Author Archive

No Thanks, I'll Walk

Posted on: November 2nd, 2007 by Sarah Heffern 1 Comment

 

Anyone who knows me is aware that I wouldn't trade my Capitol Hill neighborhood for a bigger piece of real estate out in the 'burbs, and a friend recently sent me a link to a website that illustrates one of the reasons I like where I live: I can get almost everything I need without ever getting into a car. Walkscore.com uses Google Maps to plot the amenities within walking distance of any address, and provides a numerical score.

It's no coincidence that my vibrant, historic neighborhood scores well -- with an award-winning Main Street program, I am lucky enough to live in a place where preservation has truly made an impact. My current apartment scores an 86 out of 100, and my former home, just one block from Barracks Row, scored a whopping 97. For purposes of comparison, I plugged in my brother's address in the DC suburbs, and it scored a 29. 29!

Historic and walkable -- that's the recipe for a great neighborhood. Sorry, bro.

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.

Restoration Blogging

Posted on: October 15th, 2007 by Sarah Heffern

 

Now seems like as good a time as any to mention another blog produced by the National Trust for Historic Preservation: The President Lincoln's Cottage blog. After all, the cottage will be opening to the public in just a few months, and was the subject of a great article in yesterday's New York Times.

President Lincoln's Cottage, described as a 19th century Camp David, is undergoing a complete transformation in preparation for its February debut. Staff at the cottage are writing about the restoration, the history of the Lincoln presidency, the site's role in DC, and more. It's a fun and fascinating look at the creation of a historic site. Check it out.

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.

Making Space for Art

Posted on: October 10th, 2007 by Sarah Heffern

 

The multi-story lobby of the Tilsner Artists’ Cooperative in St. Paul

(This post was written as part of PreservationNation’s coverage of the National Preservation Conference, October 2-6, 2007.)

It's a fairly common occurrence that artists are often the earliest residents in neighborhoods, such as warehouse districts, overcoming years of neglect. With the cachet of a vibrant arts community, more and more people and businesses choose to locate in these areas, leading to an economic upturn. The downside, however, is that rents move beyond what artists can afford to pay, and as a result, they end up evicted from very places their presence made "cool."

Friday morning dawned rainy in St. Paul, but it didn't seem to dampen anyone's enthusiasm for a field session called "Adapting Historic Buildings for Artists" -- a look at the work of Artspace, a nationwide nonprofit that started in the Twin Cities. The organization's goal is to create affordable housing for artists, eliminating the "Soho effect," the problem outlined above, so called for the once-artsy, now trendy Manhattan neighborhood.

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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.

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.

Can an Arena Help a Neighborhood?

Posted on: October 5th, 2007 by Sarah Heffern 1 Comment

 

Businesses along West Seventh Street, St. Paul, MN.I discovered the Xcel Energy Center on Sunday night, when I had the good fortune to get to see the Minnesota Wild play their final pre-season hockey game (which they won -- yeah! -- though that's relevant neither to the story nor the Wild's standings). I didn't know it at the time, but I would be returning to the vicinity of the arena repeatedly, as the adjacent RiverCentre was the conference headquarters. I also hadn't realized that the "From Immigrants to Sports Fans: Transformations in the West Seventh Street Neighborhood" tour for which I was registered was focused on the area immediately surrounding the Xcel Center -- though had the title specified hockey fans, I might have caught on a bit sooner.

I decided to take this particular tour because I wanted to see how St. Paul handled development in the surrounding area. Washington, DC, my home for nearly 10 years, built an arena in Chinatown just before my arrival that inspired a tremendous economic boom, but also caused the flight of the immigrant population who gave the neighborhood its name. With the exception of the arch over H Street and Chinese characters on the signs for chain restaurants and shops, the streets surrounding the Verizon Center could be anywhere. The local character has been erased almost completely. I needed this tour to tell me that other cities find a way to combine growth and development with maintaining the unique flavor of a neighborhood.

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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.

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.

Good Work, Rewarded

Posted on: October 5th, 2007 by Sarah Heffern

 

I spent part of yesterday evening in St. Paul's beautiful Fitzgerald Theater (where Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" is taped weekly), as the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced its annual Honor Awards.

I was amazed by the breadth of work honored, and found the presentations to be a fantastic way to see the many varied, unexpected ways that historic preservation touches people's lives.

Here are the winners:

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.

Preservation=Revitalization

Posted on: October 4th, 2007 by Sarah Heffern

 

Details on the turret were uncovered during restoration this summer.Historic preservation has a little bit of an image problem. Most everyone knows the stereotype: little old ladies saving the dead white guy's mansion. And from Mount Vernon on down, preservationists have in fact saved more than a few abodes of the rich, famous, Anglo, and deceased.

It is important work, to be sure. Saving, maintaining, and sharing the places involved with major figures and events in American history has a great deal of value. But to think that this is all there is to historic preservation, however, would be to sell it short. Preservation has also become a critically important tool for community development and revitalization.

This type of work was the focus of the tour I took this morning, which was led by the staff of Historic Saint Paul. They showed us several in-process restorations in the Dayton's Bluff and Payne-Phelan areas of east St. Paul, where they are working with lower- and middle-income residents and immigrant communities to use historic preservation as the main tool for revitalizing their neighborhood. Their primary focus is exterior rehabilitation, to improve the streetscape and draw in further investment.
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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.

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.