Landscapes

Supporters Gather for Fort Monroe's National Monument Status

Posted on: July 25th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Monica Rhodes

The lighthouse at Fort Monroe. (Photo: Monica Rhodes)

A few days ago I had the opportunity to participate in a public meeting convened by the National Park Service for Virginia's Fort Monroe. The two sessions were held in the Hampton Convention Center and both were well attended. The crowd was as diverse as the individuals who worked diligently to get the project to this point. It is also worth noting that there were a total of 800 people in both meetings and a unanimous vote of “yes” for the designation of Fort Monroe as a National Monument.

The local supporters included the Contraband Historical Society, the Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park, and churches intimately connected to the history of the fort. National organizations such as Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated and the Sierra Club attended to show their support as well. While these organizations have diverse missions, one thing is clear: Fort Monroe provides a relevant and preservation-worthy connection to the past.

Seizing the chance to preserve a place with a multilayered history, such as Fort Monroe, is an excellent opportunity to distinguish the city of Hampton, the state of Virginia, and the United States as a nation.  Fort Monroe served as the place where the institution of enslavement - which dominated American life from 1619 until 1865 – began, and where African Americans were determined it would end.

Constructed in 1819 as a seacoast fortification, Fort Monroe is not only historically important for its tactical military position, but also for its socio-historical connections to all Americans. In 1861 during the American Civil War, the fort served as a “Freedom’s Fortress” for enslaved African Americans fleeing to protection behind Union lines. This place matters!

Residents and interested parties gathered in Hampton, Virginia to discuss the Fort's future. (Photo: Monica Rhodes)

Establishing Fort Monroe as a National Monument under the Antiquities Act is necessary to preserve and protect the site. With the President’s signature, Fort Monroe can be protected for the future owners of the national parks. National Monument status would protect and conserve the natural, cultural, and historical features of the site.

It is my understanding that the state of Virginia will work with the National Park Service to co-manage the 565-acre island. This partnership will not only encourage local and national oversight and stewardship, but also benefit from the expertise of Hampton University to interpret the story of self-emancipation for 500,000 African Americans.

Special thanks go to National Trust Advisors Dreck Wilson and Lacy Ward, and the rest of the speakers who shared their thoughts on Fort Monroe at this public meeting.

In the words echoed by many supporters at the public meeting, “Let’s Get It Done!”

Join me and demonstrate your commitment to establishing Fort Monroe as a National Monument. Please sign the letter of support to encourage President Obama to utilize the power of the Antiquities Act to create his first National Monument.

Monica Rhodes is a graduate student in Historic Preservation at The University of Pennsylvania and an intern in the Southern Field Office.

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.

A New Congressional Champion for Colorado's Chimney Rock

Posted on: July 22nd, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Denise Ryan

The Great House Pueblo at Chimney Rock. (Photo: National Trust for Historic Preservation)

On Thursday, Colorado's Chimney Rock came one step closer to becoming the U.S. Forest Service’s seventh national monument and their only national monument dedicated to the preservation of cultural resources. The National Trust has been a champion for Chimney Rock for many years, and today the Forest Service’s most important cultural site has a new champion: freshman Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO).

Rep. Tipton introduced the Chimney Rock National Monument Establishment Act in the House on July 21, 2011. Rep. Tipton’s bill is very similar to the bill introduced in the Senate by Senator Michael Bennet in March 2011 and was considered in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in May 2011. We hope that Rep. Tipton’s bill will receive a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee following the August Congressional recess.

Chimney Rock is arguably the most important cultural site managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Exhibiting many of the features that earned Chaco Canyon a World Heritage Site designation, Chimney Rock was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1970. Between A.D. 925 and 1125, the ancestors of modern Pueblo Indians occupied Chimney Rock, and the site remains of cultural significance to many descendant tribes. Hundreds of cultural elements surrounding Chimney Rock’s soaring twin rock spires, including the Great House Pueblo. Chimney Rock is the northernmost and highest (7,600 feet) Chacoan site known to exist. Every 18.6 years the moon, as seen from the Great House Pueblo, rises between the rock spires during an event known as the Major Lunar Standstill. The last Standstill was in 2006 and the next time we can witness this dramatic event will be in 2024 and 2025.

The designation of Chimney Rock as a national monument enjoys the support of the bipartisan Archuleta County Commissioners, the Town Council of Pagosa Springs and a host of local, state and national preservation and conservation organizations.

Denise Ryan is the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s program manager for public lands policy.

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.

Legislature Protects Nevada Heritage

Posted on: July 12th, 2011 by Guest Writer

 

Written by Greg Seymour

The Pony Express Trail in Nevada (Photo: Brian Turner)

The Pony Express Trail in Nevada (Photo: Brian Turner)

This session the Nevada legislature was able to pass SB 257, which increases penalties for graffiti at “protected sites” on public and private property. Passing overwhelmingly in both the Senate and Assembly and signed by Governor Sandoval on June 10, 2011, it is effective October 1. Senator Valerie Weiner, District 3, (Las Vegas area) was the author of this bill.

The legislation creates new protections for a wide variety of the historic resources unique to Nevada, including:

"A site, landmark, monument, building or structure of historical significance pertaining to the history of the settlement of Nevada; Any Indian campgrounds, shelters, petroglyphs, pictographs and burials; or Any archeological or paleontological site, ruin, deposit, fossilized footprints and other impressions, petroglyphs and  pictographs, habitation caves, rock shelters, natural caves, burial ground or sites of religious or cultural importance to an Indian Tribe. (SB 257)"

It makes destructive acts a felony if the site is protected.  Dollar thresholds for damage for this offense dropped from $5,000 to $500 in order to ensure that even small acts of vandalism are cover under this new law.  Penalties can include with a 10 day mandatory jail stay with probation, restitution, up to 300 hours of community service, and substantial jail time.

This new law helps protect our state’s cultural resources on public and private property with similar protections that federal laws afforded us for resources on lands under the US government’s oversight.  Similar legislation at the federal level, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, provides penalties for cultural resources over 100 years old on federal lands. Resources not meeting that age threshold are subject federal vandalism laws. Now private property rights are strengthened through enhanced legal and civil penalties.  The property owner would have the option of pressing charges.

For many of us, the allure of Nevada is imbued in its rural places. Our collective history is long and rich and can be seen in its many ranches and mining sites, some long abandoned. Prehistoric rock art can also be enjoyed as art, as history, or both.  One cannot help to wonder about how difficult it must have been to survive especially during those below zero winters in the Great Basin or the above 100⁰ summers in the Mojave Desert. Our predecessors ranched, farmed, worked and grew families and made decisions which still influence our vision of what Nevada has been and what we will be.  For a more urban view, mid-century modern architecture can act as an anchor for revitalization based on historic preservation combined with fun and funky shops, cafes, and bars. These special places can help us understand our collective heritage.

Heritage tourism brings in outside dollars providing employment across the state. Millions of dollars annually are spent at parks, museums, hotels, restaurants, stores and casinos by visitors to our historic and scenic sites.  Did you know that Nevada is home to the Great Basin National Heritage Area?  If you don’t believe me, just ask them about heritage dollars in Nevada. These are example of Nevada’s special places where heritage resources deserve our patronage and protection.

Turns out good things can happen despite our current hard economic times. Good Job Nevada!

Greg Seymour has more than 25 years of experience in CRM archaeology and historic preservation. He holds positions on various boards and professional organizations, including Preserve Nevada, Nevada Archaeological Association, Nevada Coordinator for Preservation Action, and as the Nevada Advisor for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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.

Ask President Obama to Take Historic Action for Fort Monroe

Posted on: July 12th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 3 Comments

 

Aerial view of Fort Monroe (Photo: Fort Monroe Authority)

Aerial view of Fort Monroe (Photo: Fort Monroe Authority)

Take action to help designate Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, as a National Monument within the National Park System.

Fort Monroe is one of the least known but most important historic places in America. The Director of the National Park Service called Fort Monroe “a resource of exceptional historic interest that bookends the beginning and end of slavery in the United States.” National Monument designation is critical to the future of Fort Monroe

President Obama can use his authority through the Antiquities Act to designate Fort Monroe as a National Monument, but he must hear from us.

Ask President Obama to take historic action by adding your name to the National Trust’s open letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior and, if you wish, add your own personal note.

Learn more about Fort Monroe:

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.

The State of America’s National Parks: A Response

Posted on: July 8th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Barb Pahl

Last week, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) released their report on The State of America’s National Parks, calling for major improvements in the management of natural, historic and cultural resources in advance of the 2016 centennial of the Park Service.

Workers repair a National Park log cabin's exterior. (Photo: Katherine Longfield, NPS)

NPCA’s report, based on 10 years of research on 80 park units, finds that the Park Service lacks the professional and financial capacity to care for the 27,000 historic structures, 4 million archaeological sites, 123 million museum objects and archival documents in park units it is responsible for protecting. Historic structures were found to be in fair to poor condition in the parks studied. None were in excellent condition. In fact, $3 billion of the $10.5 billion deferred maintenance budget for National Parks is needed for park historic structures. Additionally, overall funding and priority for the protection of cultural resources is not on par with funding for the protection of natural resources even though two thirds of the parks were created because of their historic and cultural significance.

This should come as no surprise to members of the National Trust where, since 1988, we have included 23 units of the Park Service on the 11 Most Endangered Places List including this year’s listing of the Greater Chaco Landscape. Since 1988, the National Trust has included 23 units of the National Park Service on our annual list of America’s Most Endangered Places -- 7 of these were Civil War Battlefields in addition to other icons of American history, places like Independence National Historic Park, Ellis Island, Valley Forge and Mesa Verde. Many of these places were listed because of a lack of funding and maintenance.

National Trust and National Park Service gathered together in White Grass. (Photo: National Trust)

NPCA also notes that the ability of park managers to care for cultural resources is hampered by a lack of professional staff trained in historic structure and buildings maintenance. To help address this problem, the National Trust has partnered with the National Park Service to create a preservation and training center at the White Grass Dude Ranch in Grand Teton National Park. To read more about it, see the White Grass website.

The lack of attention and funding for historic and cultural sites managed by the Park Service has become a chronic problem during both good and bad economic climates. Today, with tight budgets and the nation’s attention focused on finding ways to reduce the national debt, some may suggest that it isn’t government’s job to take care of these places - that in times of fiscal constraint, our nation cannot afford to protect is national patrimony. I would argue that we must make the protection of these places one of our highest priorities. If we don’t, we run the risk of not knowing who we are, where we came from, and how, using the lessons of history we can achieve our dreams for the future. There is no better place to learn the lessons of American history than in the places where history happened. And there is no better collection of places of American history than those that are managed by the National Park Service.

Barb Pahl is the Regional Director of the Trust's Mountains/Plains Office in Denver and the Director of the Public Lands Program.

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.

Emancipation National Monument: Historic Fort Monroe at Hampton Roads, Virginia

Posted on: June 10th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Rob Nieweg

Aerial view of Fort Monroe. (Photo: Fort Monroe Authority)

Aerial view of Fort Monroe. (Photo: Fort Monroe Authority)

On June 8th, in a letter to the White House, National Trust for Historic Preservation president Stephanie Meeks asked President Obama to exercise his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate historic Fort Monroe as a National Monument, which would make the 565-acre fortress an official part of the National Park system.

Fort Monroe is one of the nation’s most important landmarks of US military and African American heritage.  One hundred fifty years ago, three enslaved men, Shepard Mallory, Frank Baker, and James Townsend, escaped the Confederate Army and fled by boat to Virginia’s Fort Monroe. There, the Union Army commander seized these men as “contraband” of war, an unusual legal maneuver that provided refuge and relative freedom for the three men, and in turn, heralded the beginning of the end of slavery in America.  Over the course of the Civil War, more than 500,000 African American women, children, and men would follow in the footsteps of Mallory, Baker, and Townsend, leading to one of the Civil War’s most extraordinary—and overlooked—chapters.  It is imperative that we commemorate the hard struggles and unprecedented triumphs of these self-emancipators, and permanently preserve the nationally important historic site where these momentous events took place.

Importantly, June 8th also is the 105th anniversary of the enactment of the Antiquities Act, which presidents have used to enshrine and protect some of America’s most important and beloved historic places, from President Lincoln’s Cottage to the Statue of Liberty to Chaco Canyon.  A creative partnership of the National Park Service, Fort Monroe Authority, and Virginia Department of Historic Resources can ensure that future generations of Americans will learn from, and be inspired by, this vital piece of American history.  Creation of a new National Monument at Fort Monroe is supported by Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell, U.S. Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner, Congressmen Bobby Scott, Randy Forbes, Scott Rigell, and Rob Wittman as well as the non-profit preservation and conservation communities.

For further information on “Contraband” Heritage please see our earlier post, The Contraband of America and the Road to Freedom.

Rob Nieweg is the director & regional attorney for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Southern Field Office.

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.