National Treasures

 

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.

Downton Abbey in America: San Francisco's Haas-Lilienthal House

Posted on: February 20th, 2013 by Brian Turner 6 Comments

 

Alice and Samuel Lilienthal’s wedding. Courtesy San Francisco Architectural Heritage
Alice and Samuel Lilienthal’s wedding, 1909

It makes perfect sense that I would first hear about Downton Abbey from a 20-something visitor to the Haas-Lilienthal House last fall. (Forgive me for being out of the loop so long). PBS’s now top-rated show of all time has predictably created a national fascination with Victoriana.

Now, the National Trust’s work to secure a bright future for the National Treasure-listed House -- along with partner San Francisco Architectural Heritage -- has benefited from the hype, offering tangible proof that the era’s customs, extravagance, and strict social hierarchy extended all the way from the British Isles to the Pacific coast.

So for all of you who have caught the Downton bug, and with sincere apologies to those of you who have not, below is an introduction to the players in Haas-Lilienthal House’s real-life historic drama as compared to the characters in the show that has caught the country by storm.... 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.

Brian Turner

Brian Turner

Brian Turner is an attorney in the National Trust's San Francisco Field Office. He is an enthusiastic advocate for the protection of the nation's cultural and natural heritage.

Cross-Examining My Family's Texas Courthouse History

Posted on: February 19th, 2013 by Gwendolyn Purdom 3 Comments

 

The author’s great-great-great-grandfather was one of the first judges at the Comal County Courthouse. Robert Bodemann is pictured in front of the courthouse (fourth from the left) the year the structure was built. Credit: Gwendolyn Purdom
The author’s great-great-great-grandfather was one of the first judges at the Comal County Courthouse. Robert Bodemann is pictured in front of the courthouse (fourth from the left) the year the structure was built.

I never met my namesake. My maternal grandmother, Gwendolyn, died when my own mother was just a girl, along with my maternal grandfather a few years later. So my understanding of where I came from, on that side of the family at least, derives almost entirely from stories I’ve been told and the mountain of yellowed records, tattered documents, and black-and-white photos my mom keeps piled in an upstairs closet as unofficial “family historian.” Those things -- and the cornerstone of the 1898 Comal County Courthouse in New Braunfels, Texas.... 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.

From Questions to Action: How Sweet Auburn Is Reviving Its Historic Community

Posted on: February 18th, 2013 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

Written by Teresa Lynch, Senior Program Officer, National Main Street Center

Streetscape in Sweet Auburn. Credit: Stan Kaady
Sweet Auburn

I consider myself privileged to be part of the National Trust’s National Treasure team working to preserve and revitalize one of the most significant historically African-American commercial areas in the South -- Sweet Auburn in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Sweet Auburn neighborhood is particularly distinct in that it was the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is where he was raised, worked, and worshiped, and it is where he is buried, within the 10-block Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site centered on Auburn Avenue. (It was also listed as one of our America's 11 Most Endangered Places in both 1992 and 2012.)... 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.

Environmental Threats Emerge at the "Walden Pond of the West"

Posted on: February 18th, 2013 by Guest Writer

 

The full version of this story originally appeared in E&E on Feb. 14, 2013. [As N.D. drilling boom spreads, so do worries about Roosevelt's 'cradle of conservation' -- by Scott Streater, E&E reporter.] Copyright 2013, Environment and Energy Publishing LLC. Excerpted with permission.

Photo by David Nix/digitalimageryphotos.smugmug.com

The rolling hills, crested buttes and cottonwood trees surrounding the Elkhorn Ranch in the western North Dakota badlands look very much the same as when a young Theodore Roosevelt first settled there in 1884.

Roosevelt moved to the ranch to heal after his first wife and mother both died on Valentine's Day 1884 -- exactly 129 years ago today. Though he lived at the ranch only a short time, and the log house and scores of cattle that once grazed there are long gone, this ranch is where Roosevelt first developed the conservation ethic that defined his term as the nation's 26th president and earned him the title the "Conservationist President."

Indeed, the Elkhorn Ranch, which is now part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, is often referred to as the "cradle of conservation" and the "Walden Pond of the West."

Photo by David Nix/digitalimageryphotos.smugmug.com

But today the solitude and natural splendor of the 218-acre ranch and the entire national park are under increasing threat, park officials say, by rapidly expanding shale oil development in North Dakota's booming Bakken Shale play. Proposals to build a gravel pit and bridge within view of the park, both of which are related to the oil boom, also pose major risks.... 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.