Interviews

 

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Sometimes, the experiences that move us most are also the ones that go beyond words -- and that's where composer Eric Nathan finds his richest inspiration. Take, for example, his time spent in the Eternal City as a 2013 Rome Prize Fellow, where Nathan met our National Trust colleague Tom Mayes (a fellow Fellow) and became intrigued by Mayes' exploration of why old places matter.

The result of their conversations? Nathan's composition "Why Old Places Matter," a 12-minute piece for oboe, horn, and piano that was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the Boston Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players. In this piece, he evokes place, continuity, and memory -- all without words.

We caught up with Nathan to learn more about his creative process, his time in Rome, and his own relationship to old places.... 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.

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the director of digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.

 

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Paul Robeson spent the last decade of his life in this West Philadelphia house after retiring from his show business career.

Scholar, athlete, singer, actor, civil rights activist. Paul Robeson, born in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1898, was a man who played many roles throughout his long life, gaining fame and recognition for his deep baritone voice and passionate acting in film and on stage. As a young man, he was only the third African-American student ever admitted to Rutgers University, earning a full academic scholarship and All-American recognition for his prowess on the football field. Later, his stage roles included Othello, both on Broadway and in a Royal Shakespeare Company production, and he starred in films like “The Emperor Jones,” “Proud Valley” and “Jericho.”

Robeson's strong support of anti-lynching legislation and stance against McCarthyism, as well as his affiliation with Communism, got him blacklisted in the 1950s. His career stalled after his passport was revoked and he could no longer travel abroad, and he spent the last decade of his life living with his sister and her husband in a modest house in West Philadelphia. He passed away in 1976, at the age of 77.

Thanks to the work of one woman, that house is now a vibrant community arts center. Frances Aulston has been working with the West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, which owns and operates the house, since 1984. In recognition of her decades of service to the community and work with the Paul Robeson House, Aulston was recently honored by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. I spoke with her about her passion for Paul Robeson's house and legacy, and the neighborhood that he called home.... 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.

Katherine Flynn

Katherine Flynn

Katherine Flynn is an assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores and uncovering the stories behind historic places. Follow her on Twitter at @kateallthetime.

[Interview] Luftwerk Takes You Inside “INsite” at Farnsworth House

Posted on: February 23rd, 2015 by Julia Rocchi

 

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You might have heard it said that the past illuminates the present. But what if we in the present illuminated the past -- literally and wonderfully?

That's what INsite, last year's light and sound installation at National Trust Historic Site Farnsworth House, achieved in spectacular measure with a hypnotic video composition set to original music that played on and throughout the classic Mies van der Rohe-designed space. (Check out the video after the jump.) Created by artist collaborative Luftwerk, the piece played with the site's transparency and minimalism to create a new experience for visitors.

INsite ended four months ago, but its beauty has stayed with us. So we caught up with artist Petra Bachmaier -- who, with Luftwerk partner, Sean Gallero, created the multi-sensory experience -- to learn more about their work and the creative vision behind it.... 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.

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the director of digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.

[Q&A] The Chautauqua Amphitheater: An Insider’s Guide

Posted on: February 4th, 2015 by David Weible 1 Comment

 

The Amphitheater's open-air construction is one of its defining characteristics. It's speeches and concerts can be heard for blocks through the warm summer air.

The Amphitheater's open-air construction is one of its defining characteristics. Its speeches and concerts can be heard for blocks through the warm summer air.

Since it opened in 1875, the Chautauqua Institution in western New York has served as one of the great centers for public discourse on the important issues facing American society. And since 1893, the Chautauqua Amphitheater has been at the center of both that discourse and the community of Chautauqua itself.

Last week, as part of an announcement of the Amphitheater as one of our newest National Treasures, we published a Q&A with Vanity Fair architecture critic Paul Goldberger discussing the threat to the 4,000-seat, open-air structure’s historical integrity. This week, we thought we’d follow up with a Q&A with three life-long Chautauquans about what the Amp means to them.... 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.

David Weible

David Weible

David Weible is a content specialist for the National Trust, previously with Preservation magazine. He came to D.C. from Cleveland, Ohio, where he wrote for Sailing World and Outside magazines.

 

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Since it opened as a Sunday School in 1875, the Chautauqua Institution has helped spark and sustain a broader movement in education, culture, and spirituality in communities throughout the country. Today, this 750-acre education center on the shores of western New York’s Lake Chautauqua continues to serve as a summertime retreat and intellectual, spiritual, and cultural wellspring.

At the institution’s center is the 1893 Chautauqua Amphitheater, a 4,000-seat, roofed, open air structure internationally recognized as a forum for American culture and history. Its wooden stage has hosted Franklin D. Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony, Thurgood Marshall, Bobby Kennedy, Ella Fitzgerald, Amelia Earhart, Booker T. Washington, Bill and Hilary Clinton, and Sandra Day O’Connor, to name just a few.

But the building is in jeopardy. Despite a recent delay in the Chautauqua Institution’s decision-making process, there is a chance “the Amp” -- as it’s affectionately known -- may be replaced by a replica structure. In an effort to save the Amp, the National Trust has chosen it as our newest National Treasure.

To get a better sense of just how important the Chautauqua Amphitheater’s survival is, I spoke with Vanity Fair architecture critic and National Trust board member, Paul Goldberger.... 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.

David Weible

David Weible

David Weible is a content specialist for the National Trust, previously with Preservation magazine. He came to D.C. from Cleveland, Ohio, where he wrote for Sailing World and Outside magazines.

[VIDEO] Why Shockoe Bottom is Relevant Today

Posted on: January 22nd, 2015 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

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Between 1830 and 1865, Richmond, Virginia's Shockoe Bottom was the second-busiest hub of the American slave trade. The creek bottom that now sits near I-95 hosted auction houses, offices, and slave jails. Solomon Northup, whose memoir inspired the 2013 Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave, was held in Shockoe Bottom in 1841.

Since then, much of what was Shockoe Bottom has been lost to time, but the site still stands as a reminder of the suffering and injustice that took place there. It is also a symbol of endurance and resistance.

Today, the site is also threatened by the proposed construction of a minor league baseball stadium and other development.

In September 2014, the National Trust and Preservation Virginia convened local leaders and historians at President Lincoln's Cottage in Washington to discuss the future of Shockoe Bottom. They were asked why Shockoe Bottom is still relevant today, and what they would like to tell the mayor of Richmond about the development plans for the site. Here is what they said.

... 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.

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.