Interviews

Historic Sites Matter Because…

Posted on: April 27th, 2015 by Priya Chhaya 5 Comments

 

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"They connect me to my past and present." -- Stephanie Riley, Acoma Sky City

Over the past 15 months, National Trust deputy general counsel Tom Mayes has been asking preservationists to consider the question: Why do old places matter? While his answers include memory, community, and ancestry, his goal is to paint a more complete picture of why historic places, landscapes, and spaces are important.

We had this theme in mind when a group of National Trust staff members got together earlier this spring to talk about interpretation and education at our 27 historic sites. These individuals work every day with objects, land, and buildings. They are intimately connected with their site’s history and are filled with passion for its place in the broader community.

So, we asked each of them to complete the statement “Historic Sites Matter because…” Their answers inspired us -- we hope they’ll inspire you, too.... 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.

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya is Associate Manager for Online Content, Preservation Resources at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A public historian at heart, she sees history wherever she goes and believes that it is an important part of the American identity.

 

Written by Sophia Dembling

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Kate Clifford Larson is the author of Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero.

Kate Clifford Larson, Ph.D., was intrigued by Harriet Tubman when her daughter studied the famous abolitionist in elementary school. But when she looked for a biography of Tubman written for adults, the most recent one Larson could find was from the 1940s.

Thus began her career as a Tubman scholar.

Larson's book Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero came out in 2003, and she has since become a go-to scholar, consulting with Eastern seaboard states developing Harriet Tubman sites and, recently, with HBO about a miniseries co-produced with and starring Viola Davis.... 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.

 

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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.