Author Archive

Springsteen Fans Save Home of "Born to Run"

Posted on: December 17th, 2009 by Sarah Heffern 1 Comment

 

Bruce Springsteen, from my front-row vantage point in Charlottesville, VA in April 2009.

Bruce Springsteen, from my front-row vantage point in Charlottesville, VA in April 2009.

I became a preservationist in the 5th grade. We were doing a unit called "The Built Environment," wherein we traipsed around on field trips, locating the oldest buildings in town and learning to spot architectural features like urban bird watchers. One of the buildings we studied, the quaintly-named Rose Mansion, was slated for demolition, with a hotel being planned in its place. If memory serves, we wrote letters to the mayor asking that it be saved. We didn't succeed -- the mansion came down, no hotel was ever built, and a preservationist was born.

In that same year, something else happened that would end up defining another aspect of my life - I discovered Bruce Springsteen. As strange as this may sound, I have a very specific memory of the Solid Gold Dancers putting their unique spin on "Hungry Heart" when it landed on the pop charts. (You can laugh if you want. I know it's absurd.) The dancing didn't do a lot for me, but the music did, and I started down the road of lifelong fandom.

A decade of employment at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and nearly 20 live Springsteen shows later, these two passions finally came together. Yesterday, a colleague sent me an article about the New Jersey house where Springsteen wrote Born to Run, which has  just been purchased by a trio of fans who want to ensure that the house remains intact.  Though I don't have the means to do such a thing myself, both my preservationist side and my Springsteen-fan side understand (and wholeheartedly support) the impulse.

The three [purchasers] have no plans to alter the property, though they would eventually like to “restore it correctly...”

Their immediate aim... was simply to keep the house from falling into the hands of someone who would take advantage of the property’s commercial zoning by knocking it down and replacing it with a business structure.

“Would it be turned into a parking lot or a condo? Not on our watch,” she said.

One of the new owners goes on to quote from the opening lines of the first song from Born to Run, "Thunder Road"

The screen door slams
Mary's dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays

Thanks to the work of these three preservation-minded fans, the porch where Bruce Springsteen may have envisioned Mary dancing will be saved. And someday, when Madonna's childhood home in Michigan is preserved, the colleague who sent me the article about Bruce's house will get to write his version of this story.

Sarah Heffern is the content manager and blog editor for PreservationNation.org. She has a not-insubstantial collection of Bruce Springsteen bootlegs.

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.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.

Climate Change and Places That Matter

Posted on: October 20th, 2009 by Sarah Heffern

 

Last Wednesday night I was among a packed house at Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium for the opening plenary of the National Preservation conference.  Sharing the keynote speaker duties was Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature, and many other books. His presentation began on a light note, but quickly moved to more serious territory as he talked about the role climate change could have on a topic near and dear to our preservationist hearts — historic resources. He recapped his speech on the Mother Jones website a few days later, and his point is as powerful in print as it was in person:

We need to grasp that everything is threatened by climate change. Not just nature preserves, not just ski areas, not just poor people who depend on glaciers for their water. But everything we take for granted about the world.

Take history. The Scots just published a list of 10,000 historic sites, dating back to the Neolithic, that may disappear as the oceans rise. A one foot rise in sea level, and the Washington Mall could flood regularly.

But it goes deeper than that. Our sense of the people who came before us derives in part from the fact that we share the same world. The historic buildings of New England have steep roofs because they needed to shed snow—in a world without snow we'd never be able to feel the deep connection to their world. We won't be able to farm in the places we used to farm, or fish in the places we used to fish—even if we survive, we'll be moored on a new, presumably artificial, island with no real link to the past...

I have to admit that I'd never quite thought about climate change in that way, and I could see that I was not the only one in the Ryman that night with a little (compact florescent) lightbulb over my head.

All of this, though, was McKibben's prologue — his way of reminding us that the reality of climate change resonates with different people for different reasons. He then got to the central point of his presentation, asking us to join him in taking action against climate change. The organization he founded, 350.org, has a "day of action" coming up this Saturday (October 24). Around the world, more than a thousand actions, from bike rides to tree planting sessions, will take place.

It's still possible to add more actions to those being offered, so perhaps a work day at a local historic site could double as a 350 action. If you decide to run with this idea, please take pictures. The group is soliciting photos from each action, so it's an ideal time to mashup your This Place Matters sign with a 350 one, and submit your picture to both us and 350.org.

Because, as McKibben says in his Mother Jones piece, "Global warming touches everyone, and everything."

Including our places that matter.

***

Curious, by the way, as to what 350 stands for? Here's a cool YouTube video that explains it - wordlessly.

***
Oh, and we'll have video of the plenary session, including Bill McKibben's keynote speech, posted to the Virtual Attendee page within the next week or so. Please check back.

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.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.

 

Though we wish it could be otherwise, we realize that not everyone can attend next week's National Preservation Conference (NPC) in Nashville. And while nothing is quite the same as being there, we've decided to try to pack as much NPC goodness as we possibly can onto the Internet on our new "Virtual Attendee" site. Over the course of the conference 13 webcasts and more than 20 live session feeds, along with a selection of session handouts, will be available online.

Presenting the sessions is one thing, but capturing the vibe is another... and we're trying to do that via Twitter. We've corralled 15 of our best thumb-typists to cover as much of the conference as possible in 140 characters or less. Interested in food? Follow Caroline: @CFB_PresNation. Are parties more your scene? Then you want to follow Joelle: @JPS_PresNation. More interested in what's happening in the Exhibit Hall? Try Andrew: @AG_PresNation or Priya: @PC_PresNation. Jacquie (@JJ_PresNation) is going to be keeping up with the folks in the Diversity Scholarship Program. We've even gotten one of our crack legal team tweeting:  follow Ross (@RB_PresNation) to see a lawyer try to keep it brief. All the tweeters (twitterers?) -- and their beats -- are listed on the Virtual Attendee page.  Can't decide what sounds best? Get the whole shebang -- our tweets plus those of any other attendees tweeting along with us -- by keeping up with the #PresConf tag on Twitter.

Still not convinced? Watch this video:

See? How can you resist?

Anyway... Please, follow along (and participate!) on Twitter, keep an eye on the live streams, and watch the webcasts. Otherwise, I will have humiliated myself on YouTube for nothing.

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.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.

 

One of the places listed on our 2009 11 Most Endangered List, the Miami Marine Stadium, is getting a boost from a big name -- Florida music icon Jimmy Buffett, who has recorded a public service announcement in support of saving the similarly-iconic modernist site. A recent Miami Herald article shared the story:

Singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett has publicly endorsed preservationists' efforts to restore and reopen the city-owned Miami Marine Stadium on Virginia Key, the site of many a Parrothead's fondest -- if also foggy -- memories.

...

It's a symbol of everything that's great about Florida -- boats, music, water and great Florida fun,'' a smiling Buffett says as a live version of Margaritaville from the stadium show plays in the background. "The stadium deserves a future.''

Given the enthusiasm of the Parrotheads I know for all things Buffett, this seems almost guaranteed to bring a great deal of new support to  the site  -- which, we hope, will inspire Miami officials to make the right choice and save the stadium.

The PSA is available via the Miami Herald or on YouTube.

Outside of Margaritaville, pressure to save Miami Marine Stadium is also growing:  Today, the World Monuments Fund added Miami Marine Stadium to its 2010 Watch List. The press release announcing the list notes "this year’s Watch reflects a growing understanding that heritage cannot be preserved in isolation, but rather must be addressed as part of a broad physical and social context."

I have a feeling that "social context" is just what Jimmy Buffett might have in mind.

Sarah Heffern is the content manager and blog editor for PreservationNation.org.

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.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.

NYT Looks at Taking "America's Best Idea" into the Future

Posted on: September 28th, 2009 by Sarah Heffern 1 Comment

 

Yesterday's debut of the new Ken Burns PBS series, The National Parks: America's Best Idea, has gotten everyone talking... Well, everyone in the preservation/conservation communities, at least. I'll admit that I didn't have a chance to tune in to the first episode, yet, but having been an avid fan of the National Parks since my first (and, thus far, only) visit to Yosemite more than 20 years ago, it's only a matter of time before I get caught up.

The New York Times, however, is encouraging people outside our community to think beyond the history of the parks to their place in our future. They've asked a variety of authorities -- from land, water, and forestry experts; to a former secretary of deputy secretary of the Interior; to our own Richard Moe, who writes on behalf of historic and cultural resources -- to look at the challenges the National Parks face going forward. While many of us think about these issues regularly, it's a tremendously accessible primer for those outside our profession. And though I can't say I agree, personally, with everything stated, the various pieces are well-done and thought-provoking.

In his essay, National Trust for Historic Preservation President Moe recommends that the historic and cultural resources of the park system be handled with the same vigorous effort being thrown at natural resources:

... The National Park Service should immediately launch a cultural resource challenge to take care of the deferred maintenance needs of historic and cultural sites and increase funding for cultural resources staff to ensure that sites are inventoried, monitored and protected. A similar challenge has recently resulted in a significant increase in staffing and funding for natural resource protection; surely our cultural resources deserve nothing less.

Read the full article online here.

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.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.