Author Archive

Veterans Day 2008: Update on the Historic Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery

Posted on: November 11th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington Cemetery

Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington Cemetery

On this day when we honor the sacrifice of the men and women of our military, there now is hope that the authentic Tomb of the Unknowns will be restored rather than discarded and replaced -- thanks to the intervention of Congress, historic preservationists, and the American public.

Marble conservation experts agree that the monument’s cracks are cosmetic, nonstructural, and – most important – can be repaired to be virtually invisible to the millions of annual visitors to the Tomb of the Unknowns.

On November 7, 2008, Arlington National Cemetery convened a meeting, pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act, to begin planning for what Cemetery officials call the “possible repair” of the 1932 Tomb Monument. Following this meeting, the National Trust for Historic Preservation can report that:

  • Arlington National Cemetery has agreed to consider conducting the high-tech tests and analysis necessary to understand the cause of the cracks and to design the most effective restoration techniques.
  • The Cemetery has agreed to invite a blue-ribbon panel of marble conservation experts to help select the marble conservator, if the repair project moves forward.
  • If the Cemetery agrees to repair the marble monument, the conservation work likely would be conducted in late Spring or early Summer 2009.
  • Cemetery officials expressed concerns on November 7th that the repair project would disrupt the visitor’s experience of the Tomb of the Unknowns. (On the contrary, preservationists believe the repair project would present an opportunity to educate visitors about the historic significance and proper treatment of the monument.)
  • Replacement of the Tomb Monument with a replica would cost $2.2 million, while preservation-based repair would cost $65,000.
  • Finally, Arlington National Cemetery has not committed to repair the marble monument and has not abandoned the Cemetery’s long-term plan to discard and replace the authentic monument with a replica.

Government agencies participating in the November 7th meeting included the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Arlington County Historic Preservation Office, Department of Defense, Army Corps of Engineers, National Park Service, National Center for Preservation Technology & Training, and U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.

The nonprofit historic preservation community was represented by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the American Institute for Conservation.

-- Rob Nieweg

Robert Nieweg is the Director of the Southern Field Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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Learn more about our ongiong efforts to save the authentic Tomb of the Unknowns.

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.

Abraham Lincoln — and His Horse — Arrive in Washington, DC

Posted on: November 10th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Abraham Lincoln and his horse.

Abraham Lincoln and his horse arrived at President Lincoln’s Cottage today—in bronze form, that is. The 2500 pound sculpture, commissioned through the generosity of Robert H. Smith, commemorates Lincoln's bicentennial and will be dedicated in February 2009.

Lincoln and his family lived at the Cottage for one quarter of his presidency -- it was the place where Lincoln plotted Union wartime strategies, worked on the emancipation proclamation and determined to include the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in the Republican platform of 1864.

The sculpture, designed by StudioEIS in New York, took one year to create from sketches to final cast. To render an historically accurate likeness of the 16th president and his horse, StudioEIS conducted extensive research, including: examination all of the known photos of Lincoln, plus the lifecasts of his face and hands; taking measurements of his top hat and coat at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History; and, working with equine experts and photos of the president's favorite horse, "Old Bob."

Overall, the sculpture measures 84 inches tall and 88 inches long. Unlike the many formal depictions of Lincoln, this one is informal and highlights a moment at either the beginning or the end of Lincoln’s daily commute from the Cottage to the White House.

The Cottage opened to the public February 19, 2008, following a 7-year, $15 million restoration. To find out more and to reserve space on one of its multimedia, state-of-the-art tours, visit: www.lincolnscottage.org.

-Caroline Barker
-Video by Matt Ringelstetter

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.

Oil and Gas Leases Threaten Nine Mile Canyon

Posted on: November 7th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Earl Ivan White)

Truck traffic threatens prehistoric rock art in Nine Mile Canyon. (Photo: Earl Ivan White)

Late last week, media reports revealed a plan by the Bureau of Land Management to sell oil and gas leases in areas of Utah that contain some the nation’s most significant cultural resources, including ancient rock art in the Nine Mile Canyon region. The reports suggested that these potential sales are being conducted with unusual haste in an effort to complete the sales before the administration changes in January of 2009.

While fully detailed maps of the affected areas are not yet available, we have managed to get some additional information on the specific parcels that would be affected. Unfortunately, it looks like they include thousands of acres within Nine Mile Canyon, which many people call the "World’s Longest Art Gallery."

Specifically, the sale contains at least 21 parcels totaling approx. 36,000 acres that are either partially or entirely within the Nine Mile Canyon Area of Critical Environmental Concern (which covers a total of 70,368 acres). Although BLM will sell the leases with No Surface Occupancy (NSO) stipulations - which generally prohibit the lessees from constructing wells, pipelines and other types of oil and gas infrastructure within the boundaries of the leases - BLM will not prohibit or restrain the lessees from using Nine Mile Canyon and its principal side canyons to access project areas on the West Tavaputs Plateau.

So, if issued, the leases will in all probability increase industrial traffic levels in the canyon. This is bad news. As those who have followed this issue know, it is the dust kicked up by heavy truck traffic through the Canyon that is causing damage to the rock art (also harmful are the chemical suppressants that ameliorate some of the dust, but also contribute to the degradation of the rock art).

We will continue to monitor the situation closely, but from what we’ve learned thus far, the BLM’s proposal would further increase truck traffic through the Canyon and dramatically exacerbate the damage to thousands of irreplaceable cultural artifacts.

-- Ti Hays & Virgil McDill

Ti Hays is the Public Lands Counsel and Virgil McDill is the Communications Manager at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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.

In Memoriam: Dorothy Marie Miner, Preservation Lawyer, Educator, Advocate

Posted on: November 6th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

Dorothy Marie Miner (© Historic Districts Council)

Dorothy Marie Miner (© Historic Districts Council)

Dorothy Marie Miner — preservation lawyer, educator, and stalwart defender of New York City's historic places — died on October 21, 2008. As legal counsel to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission from 1975 to 1994, Dorothy’s close attention to detail and process protected the Commission, and the historic places it designated, from numerous legal challenges. She played an instrumental role in the court proceedings that eventually led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1978 ruling upholding the constitutionality of New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Law, as applied to protect Grand Central Terminal. Later, she played a critical role in a precedent-setting 1990 federal appeals court ruling upholding the City’s preservation law against both takings and Free Exercise challenges brought by St. Bartholomew's Church. That decision remains to this day the leading precedent under the U.S. Constitution regarding the landmarking of historic religious properties. In other important cases, Dorothy helped to defend the City’s effort to protect significant interiors, including a number of Broadway theaters.

Dorothy Miner's successful work at the forefront of preservation law in New York helped to ensure that historic places throughout the country would be protected as a result of the application of local landmark laws similar to New York’s. Paul Edmondson, general counsel of the National Trust for Historic Preservation remembered her work. "Dorothy's fierce defense of New York City's landmarks preservation law had direct national impact. As long as New York's preservation law stood on firm legal ground, other cities and counties throughout the country had strong precedent to support the legitimacy of their own local historic preservation laws." ... 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.

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.

Help Save New Orleans’ Charity Hospital and the Adjacent Mid-City Historic Neighborhood

Posted on: November 4th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 43 Comments

 

Back in May, we listed Charity Hospital and its adjacent Mid-City neighborhood to our annual list of America's 11 Most Endangered Places. The threat is has become even more imminent, and we we need your help. Voice your concerns now to change a potentially disastrous course -- one that would leave this major New Orleans landmark to an uncertain fate, abandon an already-struggling downtown, and destroy at least 18 square blocks of a historic neighborhood.

New Orleans is poised to lose Charity Hospital and the VA Medical Center. The relocation plans of these two institutions call for the needless demolition of more than 165 historic homes  -- at least 18 square blocks -- within the lower Mid-City National Register District. Bulldozing this historic neighborhood would not only betray the residents of New Orleans, who are working so hard to rebuild their communities, but could easily be avoided. The rehabilitation of iconic Charity Hospital, and a nearby alternative site for the VA, would avoid the demolition of even a single historic property.

Please act now to help us prevent the needless destruction of historic and cultural resources triggered by ill-advised and short-sighted planning.

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.