Author Archive

[Interview] All in the Family: Walter Nold Mathis, Villa Finale, and the Preservation Legacy

Posted on: August 17th, 2015 by National Trust for Historic Preservation No Comments

 

By Jane Lewis, Executive Director, Villa Finale


After purchasing what is now known as Villa Finale, Walter Nold Mathis (left) lovingly restored both the exterior and interior (right) of the Italiante-style home.

In 1967, San Antonio civic leader Walter Nold Mathis was looking to purchase another home after discovering his house in the Monte Vista Historic District of San Antonio was in the path of new US Highway 281. His friend, well-known preservation architect O’Neil Ford, told him about “the finest house in Texas” located in historic King William, a once-grand neighborhood founded by German immigrants that had fallen on hard times. Mathis toured the 1876 Italianate mansion located on the San Antonio River, now known as Villa Finale, and immediately fell in love with its many fireplaces, high ceilings and overall charm.

After purchasing the home and restoring it to a single-family dwelling -- it had been subdivided into affordable apartments since the late 1920s --Mathis realized the three homes across the street from Villa Finale were in a state of serious neglect.  So, he purchased those three properties plus a dozen more over the next few years.

Mathis completed some if not all of the restoration work on the properties before selling them to mostly young couples who were not only interested in historic preservation but who also had the energy to complete the work themselves.  Many times he would fund the mortgages himself in order to get the most historic home enthusiasts into the neighborhood, who otherwise might have been turned down by their financial institutions.

Throughout the nearly forty years Mathis lived in Villa Finale -- the name given by him in honor of it being his last home -- the King William Historic District went from being a run-down urban neighborhood to one of the most desirable places to live in the entire city. Walter Mathis was indeed the catalyst that spurred the revitalization of King William, an undertaking that earned him the Louise E. duPont Crowninshield Award in 2003, the highest honor awarded to an individual by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Upon his death in December 2005, Mathis bequeathed his entire estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Today, Villa Finale: Museum & Gardens is the only National Trust Historic Site in Texas, delighting visitors with its vast collections of fine and decorative arts, right in the heart of a vibrant historic neighborhood.

We asked three of Mathis’ family members, Josie Bain Fauerso (niece), Elizabeth Fauerso (great-niece), and Clark Kardys (great-nephew), to share their memories of this preservation advocate and explain his contribution of Villa Finale to the legacy of preservation.... 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.

After Remarkable Relocation, Historic Gay Head Lighthouse Shines Again

Posted on: August 12th, 2015 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

By Jenna Sauber

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The Gay Head Lighthouse was triumphantly reopened on August 11, 2015.

After 160 years of sea cliff erosion, the Gay Head Lighthouse in the town of Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard was literally a few dozen feet away from being lost forever to the Atlantic Ocean.

Two years of planning, paperwork, heavy labor, and $3.5 million later, island residents and visitors alike can sleep easily again under the sweep of the familiar Gay Head light. After an extensive relocation campaign this spring, the lighthouse reopened on August 11, a safe 130 feet farther inland where its red and white beacon is shining brightly once again.

A journey of 130 feet, however, required the help of an entire community. Here are just a few of the local preservationists who made this vision a reality.... 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.

Weekend Reads from CityLab, Atlas Obscura, Daily Mail, and More

Posted on: August 7th, 2015 by National Trust for Historic Preservation No Comments

 

by Tim Mikulski

Welcome to Weekend Reads at the PreservationNation blog, wherein we share a handful of the most interesting preservation-related stories we've come across over the course of the week.

Pershing Park at 14th and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW in Washington, D.C. The park is named after John J. Pershing, the General of the Armies during World War I.
Pershing Park at 14th and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW in Washington, D.C. The park is named after John J. Pershing, the General of the Armies during World War I.

“Late last year, Congress authorized a new National World War I Memorial for Washington, D.C. Just last month, that memorial took its first step toward becoming a reality. But there’s a hitch: The site that legislators picked out for the monument is already home to a World War I memorial. Predictably, the plan has sparked a skirmish over the best way to remember the War to End All Wars.” CityLab -- How Many World War I Memorials Does One Park Need?

“It has been submerged in water for more than 80 years. But now, following this summer's record drought, 60 per cent of Lake Mead has dried up, revealing entire buildings that disappeared decades ago. And tourists are flooding in. The reservoir -- America's largest -- is home to St Thomas, an Old West town which was lost in 1938 when the government built a dam to create a lake.” Daily Mail -- Astonishing drought unveils lost Wild West town that has been submerged under Nevada's Lake Mead for the most part of 80 years... 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.

Tuberculosis Sanitariums: Reminders of the White Plague

Posted on: August 6th, 2015 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 5 Comments

 

Written by Anya Grahn

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Left: Consumptives playing in front of an open-air cottage at the Wisconsin State Sanitarium (circa 1940). Right: Mae Panzenhagen Strong in front of the Wisconsin State Sanitarium where she had been a patient (circa 1945).

For centuries, the white plague -- also known as tuberculosis (TB) or consumption -- was considered an ailment of the poor. The rich often escaped the embarrassment of the disease by retreating to European health spas, while the poor continued to suffer with no relief. As the Industrial Revolution brought more workers into crowded urban centers, the plague spread and no one was immune.

Bacteriologist Robert Koch’s germ theory in 1882 provided better insight into the disease, and lent itself to explaining the spread of tuberculosis. State and local anti-tuberculosis organizations led social movements to improve sanitary conditions through anti-spitting laws and health regulations; encouraged consumptives to seek medical treatment; and persuaded state and local governments to create a network of state and county hospitals that isolated consumptives.

These sanitariums mark the beginning of government-funded campaigns to address tuberculosis. At these sites, consumptives spent years seeking a cure through prescribed regimens of fresh air and sunlight. Located away from local urban populations, these self-sufficient medical complexes became isolated communities containing a series of buildings that provided housing for patients and staff, medical and administrative offices, utility plants, and other uses. While many of these structures have been lost, others have found new uses as housing developments, medical facilities, and even museums.... 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.

[Historic Bars] The 1747 Pub in Annapolis, Maryland

Posted on: August 6th, 2015 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

By Kirsten Hower

150805_blog-photo_Reynolds-Tavern-NR-sign
Originally a hat shop and an ordinary, Reynolds Tavern is now a quaint tea room and working tavern.

When someone offers to buy you a drink in a nearby basement, you typically worry. Especially if the basement belongs to a hatter, mad or otherwise.

The 1747 Pub is the exception to the rule.... 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.

Palace of the Governors: A Time Capsule of Santa Fe’s Diverse History

Posted on: August 5th, 2015 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

By Kirsten Hower

Indian Detours personnel group photo with Harvey cars lined up in front of Palace, c. 1926 - 1930.
Indian Detours personnel group photo with Harvey cars lined up in front of the Palace of the Governors, c. 1926 - 1930.

Located in the heart of downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Palace of the Governors is one of the oldest, in-use public building in the United States. Once the seat of power, the Palace now showcases the diverse and colorful history of Santa Fe and its peoples. This Exposure slideshow takes you on a virtual tour of this unique historic place.


Palace of the Governors by National Trust for Historic Preservation on Exposure

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.