General

 

Belle Grove Plantation, Middletown, VA © 2008 NTHP

In June 2007, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved a Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for widening Interstate 81 through the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, despite significant objections from the National Trust and other preservation organizations. Significantly, FHWA invoked a new optional short statute of limitations for the Tier 1 decision, which allows only 180 days from the decision to file suit – a provision added in the SAFETEA-LU transportation reauthorization legislation passed in 2005. Following an unsuccessful attempt to persuade FHWA to withdraw its shortened statute of limitations for the Tier 1 decision, the Trust opted to join a lawsuit, which was filed by the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Shenandoah Valley Network, Scenic Virginia, Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, and others in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia in December 2007.

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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.

Legal Defense Fund (LDF) Advocacy Updates

Posted on: June 9th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Grand Central Terminal, New York, NY © 2008 NTHPThe Law Department of the National Trust for Historic Preservation is excited to begin posting National Trust Legal Defense Fund (LDF) advocacy updates to the PreservationNation blog. In the past we have published a newsletter several times per year that describes various projects we are working on in the Law Department. Our initial posts to the blog, which will begin appearing over the next few days, will come directly from our most recent May 2008 LDF Update Newsletter with the expectation that future updates will be posted as developments on existing and new advocacy issues occur.

For those who are who are unfamiliar with the LDF, it is the legal advocacy arm of the organization. Through the LDF, the National Trust carries out litigation and legal advocacy to ensure the effectiveness of preservation laws at the federal, state, and local levels. LDF staff lawyers respond on many fronts to help communities around the country protect their heritage, their homes and businesses, their neighborhoods, and their history.

The LDF’s first goal is to avoid the need to go to court at all by using advocacy to encourage better government decisions that protect historic sites, neighborhoods, and landscapes. But when it becomes necessary, the LDF is prepared to litigate to protect the nation’s historic resources.

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.

Notes from the Field: New Orleans

Posted on: May 29th, 2008 by Walter Gallas 1 Comment

 

img_1038.JPG1205-07 Felciana is a double shotgun house in a section of the Bywater National Register and local historic district. It is considered a contributing building in the district, but has serious roof damage and other structural damage, which have placed it on the city's demolition list. Its demolition was approved at the staff level by the Historic District Landmarks Commission in September 2007 for structural reasons and because it posed a health hazard. This is one of the first properties to be demolished by the new city-hired contractors as part of the continuing agreement under the National Historic Preservation Act, whereby "selective recoupment of character-defining elements" must be done before a historic contributing property is demolished.

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Recently, the two of the FEMA historic preservation staff (pictured here from the left, Gail Lazaras and Adrian Seward) spoke to the contractor about the procedures for the selective recoupment and how they will monitor the process for the upcoming 200 or more properties. In this property, the chief items removed were door frames and a few windows. These will go to the Preservation Resource Center's warehouse for resale at reasonable prices, or for use in PRC or National Trust-supported projects. What was painfully obvious, though, was that the intact bargeboards and beaded boards which make up so much of the house's construction would not be saved under the definition of "character-defining elements." Neither is the city requiring salvage in any of the demolitions it initiates. We therefore began discussions with the contractors, who seem to be willing at least to talk about the possibility of crews from the Preservation Resource Center's Rebuilding Together program stepping in and removing more reusable building materials prior to total demolition. This would be a big step.

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.

Notes from New Orleans: Lafitte Demolition Continues

Posted on: May 19th, 2008 by Walter Gallas

 

Laftitte Demolition, May 17-18, 2008.

I walked around the Lafitte housing development this weekend and took these photos. The section between N. Rocheblave (the northern most boundary) and N. Galvez Street (the center traffic artery running through the site) is mostly piles of bricks, twisted metal (including the scrolled ironwork porch supports and metal windows) and personal effects. As I passed on foot, two men ran out of one of the standing buildings clutching some kind of materials that they threw into the trunk of car and then sped off. I imagine they were stripping the buildings of valuable building materials or helping themselves to the contents of the apartments, many of which are still furnished. So, about half of the development is demolished, but the potential 196 interim units in 18 buildings are still standing at the southern end of the site closest to the Claiborne overpass.

Laftitte Demolition, May 17-18, 2008.

As the work moves relentlessly on, Rick Denhart of Mercy Corps has been trying to work with the demolition contractor for Lafitte to determine the value the contractor assigned to various materials which the contractor intended to obtain as scrap (and hence lower the amount of his overall bid). This information has been slow in coming. The idea, as Rick explained it, would be to try to get intact items like windows and figure out a way to have the contractor accept payment of that value. Time is working against us here as the attempted negotiations stall.

Laftitte Demolition, May 17-18, 2008.

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.

Historic Sites at a Crossroads

Posted on: May 15th, 2008 by Max van Balgooy

 

Forum Journal spring 2008The spring 2008 issue of Forum Journal is a special issue devoted to historic house museums, thanks to a generous grant from the 1772 Foundation. This special issue includes the findings and recommendations from the 2007 Forum on Historic Site Stewardship in the 21st Century at Kykuit (N.Y.) along with a half-dozen provocative essays on membership, heritage tourism, fund raising, stewardship, and attendance and financial trends by David Donath, John Durel, Marian A. Godfrey, Katherine Kane, Max A. van Balgooy, Jim Vaughan, Amy Webb, and David Young.

The essays are introduced by Jim Vaughan, Vice President of Historic Sites at NTHP, who not only provides a brief description of each essay but also lays out the findings and recommendations from the Kykuit symposium. You won't find complete consensus but you should be provoked by some of the ideas that were proposed (such as, calling them "historic house museums" limits our thinking, so let's use "historic sites"). Don't keep them to yourself—we invite you to share them here.

Forum members will receive their copies of this special thematic issue in the mail (look for the new full-color cover!). If you're not a member, you can find the introduction on PreservationNation.org and the entire issue is available for $8 through PreservationBooks.org or by calling the National Trust for Historic Preservation at (202) 588-6053. Better yet, join National Trust Forum and you'll receive this issue and much 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.