Author Archive

 

The Brooklyn Public Library was designed to look like an open book. Credit: Roberta Lane
The library's central branch is a striking building combining Art Deco and Scandanavian Modernist elements, completed in 1941 on Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. The design was meant to evoke an open book.

Last week, the Brooklyn Public Library central branch celebrated the completion of restoration of their entrance doors, made possible by the Partners in Preservation program, a partnership between the National Trust and American Express.

In 2012, Partners in Preservation chose 40 diverse historic places all over New York City to compete for $3 million in preservation funding by appealing to the public for votes. The Brooklyn Public Library won the popular vote, and with it, $250,000 for their preservation project.

Now, a year later, you can see the fruits of the partnership in completed projects such as these doors. Here's my take on the Brooklyn Public Library's milestone, filtered through Instagram.

The newly restored doors at Brooklyn Public Library. The Brooklyn Public Library was designed to look like an open book. Credit: Roberta Lane

The people who created this library system understood that providing beautiful, inspiring public buildings was as important to the community as it was to build robust library collections. The library's entryway is framed with glowing, gilded figures from history and lore. To enter a great library is to pass into other, bigger worlds, and the Brooklyn Public Library's fine entryway draws patrons into that elevated experience like nothing else could.

Working on the Brooklyn Public Library's doors. The Brooklyn Public Library was designed to look like an open book. Credit: Roberta Lane

The library's users are among the most diverse in the country, and it serves as a vibrant center of community. A huge range of places in all five NYC boroughs competed for Partners in Preservation funding, from the Guggenheim and the Apollo, to a small church in Staten Island and a stately historic house museum in the Bronx. But the Brooklyn Public Library won the public vote by appealing to Brooklynites' love for their iconic library.

Interior of the Brooklyn Public Library. The Brooklyn Public Library was designed to look like an open book. Credit: Roberta Lane

With Partners in Preservation, the National Trust and American Express sought to help historic places to meet their immediate restoration needs. But by driving them to ask the public for votes, we also wanted to help them build their visibility and base of support, and to engage with people about the importance and relevance of NYC's multifaceted history.

Roberta Lane speaks at the celebration of the Brooklyn Public Library's door restoration. The Brooklyn Public Library was designed to look like an open book. Credit: Roberta Lane

I just moved to Brooklyn in March to staff the National Trust's new New York Field Office. Before speaking at the ribbon-cutting, I snuck away to spend some time in the local history part of the library, poring over historic images of the Brooklyn streets I've been exploring. As a preservationist, I was happy to be part of this celebration of the Brooklyn Public Library's restoration success. As a new resident of Brooklyn, I was particularly glad for the chance to thank the library for caring for this place we all value, and ensuring that it will endure.

Find Roberta on Instagram at robertal7, and the National Trust at presnation.

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.

Roberta Lane

Roberta Lane

Roberta Lane is the Senior Field Officer and Attorney for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s New York City Field Office. She has been with the National Trust since 2006, delivering preservation technical assistance and legal guidance in the field.

 

The Edris House (1954) was carefully designed and sited to blend with its desert environment.
The Edris House (1954) was carefully designed and sited to blend with its desert environment.

Last weekend, I escaped the chill of the Northeast to travel to Palm Springs, Calif. for a friend’s wedding. My trip from NYC to Palm Springs followed the path of Don Draper in Season 2 of the AMC series Mad Men, when some drama unfolded in a great Modernist house in the desert. For a preservationist like me, the house was the star of that episode.... 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.

Roberta Lane

Roberta Lane

Roberta Lane is the Senior Field Officer and Attorney for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s New York City Field Office. She has been with the National Trust since 2006, delivering preservation technical assistance and legal guidance in the field.

[SLIDESHOW] Instagram Tour: Nantucket Lightship

Posted on: January 18th, 2013 by Roberta Lane

 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time at the National Trust, it’s that people love lighthouses. I’ve had the privilege of working with a passionate, effective corps of advocates for these romantic beacons, and have often met fans who make a point of visiting lighthouses while touring around our country.

There is a similar band of preservationists focused on saving historic vessels. I think people are so compelled by these elements of our maritime heritage because they represent the best of the American spirit -- ingenuity, grit, sacrifice, and adventure.

So I find it really satisfying, but not surprising, to see how much delight is inspired by the Nantucket Lightship/LV-112, a floating lighthouse and one of our National Treasures. You can learn more about the Lightship and our work there on SavingPlaces.org, but in the meantime, enjoy a photographic jaunt through this endearing (floating) place.

Find me on Instagram at robertal7, and the National Trust at presnation.

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.

Roberta Lane

Roberta Lane

Roberta Lane is the Senior Field Officer and Attorney for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s New York City Field Office. She has been with the National Trust since 2006, delivering preservation technical assistance and legal guidance in the field.

[SLIDESHOW] Instagram Tour: Mount Auburn Cemetery

Posted on: January 7th, 2013 by Roberta Lane 1 Comment

 

Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass., is one of the most significant historic cemeteries in the country, an astounding public amenity and site of repose, and one of my favorite places. Opened in 1831, this National Historic Landmark was among the first "landscape cemeteries," a major departure from the stark burying grounds that came before. And it also happens to be a couple of short miles from my home.

Now, a confession: I'm addicted to Instagram. And for a while after becoming addicted, I actually held off on photographing at Mount Auburn. I was saving it, as I wanted to be there on the perfect day, with unlimited time, because the artistry and design collected there are out of this world.

And that's the point, right? Transcendence. What I really wanted was to channel historic Mount Auburn’s transcendence out to others, using this handy tool for connecting with people around the world.

The result is my first "Instagram Tour," in which I'll take you through some of my favorite spots in the cemetery and share fun facts along the way. I hope you'll get to visit in person one day, but until then, let this virtual tour whet your appetite.

Find me on Instagram at robertal7, and the National Trust at presnation.

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.

Roberta Lane

Roberta Lane

Roberta Lane is the Senior Field Officer and Attorney for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s New York City Field Office. She has been with the National Trust since 2006, delivering preservation technical assistance and legal guidance in the field.