Revitalization

Baton Rouge's Huey LongNeck Pub Crawl

Posted on: April 29th, 2011 by Guest Writer

 

Inherit Baton Rouge is a newly formed division of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana (FHL) designed to engage professionals and students under 35 who are devoted to the preservation of the cultural and historical character of Baton Rouge. Inherit Baton Rouge’s mission is to inspire its members to take an interest in the city’s treasures and invest in its heritage. FHL accomplishes this initiative through education on historic preservation and several cultural and social events. Learn more at the Foundation for Historical Louisiana's website.

Written by Leigh Danielle Honeycutt

Huey Long, perhaps Louisiana’s most famous (and infamous) governor, was not known as a preservationist. That is, until now. In 1929, Huey petitioned the state legislature to appropriate money to build a newer, nicer governor’s mansion for his family. They denied his request. Being the rogue that he was, he took matters into his own hands and in the middle of the night arranged for inmates from the local prison to “deconstruct” the home. Once the former mansion was demolished, the legislature had no choice but to apportion him money to rebuild an executive residence.

Pub crawlers fill historic Third Street in downtown Baton Rouge

Construction began immediately on what we came to know as Louisiana’s White House since Huey commissioned the mansion be a smaller replica of the Washington, DC White House. Huey was so confident that he would one day become President, he wanted to make sure he knew his way around once he took office. Complete with an East Room, Oval Office, Rose Garden and West Wing, the mansion was finished in an eager twelve months.

Huey, known for bringing his resident bartender along on out-of-town trips to mix up his favorite Ramos Gin Fizz drink, seemed like the perfect fit for our Inherit Baton Rouge kick-off event. The Huey LongNeck Historic Pub Crawl was held on April 7, 2011 and began at Huey’s House: the Old Governor’s Mansion, also the preservation headquarters for the Foundation for Historical Louisiana. An astounding 275 attendees came out and participated in pub crawl activities throughout the evening at several bars in downtown Baton Rouge including The Roux House, Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar and Restaurant, Red Star Bar and Happy’s Irish Pub.

At each bar, organizers polled the pub crawl participants with historic trivia

At each bar, organizers polled the pub crawl participants with historic trivia and prizes were awarded. One of the prizes was a weekend stay graciously donated by the comeback King Hotel just re-opened in downtown Baton Rouge, an historical landmark where Huey often stayed. The pub crawl was a chance for younger citizens to socialize and learn about opportunities to revitalize the community through preservation. Inherit Baton Rouge plans to continue social and service events to connect its members with the organization’s mission. Who knew Huey would become such a local preservation icon? No one, that is, until now.

Watch this great video produced by the Foundation for Historical Louisiana about the relevance of historic buildings and neighborhoods as we move into the future:

Leigh Danielle Honeycutt is the Deputy Director of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana.

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.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Main Street Monday: Road Trip Edition

Posted on: April 4th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Written by Erica Stewart

Here’s our second installation of Main Street Monday, a monthly round-up of news stories that celebrate America’s historic downtowns and neighborhoods business districts and those people who strive to make them vibrant centers of community life.

Lititz, Pennsylvania (Photo: Flickr user Rob Watski)

Lititz, Pennsylvania (Photo: Flickr user Rob Watski)

With spring weather finally, fitfully unfolding in many parts of the country, this recent story by CNBC on towns that are worthy road trip destinations had me daydreaming. Paducah, Kentucky, Lititz, Pennsylvania and San Angelo, Texas are among those CNBC affectionately named “Time Warp Towns”. According to a local news story out of Paducah about the moniker, Time Warp Towns are “…downtowns populated with former Woolworths-turned-antique-booth malls, neon signs for Rheingold or Schaeffer, gingerbread detailing, town squares, monuments, cobblestones, and/or apple pie!”  Fans of Paducah and San Angelo must really be tickled, as this recognition comes on the heels of making the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2011 Dozen Distinctive Destination list.

Manistee, Michigan's Vogue Theater. (Photo: Flickr user Farlane)

Manistee, Michigan's Vogue Theater. (Photo: Flickr user Farlane)

Whether you’re fond of his films or not, there’s no debating Michael Moore’s devotion to Michigan’s historic downtown theatres. In 2007, Moore jumpstarted a volunteer-driven rehabilitation of the State Theatre in Traverse City that has won rave reviews—both for the top-notch restoration (in just six weeks!) and its tremendous downtown revitalization impact. Mr. Moore recently announced his next act will be the abandoned Vogue Theatre in Manistee, Michigan. He spoke in front of an enthusiastic crowd (especially considering the 10-degree weather) in Manistee to kick start the ambitious rehabilitation plan with his own $10,000 donation and a rousing call to action. The Downtown Development Authority has purchased the theatre, the development team is being assembled, and citizens are donating time and money to support the $1 million rehab. With that, the stage is set for a stunning transformation that puts a 73-year old theatre in the starring role of the community’s revitalization.

Our third story, to be filed under the Main Street® Really Works category, comes from Laramie, Wyoming where a regional CBS affiliate reports this community of 27,000 near the Colorado border is bucking the trend. At a time when our nation’s economic news is more bad than good, the Laramie Main Street program is driving investment downtown, drawing in new businesses, and helping existing ones grow and expand. Laramie has 300 businesses in the downtown district. Ten new ones opened in the last year, four in the last month. Business owners cite the district’s attractive, historic buildings, walkability, and the free marketing and promotion services offered by the nonprofit Laramie Main Street as strong selling points. Executive Director Trey Sherwood is working hard to keep the good news coming, interviewing potential businesses to fill the few vacancies downtown, and brainstorming with existing ones to keep cash registers ringing. Sounds like this “gem city of the plains”, a Preserve America community, deserves a place on summer road trip itineraries as well!

Erica Stewart is the outreach coordinator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Communications and Marketing department.

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.

Preservation Round-Up: Thriving Main Streets Edition

Posted on: March 7th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Written by Erica Stewart

With the news dominated this past week by possible federal government shutdowns, showdowns on the state house steps, and of course, crazy Charlie Sheen rants, it was very refreshing to encounter three uplifting stories from places that are surviving, even thriving, in times of recession. Despite differing geography, population, economy and attributes, each example offers strong testimony to the power of Main Street to make our historic downtowns vibrant places to live, work and play—whatever the economy.

The first is courtesy of NBC Nightly News Reporter Roger O’Neil who visited Thomasville, Georgia, home to a robust Main Street revitalization program, in search of the secret to keeping its downtown humming. Despite its small population of 20,000 and the effects of the nation’s slumping economy, downtown Thomasville is thriving. Recession? What recession? Only one restaurant out of 15 in downtown Thomasville has closed, and only one of its 40 businesses has shuttered. This news comes as no great surprise to folks familiar with the National Trust’s Main Street Four Point Approach, a comprehensive revitalization strategy that uses a community’s unique assets to drive its future. Check out the clip for the keys to Downtown Thomasville’s success.

The second story takes us to the heartland, where Main Street Iowa (MSI) has reached a staggering milestone. MSI, the statewide program that coordinates the application of the Main Street approach in participating communities, announced that its local programs have attracted more than $1 billion in private investment over MSI’s 25-year history! That’s about $79 private dollars for every public dollar. MSI also expects to surpass the two million mark in volunteer hours dedicated to local Main Street programs, representing $33 million in donated time. 2011 is shaping up to be quite a banner year, as Main Street Iowa will soon welcome legions of downtown revitalization professionals, planners, officials and enthusiasts to Des Moines for the annual National Main Streets Conference in May (if you think your community could use a million or two, better meet us in Des Moines).

Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh's Bloomfield neighborhood. (Photo: Brian Cohen, www.briancohenphotography.com)

Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh's Bloomfield neighborhood. (Photo: Brian Cohen, www.briancohenphotography.com)

The third story takes us to the hilly neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, where once-moribund neighborhood commercial districts are starting to come alive. Take Mt. Washington, for example, and its Shiloh Street—the undisputed heart of the neighborhood that was bled dry by suburban competition starting in the 1960s. Today, thanks to the slow and steady Main Street approach, signs of life abound: “once vacant stores that are now filled with people, young families strolling the blocks, and colorful murals that have replaced the graffiti.” Its interesting architecture and unique independent business brings people out on the streets, making them safer and livelier. Mt. Washington used to be plagued by commercial vacancies. Now it has only one, and that is temporarily being leased by a church. This rejuvenation is not unique to Mt. Washington. The city has 10 Main Street programs that are reclaiming their historic neighborhood business districts without losing their soul.

Erica Stewart is the outreach coordinator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Communications and Marketing department.

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.

New Allotment Allows for Additional Historic Rehabilitation Projects

Posted on: February 24th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Erica Stewart

Baltimore's American Brewery building. (Photo: Paul Burk)

Baltimore's American Brewery building. (Photo: Paul Burk)

Today was a good day for fans of historic real estate development. This morning, the National Trust’s historic real estate investment subsidiary, the National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC) was awarded $29 28 million in New Markets Tax Credit authority by the CDFI Fund of the U.S. Treasury. This means that NTCIC can continue to utilize this tax credit to help finance the rehabilitation of vacant or underutilized historic buildings which bring essential jobs, tax revenue and goods and services to low-income neighborhoods.

Equally exciting was the fact that the announcement ceremony was held at the American Brewery building, a structure that underwent a $23 million historic rehabilitation that was financed in part by NTCIC’s $5.3 million historic and New Markets Tax Credit equity investment. Completed in 2009, the project converted a five story, Italianate-style brewhouse built in 1887 and that had stood vacant for thirty years into stunning program and office headquarters space for Humanim, Inc. Humanim is a 40 year old nonprofit organization that provides educational, vocational and clinical service programs for individuals with developmental, emotional, neurological and physical disabilities.

One of the completed interior spaces in the American Brewery building. (Photo: Paul Burk)

One of the completed interior spaces in the American Brewery building. (Photo: Paul Burk)

The rehabilitation generated significant tax revenues, construction jobs and household and business income in a severely underserved community: the neighborhood is part of a census tract with a 51% poverty rate and an unemployment rate more than four times the national average. Once completed, Humanin relocated its 250 employees to the American Brewery building and hired locally to fill an additional 40 jobs.  Moreover, the return of the American Brewery building as a proud anchor for the neighborhood, where it had been an eyestore for so long, gives a tremendous boost to community pride and optimism that better times lie ahead.

NTCIC President John Leith-Tetrault expressed his enthusiasm for the project in his remarks at the ceremony, saying, “If you are in our business: demonstrating that historic buildings can play an important role in revitalizing low-income communities, it doesn’t get any better than this.”

Erica Stewart is the outreach coordinator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Communications and Marketing department.

Updated 2/27/2011 to reflect correct allocation amount.

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.

The “Energy-Saving House” That Saves History—and Maybe Our Future, Too

Posted on: December 10th, 2010 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Written by Erica Stewart

Knox Heritage, the National Trust’s citywide preservation partner in Knoxville, Tenn. is demonstrating with their latest project that preservation is not only green, but also on the cutting edge of sustainable technologies. It’s so-called “Green House” historic rehab strives to illustrate how historic preservation principles can be compatible with new energy-saving technologies, keeping preservation at the forefront of advances in building materials and systems.

Knox Heritage (KH) has a long history of acquiring and rehabbing neglected single family Victorian-era homes for re-sale in Knoxville’s historic districts. It’s most recent work is concentrated in World’s Fair Park in the Historic Fort Sanders neighborhood, which is considered an inner-city neighborhood. Here KH has worked with development partners, Cardinal Development and Kinsey Probasco Hays to rehab and sell six historic homes.

In honor of this partnership, the development firms donated a circa 1880s house to Knox Heritage for its rehab, which KH has decided to make its first LEED-for-Homes-certified historic rehabilitation. That Knox Heritage chose this house in particular to serve as a demonstration project is poignant. During the 1982 World’s Fair the house was refurbished, along with the six Victorian houses around it, to host visitors from around the globe. It was known as “The Energy Saving House” since it was designed to demonstrate the latest technology for conserving energy.

Unfortunately, retaining the home’s historic fabric was completely disregarded. Nearly all of the interior detailing was removed and the original floorplan was altered drastically. All the windows were replaced. The east and north sides of the house sprouted a metal and glass atrium and solar panels and skylights were visible on the roof. The priority was clearly new technology, not the house’s historical integrity.

Today, with funding from the City of Knoxville’s Solar America Cities program, (a U.S. Department of Energy program bestowed on 25 cities) and numerous sponsors (including the National Trust Loan Fund), volunteer experts, and supporters, the house will again be a demonstration of energy efficiency—but this time, while also respecting its historical character. In fact, great care is being taken to return historical elements to the property using salvaged materials, including historic trim, doors and flooring. Exterior siding and roofing and windows have been replaced with historically appropriate and salvaged materials.

Equally painstaking has been the selection of energy-efficient systems and solar technologies that maintain the aesthetic appeal and historic character of the property. For example, the hot water system is being installed under the roofing material to gather thermal energy, and a photovoltaic film—the same color as the traditional standing seam metal roof—will be applied to generate power that will be purchased by the regional power company. This is a solar solution that many historic homeowners can consider and is fully approved by the Knoxville Historic Zoning Commission.

Recycled materials that were manufactured within 500 miles are also being sourced for the project, such as recycled cellulose insulation. The product has a small carbon footprint, reduces heat loss and provides a useful sound buffer for its future residents. Other touches include low-flow water fixtures and CFC lighting.

But it isn’t only the future residents who will benefit from this effort. To ensure greater awareness of green technology that is compatible with preservation goals, Knox Heritage has organized educational sessions for local/regional contractors and open house events for its members and local citizens. Furthermore, the project is part of a study by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to measure its energy-efficiency (Knox Heritage is hoping to demonstrate a 50% reduction in energy consumption). The Green House’s data will be compared to other homes in the study that have been rehabbed in a similar fashion: making the building more air-tight; weatherizing the attic, crawl space and windows; upgrading heating and cooling units, water heaters, appliances and lighting; and installing solar technology.

Regardless of the actual study results, the Green House stands as an opportunity for other builders, architects and homeowners to learn from and as an inspiration to incorporate its lessons.

Now that would be a green house effect to be proud of.

For a video tour of the project and the Green House’s supporting cast and star performers, watch Knox Heritage’s You Tube video below. Find Knox Heritage on Facebook, Twitter or on the web for updates.

(oh, and that gold geodesic dome visible in the video is not a rooftop installation on the Green House, but rather the “Home of the Future” built for the 1982 World’s Fair.)

Erica Stewart is the outreach coordinator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s community revitalization department.

Editor's Note: Due to an Internet outage at National Trust headquarters, this was posted by phone. Apologies for any typos or errors with the photo or video. Links and author information will be added when the Internet is again available. Updates made December 13, 2010.

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.