Author Archive

Tulsa's Sacred Spaces: Idiosyncratic, Intriguing, and Impeccably Preserved

Posted on: October 22nd, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

The National Preservation Conference is this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Staff members from around the National Trust for Historic Preservation will be blogging from the conference and sharing their experiences. Last night, James H. Schwartz, editor of Preservation magazine, filed this report.

"Tulsa truly is the heart of the Bible Belt," the guide for the Sacred Spaces tour said Tuesday afternoon, and—perhaps appropriately, for a metropolitan area where well over 50,000 residents (!) attend services each week—the range of ecclesiastical architecture here is extraordinary.

We started our tour on Cathedral Square, inside the sprawling First Christian Church, a 1920 landmark that is both a preservation success (the building is in fine shape and retains a remarkable collection of stained glass windows) AND a cautionary tale: renovation efforts in 1966 stripped the sanctuary of much of the original, ornate plasterwork, as well as superb oak doors and carved furniture.

My favorite discovery? First Christian had one of the most innovative ventilation systems in pre-air conditioned Tulsa. A central panel in the 28-ft stained glass dome overhead opened to draw warm air out of the sanctuary, reducing interior temps by as much as 15 degrees on summer days. (No wonder attendance skyrocketed for decades.)

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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.

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.

Helping Preserve Galveston’s History

Posted on: October 17th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Members of the staff and board of the Galveston Historical Foundation in front of their offices in the 1861 Custom House, holding "This Place Matters" signs.

Members of the staff and board of the Galveston Historical Foundation in front of their offices in the 1861 Custom House, holding "This Place Matters" signs.

My visit to Galveston last week was bittersweet; on one hand, I was saddened by the enormous amount of damage Hurricane Ike inflicted on the city’s historic areas. But at the same time, I also saw first-hand the courageous response of Galvestonians to the storm, and the impressive progress in debris clean-up and remediation of damage that has already taken place.

I went to Galveston looking for additional ways in which the National Trust for Historic Preservation can partner with the Galveston Historical Foundation (GHF) on recovery efforts. For the past three years, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has been working on the ground in New Orleans focusing on post-Katrina recovery, and that work has given us extensive insight into large-scale disaster response efforts. I traveled to New Orleans just a few weeks after Katrina struck in 2005, and as I walked through Galveston last week, comparisons to the New Orleans I saw then came to mind.

New Orleans’ historic neighborhoods generally looked much worse off less than four weeks after Katrina, though its most famous historic areas largely escaped flooding. There is always a danger after disasters that people seek the quick and wrong solution of demolishing still valuable structures. As I mentioned, I’m glad that Galvestonians seem focused on rehabilitation and returning to their properties. The leadership of Galveston’s city officials has been a great help.

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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.

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.

Impressions on Galveston after Hurricane Ike

Posted on: October 14th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

In a modest response effort to assist the Galveston Historical Foundation with recovery efforts post-Hurricane Ike, I traveled to the area to lend a hand to our Local Partner. I wanted to see the damage firsthand and better understand the situation—both in terms of the state of historic resources and the condition of our Local Partner. By now, many images of Ike have been shared and several reports have come in from visitors. These are brief notes and observation from my trip on October 2-3.

Moving salvaged doors.

Moving salvaged doors.

My senses were a little on-edge as I drove to Galveston after flying into Houston Hobby Airport. It had been a couple of years since Hurricane Rita ravaged the Texas Gulf Coast, but it seemed so recent that my memory was spewing out fresh images of that storm. The first thing that struck me as I grew closer to the Island was the traffic. This was Houston-like traffic, but it was in the wrong direction and 35 miles south of Houston! It felt as if I’d been dropped into a huge contractors’ convention. Once I waded through the traffic and landed on Broadway, the next assault on my senses was the smell…like a big garbage dump. That’s understandable, though, because that’s what much of the Island is right now -- a big pile of fetid debris removed from the first floors of buildings after a thorough soaking by Hurricane Ike’s storm surge. What Ike didn’t blow away, he saturated with several feet of sea water and mud. The locals refer to it as “the nasty.” And it is. Finally, my eyes saw the true wrath of Ike -- block after block of historic resources were open to the elements -- trying to dry out. With carpet, drywall, furniture, appliances and memories all piled up on the street waiting their turn to add to the garbage pile. Galveston Island had turned into a big garbage scow.

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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.

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.

Virtual Roadtrip

Posted on: October 14th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

The National Preservation Conference is just around the corner -- next week, in fact.  Join Jeff and Kelly of Vintage Roadside on Route 66 as they make their way to their exhibit booth at the conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma - they'll drive from Topock, Arizona to Tulsa in five days, blogging about their experiences en route. Their posts will appear in the sidebar of this blog all week as they travel across the Southwest.

Vintage Roadside produces screen printed t-shirts featuring authentic advertising images from mom-and-pop roadside businesses of the 1930s through early 1960s, and donates a portion of their sales to our work here at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where, in 2007, we listed the motels of Route 66 on our annual list of 11 Most Endangered Places.

-- Susan Neumann & Lori Feinman

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.

Partners in Preservation Grant Aids in Stabilization of Viking Ship

Posted on: October 10th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 4 Comments

 

The Viking Ship sailed from Norway to Chicago in 1892 for the World's Columbian Exposition.

The Viking Ship sailed from Norway to Chicago in 1892 for the World's Columbian Exposition.

I traveled to Geneva, Illinois, last week to see the results of our Chicagoland Partners in Preservation grant on the Viking Ship. Constructed in 1892 as an exact replica of a 9th century vessel, the Viking Ship sailed from Norway to Chicago for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 in an attempt to prove that Leif Ericksson and Viking sailors could have reached North America before Columbus.

For much of the twentieth century the ship remained in Chicago as part of the Chicago Park District, until a local volunteer group in Geneva offered to take it and raise funds for a restoration. Unfortunately, those plans never came to fruition. The ship sat neglected and open to the elements under a tarp in Good Templar Park for several years. With no plan for its stabilization, and no funding available for repairs or relocation, Landmarks Illinois placed the Viking Ship on their 2007 statewide endangered list to draw attention to its plight.

A system of cables was installed to realign the hull.

A system of cables was installed to realign the hull.

But the Viking Ship has come a long way in the past 12 months, thanks in large part to the hard work and dedication of Liz Safanda, the Preservation Partners of Fox Valley (PPFV), and many others. With assistance from a Partners in Preservation grant and local fundraising, the ship has undergone a remarkable transformation. The steel cradle carrying the ship was modified with several new supports, a system of cables and turnbuckles was installed to carefully return the ship to its proper position, the sternpost was straightened, and over a dozen frames were added to reduce stress from the many split and cracked planks.

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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.

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.