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Rescuing an Icon, Part Two

Posted on: November 7th, 2007 by Barbara Campagna

 

A story of how a typical business trip turned into a tale of disaster management of national importance…

(Editor’s Note: Originally written in August for her personal blog, Barbara Campagna has agreed to share the story of her experience at the Farnsworth House in Plano, IL, as the floodwaters from the Fox River approached.)

August 24th, 2007

The Farnsworth House, Plano, ILWhitney and I had plans to drive out to Chicago for a 10:30 am meeting at the Landmarks Illinois office in the Monadnock Building with David Bahlman and Al Novickis, the architect ready to start work on the SAT grant for the house. I went down to a scrumptious breakfast to be told that Whitney had called at 7:30 am to say that the house had been completely surrounded by 4 feet of water during the night and I should get out there as soon as possible. I emailed my office and drove there to find that the Farnsworth House was peering above the water just barely, its 5 foot high stilts completely submerged and the water lapping at its front door. David Bahlman, President of Landmarks Illinois our co-steward partner at the house, drove down from Chicago, and he, Whitney and her boyfriend and I, tried to figure out how to get to the house to see if water had gotten in and/or to try to elevate the furniture and the rare Primavera wood panels.

We are fortunate that Whitney, the new site director who has only been in her job for 4 months, has lived in the community for 15 years and knows everyone. The water was too high and too dangerous to consider wading through. So we knew we needed to find a flat-bottomed boat. She called everyone she could think of including the Fire Department and no one had a boat. We feared we would be able to do nothing but watch as the house became submerged and possibly damaged as extensively as it had in 1996 when water rose 5' into the house.

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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.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at bcampagna@bcampagna.com.

Notes from the Field: New Orleans

Posted on: November 5th, 2007 by Walter Gallas

 

Lower 9th Ward, New OrleansThe arts continue to find their inspiration in the New Orleans post-Katrina experience while providing inspiration and encouragement to long-suffering residents. This weekend a production of Samuel Becket’s “Waiting for Godot” was presented in the streets of the Lower 9th Ward. Next week it moves to the streets of Gentilly. The production is a New Orleans version of a June 2007 production in New York by the Classical Theatre of Harlem. (NPR produced an interesting audio piece about this production for Weekend Edition Saturday.)

Also this weekend, trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard appeared with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra to present “A Tale of God’s Will (a requiem for Katrina),” a series of pieces based on his and his band’s compositions for the soundtrack of Spike Lee’s documentary “When the Levees Broke.”

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.

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.

Rescuing an Icon, Part One

Posted on: November 1st, 2007 by Barbara Campagna

 

A story of how a typical business trip turned into a tale of disaster management of national importance...

(Editor's Note: Originally written in August for her personal blog, Barbara Campagna has agreed to share the story of her experience at the Farnsworth House in Plano, IL, as the floodwaters from the Fox River approached.)

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

The Farnsworth House, Plano, ILMy day began like many others since I joined the National Trust - board a plane for another city, actually leave and arrive on time (not the norm), rent a car and soon find myself driving out of a city and across the plains and sprawl of middle America. This time briefly passing through Chicago en route to Plano, Illinois, the location of one of the world's most famous and influential modernist icons - Mies van der Rohe's vacation home for Edith Farnsworth. I arrived on time at 1pm for a day of project review with the new Site Director, Whitney French.

It was sunny and humid, not unlike my home in Washington, DC. A week of massive rains in the Midwest had left the Fox River, next to which the Farnsworth House lies, full and rising. Thirteen inches of rain left spots of minor flooding on the 7 acres adjacent to the house, mostly evident along the quarter mile trail from the Visitor Center to the House. These patches caused the tour groups to detour to the house via a ride along Fox River Drive to the rear garage entrance - not the best scenario because the preferred trail brings the visitor up and around the house, giving you that "ah ha" moment when you come around a copse of trees and suddenly see the white steel and glass cube that changed the way architecture is made. But a rear entrance is preferable to no entrance - people literally come from around the world to pay homage to one of the 20th century's grandest yet simplest architectural gestures.

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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.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at bcampagna@bcampagna.com.

Notes from the Field: New Orleans

Posted on: November 1st, 2007 by Walter Gallas

 

The existing VA hospital, closed since Hurricane Katrina.Oktoberfest is a long-running tradition even in New Orleans, which retains a substantial number of descendants of the hard-working German immigrants who found New Orleans a friendly port in the storm of political turmoil in the 19th century. Today, New Orleans’ German culture is threatened again by the construction of a mega-complex envisioned for the Veterans Administration and the Louisiana State University medical system. It would replace is the 1940s-era hospital shown at right, which the Veterans Administration will abandon in favor of building a new facility possibly in the Mid-City National Register Historic District of New Orleans. This hospital has not been opened since Hurricane Katrina.

Deutsches Haus, today’s German cultural society in New Orleans.Deutsches Haus, today’s German cultural society in New Orleans, and a tattered but intact neighborhood are at ground-zero of the VA-LSU development. It is one of many buildings threatened by the city's plans. We will see how this all plays out, as federal and state forces couple with the city to carry out the 21st century version of urban renewal to clear neighborhoods for development.

Walter Gallas is director of the New Orleans Field Office.

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.