metro in the early 1980’s, a mix of small shops, restaurants and bars began to fill the storefronts along Clarendon and Wilson Boulevards. More recently, development within Arlington has been centered on high-rise offices, apartments and luxury condos. While Clarendon is certainly no exception to this growth, it has maintained the flavor that an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants can add to a neighborhood.

If you walk down Wilson Boulevard during the warmer months, you’re likely to find sidewalk patios, spot cheerful patrons at rooftop bars, or even hear some local live music at one of our neighborhood festival days (Clarendon Day in September is the largest and the neighborhood even holds a pro-am bicycle race in the summer). The energy doesn’t cease when the weather gets cold either. Establishments like O’Sullivan’s (Irish food and sports), Iota (live music) and the Galaxy Hut (Pac Man!) are always fun and can get quite festive on any given night.

People may think of Clarendon as solely a hangout for the younger crowd, but there’s plenty to do for all ages around here - it only feels young. So if you’re visiting Arlington Cemetery for the day, saving some cash by staying at a hotel in Northern Virginia, or just looking for somewhere different to eat and have a good time, try Clarendon; it’s my historic Washington.

- Matt Ringelstetter

Matt Ringelstetter is the web team coordinator for PreservationNation.org. Stay tuned leading up to the inauguration as more National Trust staffers share their stories about the greater D.C. area. Coming to town for the historic event? Be sure to visit our new Preservationist’s Guide to Washington.

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.