Interviews

[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.

[VIDEO] Why Shockoe Bottom Matters

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

 

Spotlight_SB_blog

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.