Conferences

Biking Through St. Paul History

Posted on: October 5th, 2007 by Margaret Foster 1 Comment

 

St. Paul CathedralIt was a typical Foster moment. The bike tour was going well until my National Trust tote bag got stuck in my front tire. Wedged, really, so that the wheel wouldn’t budge. These things happen, and mostly they happen to me.

Our three-hour tour had started off innocuously enough: A bunch of us gathered in front of the clanging Cathedral of St. Paul, chose our rental bikes (somehow I ended up with a lavender Schwinn), and began cruising down Summit Avenue. Our tour guide, Mike Koop of the state historic preservation office, led the peloton, and, I’m sorry to admit, I frequently brought up the rear. Yes, in a group of thirty- to sixty-somethings, I was back there with our “sag wagon,” a white pickup poised to sweep up the wimps.

Our first stop was a Cass Gilbert-designed mansion, and, as our group was staring at it, a friendly Midwesterner (so redundant) came out and shouted, “Do you want to come in?” But we rode on, stopping at a park with a fountain designed by the sculptor who did the Rockefeller Center Prometheus, a church-turned-theater that the city had snatched from the jaws of demolition, and two colleges, where impossibly young kids flopped in the grass, studying in the October sun.... 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.

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.

Wholly Modern

Posted on: October 4th, 2007 by Sarah Heffern 1 Comment

 

Christ Church Lutheran, Minneapolis, MNI've always thought of myself as a modern, forward-thinking woman, except for when it comes to art and architecture, where I have always been something of a 19th-century girl. I used to think that Modernism was a little too sterile and stark for my taste, but over the past few years I have really grown to like it. I can't credit anything for this transformation beyond increased exposure, and the more I learned about mid-century design, the more my perception changed, and now I find it clean and calming--and beautiful. I'll never lose my affection for a fancy cornice, but I now feel similarly fond of simplicity.

I was, therefore, really looking forward to exploring Minneapolis on the tour I took Tuesday. On our way to downtown, we made a side trip to see a neighborhood church--though not a typical one by any stretch of the imagination. Nestled in the Longfellow neighborhood is Christ Church Lutheran, a Modernist masterpiece designed in 1949 by Eliel Saarinen with a 1962 addition by his son Eero. After we spent a few minutes exploring the exterior, built of Minnesota Kasota Stone, Pastor Kristine Carlson welcomed our group in the education wing created by the younger Saarinen and then led us into his father's final commission, the main church building.

Christ Church Lutheran, Minneapolis, MNOne of the first things I noticed was the amazing acoustics of the room; when I wandered to the front of the church to take photos, I could clearly hear Pastor Carlson as she continued speaking to the group. The warm browns and golds of the stone walls and wooden pews glowed in the gentle light shining in through the vertical windows. Even on a morning as cloudy as the one when we were there, it cascades gently through the room, creating a calming, spiritual space. I think one of my fellow tour attendees most accurately summed up the sanctuary when he said that it "conveys the infinite."

More information about the history and design of Christ Church Lutheran can be found here: www.christchurchluth.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.

It Comes Down to Dollars, Pesos, Euros, and Yen

Posted on: October 3rd, 2007 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

National Trust staff member David Field models the shell lei from Guam.After spending much of the day yesterday in conference sessions focusing on the need to better market historic preservation to a broader audience, it seemed appropriate that I should encounter pure marketing genius here at the conference today.

Let me explain. This morning I was torn between two great-sounding educational sessions--a session on preservation in Asian and Pacific Islander communities or one on preservation commissions and green building issues. I was leaning toward the green issues session, if only because I thought that the Q&A portion would provide me a platform to spout my pro-solar and wind power views. (True to my Dutch heritage, I've never met a windmill I didn't like.) I
was actually waiting in line to gather handouts for the green session when I spotted a very white guy outside the API meeting room wearing decidedly un-white guy accessories. Curiosity got the better of me, and I ventured down the hall to check things out. It turned out that folks from Guam were greeting all the attendees at their session with seashell leis—sold!

The lei, of course, is more than a gift, it's a symbol, one that our colleagues from Guam asked that we wear for the whole conference; if anyone asks what's up, the answer is, "I've stepped outside of the comfort zone of traditional historic preservation." (Actually, it's really not so far outside my own comfort zone--I just need to guard against covetous attendees at tonight's GLBT reception--more on that tomorrow.)

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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.

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.