Interviews

Stories from the Sea: A WWII Battleship Gets a Historic Blog

Posted on: March 6th, 2013 by Gwendolyn Purdom 4 Comments

 

Reflection. Credit: Battleship North Carolina
Battleship North Carolina

In its years at sea, the USS North Carolina held more than 2,300 aboard at one time; was the first of ten fast battleships to join the American fleet in World War II; and participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific area of operations, earning 15 battle stars. When the battleship was set to be scrapped in 1958, a group of citizens banded together to save the vessel and bring her back to her home state.

Five decades later, the ship’s storied history is getting a different form of preservation through Sea Stories, the Battleship North Carolina’s new blog. Launched on January 24, the web series posts actual firsthand accounts of life on the ship, which now serves as a WWII memorial and museum, each week.

We caught up with Battleship Promotions Director Heather Loftin to find out more about the unique project.... 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.

 

Bishop Frederick C. James (screenshot). Credit: Tracy Hayes
Bishop Frederick C. James

How's this for a vision? "The rehabilitation [of] Howard Junior High school and its transformation from a ruin into a modern learning center for the community."

That's what Bishop Frederick C. James wants to achieve with the Rosenwald School in rural Prosperity, SC, where he attended Howard Junior High School from the first through tenth grades. As we shared with Mabel Dickey's podcast earlier this month, the Rosenwald School Building Program began in 1912 and was called the "most influential philanthropic force that came to the aid of Negroes at that time." It eventually provided seed grants for the construction of more than 5,300 buildings in 15 states, including schools, shops, and teachers' houses which were built by and for African-Americans.

The African-Methodist Episcopal Bishop (now retired) calls those the “greatest days of his life” and credits Howard Junior High with giving him his start in everything he ever attained. He counts among his friends many of the well-known civil rights activists of the 1960s and 70s along with other world leaders, including a former United States president.

Now, as Chairman of the Board for the Howard Junior High School Center project, he's leading the fight to restore this historic, humble building and make it a pillar of the community once more. In this Voices of Rosenwald Schools podcast, hear Bishop James speak firsthand about his formative years at the school -- and maybe even recite a poem or two.

Howard Junior High School. Credit: jimmywayne, flickr
Howard Junior High School

What’s your dream for the Howard Junior High building?

[My dream is] to fulfill its stated mission: “to activate and utilize the historic school as a community center for Rosenwald School appreciation with updated focus upon youth development, African American art and Culture, tutorial education, teacher and student achievement, and other forms of community uplift, accommodation, and service.”

What’s the biggest personal lesson you’ve learned through your work with the Rosenwald School?

I’ve met wonderful folks in preservation; it’s been a very special asset to my life to know and be aware of people in this business. It has kept my hopes alive, and my expectation is to finish this job in my lifetime.

If somebody came to you and said, “I want to save a Rosenwald School,” what’s the first thing you’d say to them?

I would say by all means organize and make contact with the very best possible people that you can. Don’t let anything deter you from your dream and your goal. Get as many people as you can who have that same dream. We need more people who have the ability, contacts, and commitment to the mission.

I’ve been busy [since retirement] because of two things I’m unable to do: say no to something that’s on my heart, and give up!

Listen to the full podcast:

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 associate director for 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.

 

blog_photo_Anne and Aaron at La Salle
Anne and Aaron at the re-dedication of the La Salle County Courthouse.

We all feel some kind of love for a certain place (or places). That’s why we’re preservationists. So what happens when two preservationists fall in love? In the case of one Texas couple, meeting each other launched a commitment to celebrating the places they love together -- by visiting all the historic courthouses across the Lone Star State.

I talked with Anne Cornell shortly after she and her fiancé, Aaron Mason, attended the Comal County Courthouse celebration, which was one of the first events in our “I Love Texas Courthouses” campaign. Having just completed their courthouse journey on December 1, 2012, their tale of Texas love is inspiring in more ways than one.... 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.

Emily Potter

Emily Potter is a copywriter at the National Trust. She enjoys writing about places of all kinds, the stories that make them special, and the people who love them enough to save them.

Voices of Rosenwald Schools: Mabel Dickey Tells Mt. Zion's Story

Posted on: February 13th, 2013 by Julia Rocchi 1 Comment

 

Mabel Dickey. Credit: National Trust for Historic Preservation/Clement
Mabel Dickey

Allow us to introduce you to Mabel Dickey. She's one of countless volunteers across the country who are tirelessly working to save Rosenwald Schools in their communities and preserve a compelling piece of African-American history.

Called the "most influential philanthropic force that came to the aid of Negroes at that time," the Rosenwald School Building Program began in 1912 and eventually provided seed grants for the construction of more than 5,300 buildings in 15 states, including schools, shops, and teachers' houses which were built by and for African-Americans.

Mabel was one of the students who benefited from this forward-thinking program. She attended the Mt. Zion Rosenwald School near Florence, SC for a brief period as a young child, and retired back to Florence as a adult. Today, she continues to fundraise so the school can be restored and used by the Mt. Zion Methodist Church and the surrounding community.

As one of our Voices of Rosenwald Schools interviewees, Mabel shared her memories, experiences, and lessons learned about this special place. Hear firsthand about her journey, and learn why she's not giving up on this little schoolhouse any time soon.... 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 associate director for 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.

[Interview] Elizabeth Ellsworth, Maven of Midcentury Modern

Posted on: January 28th, 2013 by David Robert Weible 1 Comment

 

Elizabeth Ellsworth stands in front of her Bimel Kehm house. Credit: Elizabeth Ellsworth

After retiring from a career as a marketing executive, Elizabeth Ellsworth began buying and restoring once-beautiful homes that had been tarnished by lack of maintenance or improper additions. In late 2012, she purchased the Island House. Built in 1954, it’s one of three residences designed by Bimel Kehm in New Canaan, Connecticut.

I called Elizabeth to get the skinny on the talented but enigmatic architect, her love for the house, and her restoration work.... 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 Robert Weible

David Robert Weible

David Robert Weible is an assistant editor at Preservation magazine. He came to DC from Cleveland, Ohio, where he wrote for Sailing World and Outside magazines.