Local Preservationists

 

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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 His career stalled after his passport was revoked and he could no longer travel abroad, and he spent the last decade of his life living with his sister and her husband in a modest house in West Philadelphia.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.

Heart Bombs 2015: Love Letters to Historic Places, Part 1

Posted on: February 27th, 2015 by Julia Rocchi 7 Comments

 

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Awbury Arboretum in Philadelphia signed, sealed, and delivered its heart bombs.

Posters. Ribbons. Markers. Stickers. Crayons. Balloons. Props. Digital art. No matter the medium, one message came through loud and clear this past month: America loves its historic places!

After we put out the call for heart bombs earlier this February (and shared what our historic sites did for Valentine's Day), submissions poured in from around the country, professing deep admiration and affection for every type of place imaginable, from lofty mansions to forgotten bungalows. No building was too humble, no state too crumbling, for devoted citizens to support. As photo after photo showed smiling faces and decorated spots, Heart Bombs 2015 confirmed what we at the National Trust have long known -- that love is the most powerful weapon for saving places.

Now we'd like to share some of these heartwarming heart bombs with all of you. Check out these love letters from coast to coast, and stay tuned for Part 2 next week!... 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.

Visiting Tinner Hill: Local History, National Significance

Posted on: February 25th, 2015 by Stephanie Meeks

 


Check out Stephanie's remarks at 12:38.

As president of the National Trust, I visit historic sites all over the country quite often -- that is my job! But recently, I had the chance to attend a special event right next to my home: the official opening of the Tinner Hill Historic Site in Falls Church, Virginia. There, a century ago, Falls Church residents stood up for civil rights and social justice. It was so welcome and inspiring to see my own community working to save the local places that matter, and that tell the full story of our area.... 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.

Stephanie Meeks

Stephanie K. Meeks

Stephanie K. Meeks is president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

#SaveTacoBell: America’s First Taco Bell Is Threatened

Posted on: February 11th, 2015 by Katherine Flynn

 

Taco Bell was founded by fast food entrepreneur Glen Bell in Downey, California in 1962.
Taco Bell was founded by fast food entrepreneur Glen Bell in Downey, California, in 1962.

It started with some hard-shell tacos and a dream.

Glen Bell, founder of the international fast food chain Taco Bell, opened his very first restaurant of that name in a modest 20-by-20 foot Mission-style building in Downey, California, in 1962. He thought that crunchy taco shells would make the traditional Mexican fare more fast food friendly, and that the American public would eat it up.

He was right. Fifty-three years later, there are roughly 6,000 Taco Bell restaurants in the U.S. The small cinderblock building in Downey where mass-market Mexican food arguably began, though, faces an uncertain future.... 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.

[Q&A] What Life is Like in Louis Kahn’s Esherick House

Posted on: February 9th, 2015 by Katherine Flynn 2 Comments

 

The southeast-facing back wall of the Esherick House floods the home with natural light.
The southeast-facing back wall of the Esherick House floods the home with natural light.

In early January, we rounded up the current status of each of the nine private homes designed by renowned Modern architect Louis Kahn, all located in the greater Philadelphia metro area. After seeing our post, the new owners of the Esherick House in Chestnut Hill reached out to us, hoping to share their story.... 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.

 

By Sophia Dembling

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When the Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club purchased the Excelsior Hotel in 1959, the ladies cleaned and furnished the neglected building themselves.

In the 1930s, a group of ladies started getting together to share recipes and gossip. They ended up saving a town.... 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.