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Tomb of the Unknowns Update: Study Requires "Highly Experienced Specialists"

Posted on: March 21st, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Shortly before Congress and President Bush enacted the temporary reprieve for the historic monument, the Army announced that it had “decided to pause” its effort to replace and discard the historic Tomb Monument “until … Congress has the opportunity to review the report.” The report is due at the end of July 2008.

In the meantime, the Army also announced that it was “considering repair of the Tomb Monument’s cracks[.] … If implemented, the repair … is part of the cyclical maintenance that is needed to preserve the Tomb Monument while we continue to explore long-term options.” Given the Army’s stubborn insistence that replacement is necessary, this announcement – under political pressure from Congress and thousands of Americans – is not reassuring to preservationists.

On March 13, therefore, the National Trust for Historic Preservation cautioned the Army and Department of Veterans Affairs that it is imperative that the personnel tasked with conducting the new study of the Tomb Monument be highly experienced specialists in the conservation of marble. For example, this expert must conduct technically sophisticated tests to assess the structural integrity of the monument, evaluate the feasibility of repairing the monument, and prepare cost estimates for repair versus replacement.

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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.

Cottage Offers Visitors an Insider Look at the Life of President Lincoln

Posted on: February 22nd, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

President Lincoln’s CottageOf all the things we know about Lincoln’s Second Inaugural—it was the occasion in which he laid out his "with malice toward none, with charity for all" vision of Reconstruction—a little known side note is that, at the reception following his inauguration, Lincoln chose to serve his guests Mumm champagne. I gleaned this fact at an event last Wednesday evening at Lincoln’s Cottage, the National Trust’s newest Historic Site, at which, appropriately, the champagne being served was none other than Mumm.

The Cottage is being unveiled after a years-long, $17 million makeover that restored it to the look-and-feel it had when Lincoln and his family spent time there during his presidency.

President Lincoln’s CottageIf you’re expecting Versailles, or even the relative splendor of the White House, think again. Though quite large, the home is modestly appointed, and the spare furnishings placed intermittently throughout—a few chairs, some books, a checkerboard table—speak to a man seeking a bit of solitude amidst simple things. The Lincoln family transported furniture between the Cottage and the White House each season, a practice that probably encouraged them to pack lightly and furnish sparingly. A Washington Post article last week noted that Lincoln breakfasted at the Cottage on an egg and coffee before setting off on his daily commute to the White House, and after spending an evening there, that Spartan meal seems perfectly suited both to Lincoln and to the elegantly simple Cottage itself.

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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.

 

I’m happy to report that, on January 29th, President Bush signed into law a temporary reprieve for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which federal officials want to replace with a replica because of repairable cosmetic imperfections.

Thanks to the advocacy of 4,000 National Trust for Historic Preservation members and friends who asked Congress and the Army to repair rather than replace the authentic Tomb, Senators Daniel Akaka and Jim Webb successfully amended the Defense Authorization Bill to include a measure that will delay hasty action, mandate a new meaningful study, and require a report to Congress.

The historic monument is not safe, but now preservationists have a real opportunity to reverse the Army’s decision.

The Defense Authorization Bill requires the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to report to Congress within 180 days to:

  1. Describe the Army and Department of Veterans Affairs’ current plan to replace and dispose of the 1932 Tomb Monument;
  2. Assess the feasibility and advisability of repairing the Tomb Monument;
  3. Describe the current efforts (if any) to maintain and preserve the Tomb Monument;
  4. Explain why no attempt has been made since 1989 to repair the Tomb Monument;
  5. Provide a comprehensive comparison (for the first time) of the cost of replacing versus the cost of repairing the Tomb Monument; and,
  6. Assess the structural integrity of the Tomb Monument.

Since April 2007, when we learned of the plan to replace the monument, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s president Richard Moe has lobbied key members of Congress as well as the Army and Department of Veterans Affairs.

We’re also very pleased that the Arlington County government, Arlington Heritage Alliance, APVA – Preservation Virginia, American Institute for Conservation, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Virginia Department of Historic Resources each support repairing the cracks in the 1932 marble monument – rather than replacing the authentic monument.

-- Rob Nieweg

Robert Nieweg is the director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Southern Field Office

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.

Farnsworth House Featured in Kenny Chesney Music Video

Posted on: January 18th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Country music star Kenny Chesney features Farnsworth House, a National Trust Historic Site in Illinois, in his video, “Don’t Blink.” Although not identified, it represents the home of a family whose fast living jeopardizes the enjoyment of everyday life (the oft-repeated lyrics “One hundred years goes faster than you think” and “Life goes faster than you think” suggests a potential historic preservation message). Over the past four months, this music video has been viewed nearly one million times, giving tremendous (but anonymous) exposure to a National Trust Historic Site.

-- 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.

Celebrating Place and Heritage

Posted on: November 26th, 2007 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

On Saturday, November 17th, Candice Coyan from American Express and I (along with our family members) represented Partners in Preservation (PiP) at the Pui Tak Center's community celebration. After Chinese harp music performed by students, the program began with a short video they had prepared to tell the story of how they won the popular vote and got the big award, mainly as a THANK YOU to the room full of people who had voted regularly and supported their efforts. The video was prepare by one of their students who also teaches computer skills.

Three speakers were invited to tell why they voted in support of PuiTak and why they believed the building should be preserved. Each of these were people who had "grown up" in the building attending classes or participating in social events with their parents. The first was Helen Lee, the head of the Chinese chamber of commerce and a first-generation Chinese American. The second was a gentleman who was a third-generation immigrant family member who had studied Chinese at Pui Tak every day after American school. The third was a first-generation college student who spoke in Chinese; she had taken ESL classes in the building after immigrating as a teenager with her family. Each speech was translated in segments by the outreach minister of the Chinese Christian Union Church which now owns the building. It was very moving.

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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.