Interviews

[VIDEO] Why Shockoe Bottom Matters

Posted on: January 21st, 2015 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

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Between 1830 and 1865, the slave trade of Richmond, Virginia's Shockoe Bottom was second in importance only to that of New Orleans. Auction houses, offices, and slave jails, like the one that held Solomon Northup, whose memoir was the basis for the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, were scattered across a creek bottom that flowed to the James River.

Much of the site has been lost to time, but the place remains a reminder of the suffering and injustice that took place there. It also stands as a symbol of endurance and resistance.

But beyond the passage of time, 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 matters to them, and how they would like to see the site used. 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.

 

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Porter Johnson purchased and began restoring the 1850 plantation house in his hometown of Tallulah, Louisiana after returning from Iraq in the summer of 2011.
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Porter Johnson purchased and began restoring the 1850 plantation house in his hometown of Tallulah, Louisiana, after returning from Iraq in the summer of 2011.

In the winter issue of Preservation magazine, we highlight the story of Lt. Col. (Ret.) Porter Johnson, who was bitten by the preservation bug while serving in Baghdad from 2010-2011. After returning home, Johnson set to work restoring an 1850 plantation house in his hometown of Tallulah, Louisiana.

Johnson was one of the best and most enthusiastic interviews I had all year, and I wish I could have made more of his story fit on the page. Luckily for me -- and for you -- I get the chance to publish more of his unique story below.... 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.

All in the Family: What Oatlands Means to the People Who Grew Up There

Posted on: January 13th, 2015 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

By Katherine Malone-France, Vice President for Historic Sites

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A snapshot of Oatlands Plantation after a winter snowfall

Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to visit with several of the families who gave their properties to the National Trust to become historic sites. These families, who owned our sites before they were open to the public and made the choice to donate them to the National Trust, have a unique perspective on these places and our work.

One such site is Oatlands, a National Historic Landmark in Leesburg, Virginia, that was donated to the National Trust in 1964 by the Eustis family, who had owned the property since the early 20th century. However, the connection between the Eustis family and the National Trust runs even deeper; Margaret Eustis, one of the final generation of the family to own the property, was the wife of David Finley, the founding chairman of the National Trust and an important figure in American cultural life in the 20th century.

David Finley served as the first director of the National Gallery of Art and the founding chairman of the White House Historical Association. He’s also credited for much of the success of the Roberts Commission, of which he served as vice chairman, in saving great works of art in Europe during WWII. (Here’s a great post on Finley’s role in the Roberts Commission, whose story was told in the recent film “Monuments Men.”)

For the first post in a series of Q&As with some of the families connected to homes that have become National Trust Historic Sites, David Finley Williams, a retired attorney and the grandson of David Finley, was kind enough to answer a few questions about his family’s connections to Oatlands and to the National Trust.... 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.

[Interview] Q&A with Little Bighorn Archaeologist Douglas Scott

Posted on: December 24th, 2014 by Katherine Flynn 2 Comments

 

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A metal detecting team of National Park rangers and volunteers working near the Little Bighorn River in 2010, the last time Douglas Scott participated in a survey at the site.

In the Winter 2015 issue of Preservation magazine, Logan Ward's story “Common Ground” takes a closer look at an innovative partnership at James Madison’s Montpelier: metal detectorists and archaeologists working side by side to unearth artifacts and dig more deeply into the rich history of our fourth president’s estate.

While this new program is certainly groundbreaking, it’s not without precedent. In 1984, archaeologist Douglas Scott, now retired from the National Park Service, used metal detectors in a large-scale survey of the site of the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn in eastern Montana. The conflict was a historic showdown between General George Custer’s 7th Calvary Regiment and members of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, with the Native American warriors emerging victorious. An estimated 268 U.S. soldiers were killed in the conflict, including General Custer.

With help from more than 30 machine-swinging volunteers, Scott and his partner, Richard Fox, were able to locate more than 5,000 artifacts and accurately map the action of Custer’s Last Stand for the first time ever. Their work at the battleground was one of the first archaeological surveys to employ metal detectors in an organized, systematic way.

I chatted with Scott about the survey, the use of metal detectors as an archaeological tool, and the mystery of the battlefield's Deep Ravine.... 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] Q&A with Trina Turk, Designer and Preservationist

Posted on: December 15th, 2014 by Lauren Walser 1 Comment

 

Trina Turk’s flagship boutique in Palm Springs opened in 2002 in a 1960s Albert Frey building.
Trina Turk’s flagship boutique in Palm Springs opened in 2002 in a 1960s Albert Frey building.

When we connected with designer Trina Turk for our Winter 2015 issue’s Back Story, we were eager to hear about the historic houses she and her husband, photographer Jonathan Skow, have restored in Los Angeles and Palm Springs. And we figured if we had time, we’d like to learn a thing or two about the history behind the locations of a few of her retail stores. (Her Los Angeles boutique is in a former feather trim factory!)

As it turns out, we could have talked with her for hours. We knew Turk was a committed preservationist -- but we had no idea just how much her love of historic architecture inspires her designs.

Since we had limited room in print, we thought we would share more of our interview here. Read on to learn more about Turk’s favorite old buildings and what her fashion designs have in common with Midcentury Modern architecture.... 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.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.

[Interview] The American Legend Lives On at Lyndhurst Castle

Posted on: December 2nd, 2014 by Guest Writer

 

By Ashley & Brittany Hill

The 1838 Gothic Revival-style mansion Lyndhurst Castle in Tarrytown New York represents 175 years of influential American history.
The 1838 Gothic Revival-style mansion Lyndhurst Castle in Tarrytown, New York, represents over 175 years of influential American history.

Lyndhurst, a National Trust Historic Site, welcomed us to tour the property as part of our American Legend Tour, a nationwide commitment to raising historical awareness and educating America’s youth about the importance of the pursuit of the American Dream.

The American Dream permeates Lyndhurst’s history, as it was home to three influential families over the years: William Paulding; George Merritt, who doubled the size of the estate; and legendary railroad financier Jay Gould. Together, they represent about 175 years of history. Anna Gould, Duchess of Talleyrand and Princess de Sagan, donated the 67-acre estate in memory of her parents to the National Trust for Historic Preservation upon her death in 1961.

We spoke with Krystyn Hastings-Silver, associate director of Lyndhurst, about why she is passionate about preserving and portraying the memories of the Castle’s famous residents, what opportunities are available for the public to interact with the site, and how Lyndhurst is, in her words, “a time capsule.” [Interview is edited for length and clarity.]... 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.

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.